With the economy forcing everyone to curb spending, “doing more with less” unfortunately has become the rallying cry for American businesses. Perhaps no one is more aware of this than today’s security executive, remote facility manager or small business, especially when it comes to necessary technology investments like security systems. While cash may be hard to come by to equip a a remote facility or chain store with a standard four-door access control system, the consequences of leaving property unprotected are much more troublesome.
New advances in remote access control management, however, may hold the keys to helping a business reduce operating costs while providing more bang for security dollars. And the outsourcing model can be scaled up and down to suit ever-changing needs.
Local Versus ManagedMany end users may not be aware of the total costs associated with locally managed access control, observes Smith. The most visible cost is the money spent on physical equipment such as cards, door readers, PCs, software and installation. More costs, though, come into play after the equipment is installed. These include the time staff spends handling operating system issues, virus scanning, software updates, employee training and other general system maintenance tasks. None of these are typically figured into the upfront expenses.
Additionally, there are productivity challenges. Many operations or remote facilities of larger enterprises, for instance, don’t have a dedicated security staffer whose sole job is to manage the access control system. In most cases, it’s an office manager, general manager, HR or even a receptionist who maintains the system in addition to his/her standard duties. Time spent adding and deleting cards, running reports and troubleshooting equals lost productivity.
Integrating TechnologiesAnd then there’s the challenge of combining remote managed and physical access control that will fit into an existing security infrastructure.
For example, Metropolitan Community College (MCC) of Omaha, Neb. is a full-service public community college. Its 2007-2008 enrollments were more than 50,000 students and it hosts a faculty, staff and continuing education members of more than 1,800 professionals. MCC offers more than 125 one-year and two-year educational programs at its seven locations.
Evaluating a Potential Remote-Managed SetupRemote access control is more accepted as some companies look for ways to manage their security networks from mobile and open access locations. Consider these key factors when evaluating a potential remote-managed setup:
1. Research software to ensure the technology selected is non proprietary. This will allow room to easily and cost-effectively change sources in the future if needed, or move back to a locally managed system if desired.
2. Ask about measures for backing up data in the event of a system crash.
3. Inquire about certification, including manufacturer training, and the ability to manager your system effectively.
It’s also important to note that the functionality offered by remote-managed access control is not as critical as functionality offered by a central station. It’s still not the dealer’s role to coordinate with first responders during emergencies or handle similarly critical functions. At most, service personnel who manage the remote services are typically asked to add or delete credentials, run reports and perhaps open a door remotely. These are not services considered high priorities, but they do have great value for end users who don’t have the resources to do it all themselves.
By not having to incur the additional costs associated with managing an in-house system, personnel – ranging from enterprise security executives and facility managers to human resource directors – may be able to afford more security up front versus a more traditional method.