A guide to the benefits of visitor management systems (VMS)

Updated 13 March 2023

Managing incoming visitors can be a challenge for an organisation of any size, but companies can simplify this task with the use of a visitor management system (VMS). An efficient VMS helps provide a smooth experience for guests, supports the productivity and efficiency of the reception team, and helps to keep the workplace safe. Understanding the different kinds of visitor management systems (VMS) available is essential to selecting the best system to suit the unique needs of a company. In this article, we explain what a VMS is, the different types that are available, and the benefits of implementing a VMS.

What is a VMS?

Visitor management refers to all the processes involved in welcoming and keeping track of visitors to a company's premises. These processes can include logging the time of the visits, taking down visitor information including their name and the reason for the visit, alerting employees that a visitor wants to see them and ensuring the safety and security of visitors and visitor evacuation in an emergency. While it is possible to track the flow of visitors with a pen-and-paper sign-in system, an automated, digital VMS can help an organisation streamline this process.

Implementing a VMS requires a dedicated tablet or computer to run the visitor management software. When visitors arrive at the company premises, they can sign into this computer system or tablet. The relevant staff member then receives an automatic alert of the visitor's registration and can then greet their guest and manage their visit.

Related: Receptionist Skills: Definition and Examples

Benefits of visitor management systems

The benefits of using a visitor management system include:

1. Eliminate manual processes and boost efficiency

A VMS eliminates several steps in the reception workflow, leading to greater efficiency. With a digital system, receptionists no longer copy information manually from the visitor list or logbook to a computer. Using a VMS is also a green guest management solution, reducing the company's use of pen and paper and reducing the amount of storage required for both. A digital system also makes it very easy to delete unnecessary information about visitors, which can also improve the productivity of the organisation.

Related: Productivity vs efficiency: The guide

2. Reduce waiting time

Organisations that receive a lot of visitors may have long queues at their reception areas due to the amount of time required for guests to input their information in a paper logbook. Switching to a digital VMS decreases the time required to gather visitors' details. Using a digital VMS also creates an opportunity to set up multiple check-in locations as all the devices can synchronise and save the information to a shared system. Having multiple check-in points can boost the efficiency of the reception team and solve crowding or traffic issues in the reception area.

3. Increase security

A digital VMS provides greater security both for visitors and for the company. A good digital system helps keep visitor information private and secure. Systems can be set up so that only authorised personnel can access the information collected from visitors. It also helps to improve the safety of the organisation as personnel can easily verify the identities of visitors and prevent blacklisted visitors from entering the premises.

Related: How to become an information security manager in 5 steps

4. Professional first impression

A digital VMS can be a useful tool that helps create a great first impression. With the use of a digital VMS, companies can give their visitors an experience that sets the company apart from other companies. This modern solution delivers a more professional and refined impression than a traditional logbook.

Through a VMS, a company can design and send visitors branded invitations. These can give visitors instructions regarding what to do when they arrive at the premises, preventing confusion and stress on their part. Linking visitors to a branded pre-registration can also make checking in even faster, as visitors can register their details before their arrival and simply verify their identities at the check-in location.

Related: Importance of first impressions (and how to improve yours)

5. Better data collection

A digital VMS helps the reception team to collect information more accurately. On-screen prompts and queries can help ensure that visitors enter all the necessary information into the required fields. This can also improve the accuracy of the information recorded.

Automating the sign-in and record-keeping processes also reduces opportunities for human error. Since visitors no longer enter their information by hand, there is less risk of illegible handwriting obscuring crucial information, and less chance of the reception team misreading or misunderstanding entries.

Related: What is data modelling? (Definition, types and skills)

6. Automatic customer relations

A VMS makes contacting visitors easier because it can more effectively collect and collate visitors' contact information. With this, company members can efficiently follow up with visitors after meetings. This can help improve communication and strengthen the company's networking capabilities.

Related: What is customer relations? (With benefits and strategies)

Methods of visitor management

The following are the different types of visitor management organisations can use:

1. Pen and paper

This is the most basic method of tracking visitors, a pre-digital type of VMS. It involves the use of a logbook to record visitor information, such as their names and the purpose of the visit. This is an affordable and seemingly simple solution but can come with many inherent challenges. One of the challenges of using this system is that visitor information can potentially remain exposed throughout the day. As each visitor puts in their details on the same page in the logbook, the next visitor who comes in might have access to the details of the previous visitors.

Using a logbook requires the reception team to review entries manually to retrieve contact information or to confirm visitation times. Some organisations choose to copy the information from the logbook to a computer at the end of the day, which can be a time-consuming process. It can also be challenging to retrieve accurate information for company records from entries written by visitors with poor handwriting.

2. VMS: On-premises software

For this VMS solution, the company installs on-premises software on a device in the office to manage visitors' data. Companies collect the information from visitors and store it locally in a physical storage device. While this provides the desired automation to streamline visitor management, it also requires a separate server to be set up onsite to manage the collected data. This can be a costly investment.

There are other risks to relying solely on physical storage. Organisations can accidentally lose some information collected over many years due to an accident or emergency onsite. either in the case of a necessary evacuation or an emergency.

3. VMS: Cloud-based data storage

This is the best solution for visitor management due to its simplicity and seamlessness. It makes managing visitor information easy as you can have your input device at the front desk while your staff manages the information in real-time. A cloud solution does not require the same infrastructure investment as on-premises software means you don't have to worry about building certain infrastructure to take advantage of a VMS and doesn't require ongoing server maintenance or upgrades. With this, companies can easily track and store visitors' information.

Related: Administrative skills: definition and examples

Choosing a suitable VMS for your organisation

It can be challenging to identify which VMS best suits a company's needs, especially if the company is new to adapting automated processes. The following tips can be useful to consider:

  • Look out for features that simplify the overall visitor management experience. This is usually the most important reason for getting a VMS.

  • Seek out solutions that help to provide better security and privacy for both visitors and the organisation.

  • Find what the societal rule says about the VMS of your choice. Ensure that it has features that support the company's compliance with government regulations.

  • Choose a solution that allows for scalability to accommodate the growth and productivity of the organisation.

Related: Strategies for effective administrative management

Some details to remember when considering a VMS

  • Any type of company can make use of a VMS. No matter the size of the organisation, any company that receives visitors can benefit from the increased efficiency a VMS can provide.

  • A VMS doesn't eliminate the role of the reception team. It's only meant to help them perform their job efficiently and effectively.

  • Many visitors prefer the experience of not queueing up at the reception before receiving attention. A company should also ensure that its system communicates well with visitors.

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