10 Questions to Ask When Choosing an Electronic Access Control System

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This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

At Apex Industries, we’re focused on providing comprehensive opening solutions for your projects. Included in this offering is Electronic Access Control (EAC), which you may or may not be familiar with the concept.

Even if you don’t know the name, you’re probably familiar with building swipe cards – that’s a part of an EAC system.

To help you out with things to consider when choosing the right solution for you, our EAC manager, John Snair, put together this helpful list of questions:

 

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 10. Does the manufacturer/integrator have a professional services group or custom solutions group to help with database to database

integrations and large-scale deployments? The manufacturer/system integrator having such a custom group goes a long way in demonstrating the willingness and ability for the client’s requirements to be met and that the manufacturer continues to make an investment in improving their system which results in a better overall solution for everyone.

 

9. Do you want Web-based connectivity to your Access Control system?

Choosing a system that allows you to connect to your EAC system in order to manage system devices, users, and view reports from any device that has access to the Internet, will give you the flexibility to be “connected” to your facility’s security at all times from anywhere.

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8. What operating systems and versions are supported?

As the software is a key component of most Access Control systems, it becomes very important that the system you choose will run on the operating system that your firm uses for its PCs. You must also consider the database engine that will be required.

 

7. What would be involved and what are the possibilities if you had to change systems in the future?

Circumstances can change and although it is really not desirable, it may be required to change the Access Control system that you use. Depending on which system you’re using, it may be quite difficult or not even possible to convert your existing system to a different one. This is where it becomes very important to consider only EAC systems that are built on an “Open Architecture”. This will allow you to move from one system to another with potentially many less problems. Systems that incorporate devices such as proprietary card readers/card formats, or integrate with a limited number of electronic hardware manufacturers will leave you with limited options.

 

6. What is a breakdown of the costs over a five-year period?

Don’t automatically go for the solution that has the smallest upfront costs. It is important to consider all costs over time to decide which system will give you the best value for your EAC investment. Costs related to acquisition, operation, upgrade, maintenance, training, travel and other aspects of owning an EAC system need to be considered.

 

5. With what other systems and manufacturers does the system integrate or work with?

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Is your system fully capable of integration with others?

The partners that an Access Control system manufacturer has can indicate how well regarded it is in the door hardware and security industry. Partnerships can also provide an indication of how likely others believe that the system manufacturer will be around in the future. The partnerships are also key to the range of solutions that can be provided as integration with other security systems and electronic door hardware.

 

4. What other end users, similar in size and scope, have deployed this solution?

Any reputable EAC system manufacturer should be able to provide you with real examples of where their systems are being used to manage the security and/or traffic flow into areas of facilities. There are probably already firms of similar size, scope, and business type that are already using the system you’re considering. This will provide a certain level of comfort in knowing that the system will be able to handle your requirements.

 

3. How long has the access control system manufacturer been developing these systems?

Track record and system maturity is a very important indicator of how much the system has been reviewed, tested, and how much end user feedback has gone into its development life cycle. Typically, the longer the system has been around, the more development has gone into it and the more consideration has been given to how develop a complete, robust, and scalable offering.

 

2. Will upgrades for the system be available in the future?

Often end users think they only want or require basic functionality in an access system, or they know exactly what they want, without thinking ahead in terms of their system needing to evolve to able to keep up with developing product capabilities. It is very likely that their wants or requirements in three to five years will be very different than what they are now. Integrators such as Apex Industries have positioned themselves with products and solutions that are likely to continue to be developed and to provide the options their clients may want in the future.

 

1. How many areas do you want to secure?

Choosing an access control system will depend heavily on how many areas (doors/cabinets/lockers) that you want to secure. The range of systems available covers all requirements from securing one area to potentially thousands of areas. There are simple, standalone one-door solutions available continuing to the other end of the spectrum which could be thousands of doors on full scale enterprise systems capable of utilizing your existing network infrastructure, and all scenarios in between.

Are you considering upgrading or installing electronic access control? Did this article stir up some questions for you? Fill out the form below or contact John directly for more information:

John Snair
Office: 1-506-857-1678
Mobile: 1-506-380-4376
john.snair@apexindustries.com
@apex_eac

 

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