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5 Steps to Decide on a New Access Control System

If you are a company growing quickly, moving into a new office, or just looking to upgrade your existing system, getting a new access control system in your office is a lot easier said than done. What seems like a simple "order and get it done" task in the beginning can explode into a full-time project. What if your new hires can’t get in? What if the new locks don't work properly? To avoid headache, use these five steps to decide on a new access control system.

1) Evaluate your environment and doors

  • Are your doors made of wood, metal or glass? This determines the type of locks you are able to install.
  • How many doors would you want to you want to manage access for? Do you really need the back door on the access system too, or is that door unused frequently?
  • Is it possible for all these doors be connected to one IT closet? Pay attention to distance and where the wire can run.
  • Are there different floors in your office? If so, you might want to connect both floors with wires to save on installation costs. Otherwise you may have to install two separate access control systems.
  • Is there a local vendor who installs doors? Usually doors don’t come equipped with electronic access infrastructure. Don’t experiment here trying to source everything from a single vendor.

2) Define your access policies

  • Should the door always be locked or always open during office hours?
  • How many people need access to the space? How often does this change and how often are people added?
  • Are there different access roles for managers, employees, freelancers and interns?

3) Define the full scope of the project

  • What is your ideal time-frame to get the access control system installed? Consider hard deadlines like a signed lease or a booked moving date.
  • How much do you want to spend on your access control system? If If you have no existing access control infrastructure, an electric strike installation with keypad would on average be around $800 - $1,800. Alternatively, a magnetic lock installation with a pinpad is around $1,500 to $3,000. You can spend less that that by ordering these parts it on eBay, but that can create problems down the line when something breaks. Always use branded, top quality hardware. In the end, this is your office security. Cutting corners could be detrimental in the long run.
  • Are aesthetics important for you? If so, you may want to tell your installer to choose a bronze plated security lock to match your door frame.
  • **Important** Who will be the project manager for the duration of the project? You may be the first contact, but what about when someone has to be at the office for the installer to stop by at 6.30am - are you going to be there? Be sure to delegate the role if you’re not able to fulfill these needs.
  • Who will be setting up and managing the access control system? This is likely the same person managing your servers and computers - most likely an IT manager. Note that the office manager can have this technical role in smaller companies. However usually the person managing the system day-to-day is different than the person setting up the IT infrastructure.

4) Selecting a vendor

  • You might want to Google search “security integrator”, “security systems”, “access control installation” + the city you are located in.
  • Before contacting the vendor, make sure to read reviews on Yelp.
  • Ask your friends working at other offices / SMB’s in your area what vendors they use. Personal recommendations are usually the best ones.
  • Research one or the other manufacturers to see which integrators they prefer or work with in your area. These might not be easy to find via Google as they have a targeted audience.

5) Get a quote from your vendor

  • The last step is generally the first step people want to do: Getting an idea what it costs.
  • Good installers do free site visits or credit the cost of the site visit towards your bill should you decide to move forward with them.
  • Typically this should happen at least 2-3 weeks before your ideal installation date as most installers would need to do the site visit, give you a quote, and order the needed hardware once you approve the quote.

Following this list can help you avoid a lot of headaches and frustrations when choosing your next access control system. What roadblocks have you encountered when planning a new access control system? Let us know in the comments below!

Bernhard Mehl is CEO and co-founder of KISI, reach him at:

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