Friday, February 3, 2012

What's Your Plan?

I was speaking at an Open House event hosted by one of my resellers this week, when I posed the following question to the attendees, "How many of you have an evacuation plan or procedure in place at your facility currently?" As I expected, nearly everyone in the room raised their hands.

I continued, "Fantastic! Now how many of those plans include a policy for managing visitors in the building at the time of the evacuation?" I watched as all of the raised hands slowly went down.

Sadly, this was not very surprising to me.  Many customers I talk to on a daily basis are extremely proud of their lockdown or evacuation plans, yet they almost always forget to include visitors in those plans.  Why is that? Visitors are just as important as the employees or students or patients or whoever else may be in the facility at the time.  And an organization is just as liable for those visitors as they are for their own employees! Yet somehow it is the visitors who always seem to get overlooked.

As a group, we discussed this problem for a few minutes and I watched as a few people started to realize just how serious of an issue this could be for them and their organization.  I asked one of them, "Let's say you were visiting my company and there was a fire and I didn't have a proper plan in place to account for you while you were visiting. You would be pretty upset, wouldn't you?" He quickly nodded his head in agreement.

Another attendee volunteered that they don't necessarily have a plan for visitors, but they do have a paper log that lists all of the visitors that have signed in that day.  If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, but visitor log books will never be able to accurately account for who is actually in your facility.  There are dozens of reasons why, but here are my top two.

1. Visitors are almost never asked to present ID when signing in a log book, so you can't validate that they are who they claim to be.  (What is to stop me from signing in as Dr. Pepper?)

2. Many visitors view log books as a privacy concern because they are open for anyone to flip through and read, so if they don't use a false name, they sign the log illegibly. This prevents you from going back through and using that list of names for any reporting later on.

There are so many fantastic electronic visitor management solutions available today that customers can easily remedy the problem.  Furthermore, by integrating electronic  management with an access control solution, they would be able to gain a real time list of everyone that is in the facility at any given moment - from visitors to contractors to employees - essentially anyone that they might need to track in the event of an emergency.

Now that is what I call having a plan.