Access Control System (ACS) can vary from electronic keypads that secure a single door to large networked systems for multiple buildings. They can involve a simple mechanism of punching in a password or be part of an advanced integrated system that pretty much controls every function in your building – it entirely depends on your business needs.
Before you evaluate or buy an Access Control System (ACS), it is critical to have a good understanding of what you need such system to do. You need to consider two key aspects here – (1) What purpose will your door access control system serve? (2) What size of an access control system will your business need?
Purpose of an Access Control System
The most basic role of access control system is to ensure authorized access to sensitive areas such as parking garage, server room, personnel records room or any other sensitive area. You may also want to use it for monitoring an tracking – i.e to keep a record of who enters an area and when. Then again how secure do you want the system to be. A basic system usually features a keypad or a swipe card. Advanced systems may include multiple means of authentication (a card, thumbprint etc.).
Size of an Access Control System
As you decipher the general role of the access control system within your business setup, think about the number of doors you need to secure. Remember not every door has to have access control; you can simply leave some locked and manned by appropriate personnel. A little planning can make it fairly easy to expand later.
Once you are clear on the purpose and size of your access control system, you are all set to evaluate different vendors in the market. Here are ten things to consider for making the right choice.
- Ease of use – Is the system user friendly that ensures configuration and the execution of processes and procedures can be done easily with minimal training and support?
- Ability to access the system remotely – Does the system include functionality which enables the application to be accessed remotely anywhere anytime from any device with minimal support from your IT department?
- User management & accessibility – Does the system offer tiered administration and can the system be accessed and managed by multiple users simultaneously?
- Reporting Capabilities – Does the system have the ability to efficiently generate both standard and custom reports that are easily interpreted? Can you quickly and easily run a report?
- Multi-site connectivity – Can a user map multiple sites simultaneously and run a single report for all buildings and areas? If a site is added in the future, will there be compatibility issues with the software?
- Information backup and restore – Does the system include automatic data backup or are is it required to purchase additional hardware and delegate staff to perform weekly backups? What will be the cost to your organization if the system and its data need to be restored? Is data being backed up on or off site?
- Schedules and Notifications – Can schedules and notifications be set up easily and efficiently without having to apply additional network settings and multiple parameters?
- On-going system maintenance – What type of maintenance can you expect? Will this maintenance allow you to easily and efficiently update your software when new versions become available or in the event that your system needs to be restored or serviced?
- Support, training and help – What kind of support can you expect from you’re your system or system provider once the warranty has expired or in the event that staff require new or additional training?
- Product updates and compatibility between old and new access control systems – How often can you expect software updates and are these included in your maintenance agreement at no additional cost? Can these updates be applied quickly and efficiently.