How to Enable More Efficient Enterprise Visitor Management

By converging numerous emerging data platforms throughout a given company, intelligent permission granting and revocation can be automated.

Visitor management is largely misunderstood in today’s security community as to what it really can and should do. Numerous companies still rely on an email to the security department with a paper sign-in sheet.

Few have maximized today’s technology to enforce compliant access to datacenters, labs, warehouses and other secure areas.

By converging numerous emerging data platforms throughout a given company, intelligent permission granting and revocation can be automated, freeing up precious resources to focus on other equations rather than manually replicating outdated processes with hopes that something doesn’t slip through the cracks.

There are several considerations today’s enterprise-class customers should use to create a baseline expectation for visitor management platforms.

While many access control systems are in place to address most permission needs throughout the network and physical locations of a company, the proverbial devil may be in the details of ad-hoc visits over the weekend to a private data location.

Real-time provisioning of access privileges to contractors, visitors, vendors and to cross-location employees needs to reflect the urgency of a company’s respective regulatory environment, be it Sarbanes Oxley, HIPAA, NERC CIP, CFATS or another framework.

This level of access control requires a high degree of fluidity and goes well beyond keeping just malicious actors out. With the zenith of data security, audits must document and demonstrate how highly granular access to logical data and physical data areas was conducted within the governance and compliance policy.

Typical enterprise systems have individual lobby engines or separate databases that move in the right direction but can fail to establish the scalability and accuracy that is required.

This patchwork approach leaves the burden of accuracy and efficiency on a limited number of employees by way of Excel spreadsheets and Outlook notifications.

It is possible to fail audits with significant financial consequences by even the slightest percentage of error introduced by disparate manual processes. A new standard exists in enterprise visitor management through converging operational platforms throughout the business.

An immediate benefit is efficiency. The reporting and operational accuracy gains show immediate ROI against labor hours and audit readiness.

The drawbacks of previous-generation visitor management platforms include:

  • Multiple ad-hoc databases introduce logic gaps and redundant software licensing
  • Simple interfaces with other databases limit business rule enforcement
  • Programs requiring additional software windows open at station limit lobby ambassador awareness
  • Poorly written products suffered scalability and update challenges

A blended software platform is highly recommended to accomplish a single dashboard approach to strong visitor management programs.

Many manufacturers promote key features but may lack specific toolsets for empowering facility or security personnel to leverage full automation while strengthening audit readiness.

Multitier approval engine — Software should have a way to methodically spell out authorization levels and escalation plans for different access requests. A contractor in a warehouse or datacenter or a visiting vendor in a VIP area of the corporate campus should all find a flexible way to define procedures and approvals in a rapid process.

Multiengine workflow — The ability to aggregate data from numerous systems — HR, PeopleSoft, SAP, security, Active Directory and many others — results in a finely sharpened set of approval/denial functionality. Having these elements present within the same dashboard allows for a seamless process that can quickly manage numerous requests to given areas. This also significantly reduces errors in not only granting, but revoking, access after the need has expired.

Organized administrative UI — Software configuration should be in a well laid-out user interface to maximize internal acceptance and use of the toolset. Visual alerts, watch lists, pending visits and summary reports are all critical.

Rule and policy library — For companies with stringent regulatory environments (biopharmaceutical, government, financial, etc.), it is imperative that a visually simplified toolset exists by which the company may create, modify and maintain policies that govern how visitors access secure areas. Relying on system rules that automate denial of permission based on corporate rules or flags for expiring certifications/credentials avoids errors that stem from new employees, extenuating circumstances and last-minute access requests.

Today’s best-in-class visitor management products are designed to interface with corporate data and policy head-ends while allowing a fluid operational interface to security professionals.

A consultative examination can often prove very useful in determining if these solutions fit a given corporate environment.

About the Author

Contact:

Lance Holloway is Director Vertical Technology for Stanley Security.

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