Are you looking for the best visitor management system for schools? These days, there are no shortages of school security vendors and navigating the marketing can be time consuming and frustrating. So it is important to understand what you are looking for in a visitor management system because not all of them are the same.
The first question you must answer is if the visitor management system is a simple tool to replace the notepad and pen at the front desk or the foundation of your school security plan?
If it is the former, there are numerous simple visitor software programs that will log your visitors, print a temporary badge and convert your process to an electronic process. That is not what we are discussing here. We are focused on schools who are looking for a comprehensive school visitor management system to serve as the foundation or hub of your school security plan.
You will notice that being the first visitor management system in the market is not on the list. I spent 10 years in law enforcement and the model was to promote people who had the most seniority. That was a dysfunctional leadership model.
I was part of a team that created the largest law enforcement-based domestic violence unit in the U.S. in 1994. And the average seniority of the 33 detectives was 5 years. We recruited young, hungry, investigators that were not caught up in we-have-always-done-it-this-way but thought outside the box and were solutions driven.
Results: we dropped the domestic murder rate in Nashville by more than 50%!
What do you need in a complex visitor management system?
Security-Focused Leadership. Almost daily, we are vetting security companies and products for our 7,000+ clients. The first page I ALWAYS go to is the About Us. Who is the leadership team? If I do not find anyone who has security or law enforcement experience I never look at another page. You need technologists but understanding how to develop software is not security.
Cloud-Based. The cloud is important because it integrates your locations or campuses, allows data to be shared like approved visitors, volunteers and vendors or excluded parties. It also makes the management of the system simple for your IT department.
Configurable. Is the visitor management system a one-size-fits-all or customizable? The VMS should allow you to make the system work according to your policies and business rules.
Background Checks. If this is the foundation of your security program, then you need access to more than a low level sex offender search. Understand that background screening is complex and there are federal, state and local laws that regulated how background screening is conducted. Yes, even for volunteers. A complex VMS will have integrations to:
National, state and local criminal record systems.
Motor vehicle records
Student Information Systems. Sync data like students arriving late or leaving early with your SIS. Make sure approved or excluded party information is synced. Removes labor from your front office team.
Access Control Systems. Manage current employees and share data with your access control system utilizing your Excluded Parties List and leveraging your security cameras, etc.
Crisis Alert Systems. Ensure that your emergencies are managed by your crisis alert system by a simple integration that allows your VMS to pass this communication over and manage escalated events.
Reunification. In a crisis event, make sure you can match students with approved guardians or parents and account for all visitors on premise.
Customer Service. I have yet to speak to a company who does not claim to have great customer service. However, these days, customer service is a dying service. Technology can certainly help answer questions. However, great customer service starts with a senior member of the leadership team who leads a customer service team and offers multiple avenues of communicating:
Direct dial numbers
Support ticket systems
Monthly online meetings/ webinars that provide tips and tricks to expand the use of the VMS.