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Introduction to Visitor Management Systems



Electronic visitor management systems are used to sign-in and track visitors who come to visit your facility. Electronic visitor management systems are an electronic version of the visitor sign-in sheet or visitor log book that is commonly used at many facilities. Electronic visitor management systems make the visitor sign-in process more efficient and provide an improved ability to track visitors.


How Electronic Visitor Management Systems Work


When using an electronic visitor management system, visitors are signed-in using a computer rather than on a paper sign-in sheet. Upon arrival, the visitor provides his or her name to the receptionist. The receptionist then enters the visitor's name into the computer, and prints a temporary visitor badge which is then given to the visitor. When the visitor leaves, he or she returns the visitor badge to the receptionist, who then signs the visitor out on the computer.


Basic Components of an Electronic Visitor Management System


An electronic visitor management system consists of the following basic components:

  • Visitor management system software: This software is what runs the electronic visitor management system. At most facilities, this software would be installed on an existing personal computer that is already located at the receptionist's desk.

  • Visitor badge printer: This is a small printer that is used to print the visitor badge and is directly attached to the computer that is running the visitor management system software.


  • Card scanner (optional): This device allows the visitor's business card or driver's license to be scanned directly into the visitor management system software. This speeds up the visitor registration process and increases the accuracy of the information entered. When scanning a driver's license, the system may also capture the picture shown on the license. If desired, this picture can be printed on the visitor badge.


  • Camera (optional): A camera can be attached to the computer which allows the visitor's picture to be captured by the visitor management system software. If desired, this picture can be printed on the visitor badge.


  • Signature pad (optional): An electronic signature pad can be connected to the computer, allowing the visitor's signature to be captured. This is often useful when a visitor is required to sign a non-disclosure agreement or to acknowledge a safety policy prior to being allowed entry to the facility. If desired, the visitor's signature can be printed on the visitor badge.


  • Barcode scanner (optional): A barcode scanner can be connected to the computer, allowing barcodes to be entered into the visitor management system. By scanning a printed barcode on the visitor badge, visitors can be quickly signed out when they leave the facility. This scanner can also be used to sign-in visitors who have been pre-registered and who have received a printed visitor confirmation email that contains a barcode.


Benefits of an Electronic Visitor Management System


An electronic visitor management system offers the following benefits over the traditional manual visitor sign-in process:

  • Visitor information can be recorded more accurately and more consistently.

  • A personalized visitor badge can be quickly printed that contains the visitor's photo.


  • Visitor information is stored in a computer database, allowing reports of visitor activity to be quickly created. These reports can be used to tell how many times each visitor has signed-in and signed-out and when, and tell which visitors were in the facility during any given time period. This information can be useful when investigating security or safety incidents, and for auditing billings by vendors or contractors.


  • Reports can be created that show all visitors who are presently in the facility. This can be useful during emergencies and evacuations.


  • Visitor information can be retained in the system, allowing returning visitors to be quickly signed-in in the future.


  • Visitors can be pre-registered in the system, speeding up the sign-in process when the visitor arrives.


  • If visitor photos are captured, photos can be useful in investigating security incidents that may have occurred when a visitor was on the premises.


Electronic Visitor Management System Enhancements


In addition to the basic capabilities described above, many electronic visitor management systems offer the following optional system enhancements:

  • Employee visitor pre-registration: This feature allows employees to pre-register their own visitors using a computer-based form. This is typically done over the company intranet, and allows employees to enter visitor name and expected date and time of arrival in the visitor management system. This allows receptionist to know that the visitor is expected and speeds up the sign-in process when the visitor arrives.


  • Batch visitor registration: This feature allows large groups of visitors to be pre-registered into the system. This feature is useful when a large meeting or conference is being hosted at the facility.


  • E-mail integration: This feature can be used to notify employees via email when a visitor has arrived, and to send confirmation notices to visitors who have been pre-registered. These confirmation notices typically contain a barcode which can be brought to the facility and scanned upon the visitor's arrival.


  • Outlook calendar integration: This feature automatically places an appointment on an employee's Outlook calendar when a visitor has been pre-registered to meet with them.


  • Watch list integration: This feature allows visitor names to be automatically checked against a pre-programmed "watch list" before the visitor is allowed entry to the premises. The watch list can contain the names of known terrorists, persons banned from the premises (such as previously terminated employees), and persons who are subject to a restraining order that prevents them from contacting a company employee.


  • Background check feature: This feature automatically submits the visitor's name to a background check agency which performs a real-time security background check on the visitor. This feature provides an alert when a person who is a known felon or sexual predator attempts to sign-in as a visitor.


  • Self-service kiosk: This feature allows visitors to register themselves when they arrive at the facility. Typically, the visitor would enter all basic information into the kiosk themselves, and then simply need to be verified by the receptionist or security officer before being allowed entry to the facility.


  • Access control system integration: This feature allows access cards to be automatically programmed for visitors. This feature is used when visitors need to be given access cards to allows them to go through card reader controlled doors at the facility.


  • Mobile visitor registration: this feature allows visitors to be registered using a portable hand-carried device and badge printer. This feature is typically used for registering visitors at construction sites, loading docks, and at other places where the use of a normal visitor registration system would be impractical.


For general information on visitor control, see the related article: Reviewing Your Visitor Control Procedures.

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