Badging Software Selection Tutorial

Badging Software Selection Tutorial
The decision to produce ID badges in-house requires specialized software so you can manage all aspects of badge issuance: badge design, data entry, data integration, photo capture/storage, enable badge printing and encoding. There are many factors that you should consider when selecting badging software and the version level that will best meet your requirements. Do not assume that purchasing the least expensive software is best for your organization; unless you have predetermined that it is the best fit based on a needs analysis. Below you will find some common questions industry professionals ask in order to determine what version of a badging software solution is the best fit.
Selection Tutorial Q&A
  1. Will the software be installed on more than one computer at a single and/or remote location/s?
    - This may require purchasing multiple badging software licenses depending on version and database configuration. - If the badge printer and drivers are setup properly, then you will be able to print from multiple locations depending on the version of badging software selected. - Photo capture will either require using one defined badging station, physically moving a single camera setup, or having multiple camera setups. - The same applies if you have other peripheral devices being used like: scanners, signature capture, enrollment readers etc. - Some badging software versions permit multiple installations of a single license but limited to a single sign-on occurrence.
  2. If using multiple badging stations, will you require the software to be managed off a single networked database or have each location operate as standalone systems? - A networked database will enable a shared environment for photo capture, data entry, queries, reporting, etc.
  3. Will you require multiple users accounts with different security rights? - This is an upgrade in most badging software versions.
  4. Will you want the photograph files and database located (networked) on a remote computer? - This is an ideal configuration, even if using one badging station, and is an advanced upgrade feature in many versions allowing key configuration files (graphics, photos, database, installation sets...) to be located in an environment that is centralized, secure and backed up regularly.
  5. Will you need access to individually captured photographs as separate image files for use in other applications? - Some software packages store the photo files in the database, or blob formats, and cannot be accessed or retrieved as a separate .jpg image. - Another advance upgrade feature allows for photo image files to be saved to a mapped location using available data (emplnum.jpg or last_first_idnum.jpg).
  6. Will you be managing multiple badge designs? - Some software packages create separate database tables for each design. Not very user-friendly regarding queries, reporting, and changing badge types within the same record. - Some can be linked to single databases, but not very user-friendly. - We recommend a single database for the average installation, using data to determine the badge type.
  7. If using multiple badge designs, will you want the data entered to determine the badge type automatically? - This is an upgrade feature in most badging software versions. - Reduces the error of user printing the wrong badge. - When batch printing, this feature pays off big! - The basic option is selecting/assigning a template from a list before printing.  
  8. Would you like to be able to utilize auto sequencing of numbers, auto date stamps upon a defined action, checkbox selection or drop-down list for data entry? - These are several advanced upgrade features found in different versions.
  9. Will you be issuing a badge that has technology (RFID/proximity, barcode, magnetic stripe, contact smart chip, contactless smart card) that is used in door-access, time and attendance, point of sale, network logical access (pc login) or another application? - If you are not currently using and do not have the budget to deploy a card based data collection or security system, it is recommended to hold off selecting a technology, as configuration issues may require rebadging regardless.  - If you have an existing system, make sure you know the system manufacturer name, installing vendor if different, and the exact reader technology being used.  - It is not uncommon to have multiple technologies on one badge. (RFID with mag stripe, and/or barcode...)
  10. If your badge is used for door access, does the access control software either have a built-in badge issuance module or does the software manufacturer have a recommended badging software (get the version) they interface with? - This is a good option so that with a single entry of data, a card is issued and enrolled all in one step.  - Even if security manages access rights, a client license of the access control software can be installed in human resources for badge enrollment, and then the card is activated by security once cleared/approved. - Many door access systems have badging modules but lack some of the advanced features that you may require in order to best manage your issuance long term.  - Most advanced badging software versions will allow for integration into existing door access databases for enrollment; however, most database administrators opt out and will have you, or the authorized user, re-enter the user in the door access system along with access privileges and rights. - It is not typical for time and attendance systems to have badging modules; however many do interface via ODBC and other data interfaces.
  11. Will you want to use an existing database (MS Access, SQL, Oracle...)? - In most cases, the database administrator will provide a table view so you will not have rights to edit their live data.
  12. Will you need to use multiple tables within a database? - An advanced question for your database admin person.
  13. Will you need to interface with multiple databases? - An advanced question for your database admin person .
  14. Will you be importing and/or exporting data on a regular basis? - An advanced question for your database admin person.
  15. Will you be using RFID cards or Smart Cards? - If yes, you may consider adding an enrollment reader, so all you have to do is present the card after printing to the badge number field to automatically enroll the badge's unique number, versus manually typing in the number . - For larger projects, and with advanced badging software, the PVC printer may be enabled to program the RFID or Smart Chip upon printing using data from the badging software.
  16. Will you need to produce badge issuance reports? - Acceptable reporting features are only offered in a select few badging software versions.
  17. Will you be converting over from another badging system? - This is important if you want to use existing data and photos. - Plan on rebuilding your badge templates.
  18. Will you require a signature capture? If you answered yes, please make sure you read the KB article on uses of  signatures for identification.
  19. Most PVC printers are shipped with free badging software that is very limited. - Single sided printing - No mag encoding - Limited number of data fields and formatting - Standalone/single user with no rights restrictions.
So are you ready to select your badging software configuration and version?
Is a Basic Version your choice?
  1. Single-user environments
  2. When networking to is not required.
  3. When connection to existing data is not required
  4. When an MS Access database is acceptable
Is a Standard Version your choice?
  1. When there is more than one user
  2. When there is more than one implementation/location
  3. When centralized management is desired
  4. When ODBC database connection is required
  5. When the data entry screen layout needs customization
Is an Enterprise Version your choice?
  1. When advanced field formatting (pull-down lists, post-print updates, modified data types) is desired
  2. When advanced security is a key issue
  3. When ID cards need to be printed from another program through Command Line Interface.
  4. When records need to be updating in batches
  5. When connecting to multiple tables and/or multiple databases.
We address installation/setup, training and support separately, so please make sure you review those articles as well. If you find this information helpful please let us know by using the "Reader Comments" tab. Please let us know any questions that we have not presented so we can share them with others.

Author: Joe French

Tags:  software


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