You’ve reached the stage where it’s time to consider a new security system. The system you have works well enough; it might be outdated, slow or at its maximum capacity for growth, but it still does the job. Replacement parts and service is getting increasingly harder to obtain and site support software agreements are increasing in price, but it’s not quite bad enough to pull the plug and start over. Or is it?

How do you know when it’s time to make a change? What choices do you have? Let’s examine the pros and cons of the different choices.

Keeping your Existing System – The Pros and Cons

There are many pros to keeping your existing system. First, you skip the tedious and intense process of re-evaluating and assessing your company’s security needs. This time-intensive process can take months and often involves counterparts from other departments. Once the assessment is finished, you must research numerous access control systems on the market to determine which one is best. This includes hearing presentations from several companies, learning about their systems and figuring out what the best fit is for your needs… and budget. As an added advantage, if you keep your current system you eliminate the need to write that dreaded purchase order and come up with the budget for a large upfront cost.

Third, your current system is familiar, and the security team doesn’t have to learn a new system. You don’t need to invest in training.

Lastly, you skip the system downtime that normally accompanies a large installation.

However, using an older system often presents frustration on a daily basis. The security system is antiquated and hasn’t met your organization’s security requirements for a long time. Older systems tend to incur higher costs with expensive out-of-date replacement parts just to keep the system running. Oftentimes parts may no longer be available or they are discontinued by the manufacturer, leaving you to scramble or make-do with what you have, possibly compromising the security of your building(s), employees and assets.

Older systems reach their expansion limits and can no longer grow with you. If you need to add readers, cameras or cardholders, you can’t because your system simply can’t handle it. Areas are left unsecured, and in this day and age, taking that gamble can be dangerous.

Older systems also can’t support the latest technology, or integrate with third-party manufacturer’s systems because their system is out of date.

Starting Over with New System – The Pros and Cons

A brand new state-of-the-art security system will offer the latest technology solutions available, and it should provide you with all the features you need to secure your facility. The current software and hardware should meet every security requirement on your list and grow with your company for years to come. The system should also have the capability to integrate with the latest security technologies and building management functions to provide streamlined processes, help with green building initiatives and provide optimum security.

Before purchasing that new security system, it’s essential to thoroughly assess your company’s security requirements and evaluate what technology is specific to your needs. Often a committee is established to determine the different areas needing assessment such as IT, security, HR, etc. The evaluation process is lengthy and often takes months to perform and complete. Once the committee knows what it needs, it must evaluate the different security systems on the market to determine the best solution. This can also be very time-consuming.

Starting over with a new system is expensive and requires a large up-front budget. Allocating the budget and getting costs approved takes time and a company-wide commitment. Once the budget is approved and the system finally chosen, it can take months to install, causing a disruption in service and inconvenience to employees.

Installing a Retrofit – Migrate Part of your System – The Pros and Cons

Upgrading your current security system to a retrofit solution could be the best option to keep costs low and minimize disruptions in service and training. A system retrofit is quick, easy and much more affordable than starting over with a new system. When you upgrade, you might be able to use your existing network infrastructure, including wiring, which saves money on labor costs. You could reuse your existing card readers, cards and enclosures, saving even more money. With a retrofit solution, you can also maintain your existing database population and eliminate hours of re-entering data.

While a retrofit solution will require transition time during the hardware and software migration, some change-overs have very little to no down time at all. Once the system is fully functional, security staff will need training to learn the new system. These cons of a retrofit solution can be planned for in advance and in stages over time as needed.

With a retrofit, you get all the benefits of a new system: state-of-the-art hardware and software, up-to-date technology features that make securing your system easy, and a system with the ability to grow with your organization for the next 15 years or longer.

The pros and cons vary greatly when deciding whether or not to rip out an old system and replace with a new one, or install a retrofit solution. Examine your needs and budget, do your research and determine what’s best for your company.