Photo ID Badge Policies and Procedures:
Deployment: Procurement and System Configuration
Regardless if this is your first badging deployment initiative or if you're a seasoned veteran that manages a large badge office, understanding the proper processes of purchasing and configuring a new system will be a major factor in the success of your badging program. We have broken deployment down into two primary categories: procurement and configuration. Procurement: The good thing is that there are several hundred reputable businesses in the badge identification industry in North America one can evaluate. A majority of them are box-movers that offer low cost as a substitute for product knowledge and support. eXpress badging falls in the smaller category of industry committed badge integrators where security and providing the best solution backed by great customer service and support are the primary business objectives. What is a badge integrator? For starters, they are businesses that only represent a select few manufacturers of badging related products opposed to box-movers that carrying every manufacturer within the industry. A vendor that represents a box-mover business model is great for consumers buying based on "perceived*" low price . But if you're looking to acquire an efficient and secure turnkey solution that offers the lowest cost of ownership , you will want a badge integrator . Why is this so? Let's take a closer look at the manufacturers in the personal identity business. Each manufacturer has a legacy or previous product line or two, a current product line and the new and approved product line that is being released in the future. Keep in mind that each product line represents many tiers of individual products. There are currently dozens of manufacturers in the business. Each manufacturer represents up to a dozen badge printer models, several versions of software, several digital camera models and a variety of support options. One vendor cannot support all of that. So ask the prospective vendor, "what product line is your company best at supporting?". Support is the key! You should only evaluate what they can support. You will also find that a badge integrator offers a variety of badge technology solutions such as the following: employee time and attendance, job tracking, visitor management, door access control, remote employee/student tracking, cash card point of sale, network logical access (computer log in using a card), fuel management, membership tracking, loyalty card programs, assess tracking, and other solutions that use a technology-enabled badge or card to authenticate the user. Basically making the badge a true high-tech tool in the operations of day to day operations and security. A badge integrator takes these badge driven solutions to the next level by integrating them with existing organization databases and other relevant software solutions for increased operation's efficiency. So you can either look at a "box mover", "distributor" or "warehouse wholesaler" if "perceived*" lowest price is your primary focus. Or you can spend a little more time and build a relationship with a badge integrator that will approach your project with an end to end solution, keeping the total cost of ownership and security as the primary objective.
- * Remember , you are buying/managing a security solution, not office equipment and consumables. "Perceived" lowest price is an assumption that you are saving your organization money by purchasing the lowest priced solution that appears to be equal. This may or may not be the case. If you take into consideration vendor relations and total cost of ownership, lowest price often ends up costing more long term. Long term, there is increased value for your organization in having established vendor relationships that focus on providing an efficient and secure solution that is based on total cost of ownership.
With the knowledge that there are hundreds of badge printers, software versions, and digital cameras to select from, how do you know what is best for your business? Unless you have immersed yourself in research, this is where badge integrators are important. And staying current is a challenge for even for those who consider themselves identification technologists. The personal identity industry has become mind-boggling, to say the least, and your organization's overall security is at risk if your identity system is not configured and managed properly. You cannot assume the vendor has all the answers to what will be best for your organization. A little homework is in order here. The first is knowing why personal identity is important for your organization and what policies and procedures are in place to enforce it. See our "Directives" knowledge base article for more information. When selecting the correct product mix, there are some web-based selection tools that will assist you in narrowing down what printer and software are best for your organization. But there is no substitute for picking up the phone and talking to a personal identity professional. Before you start speaking to vendors or surfing the web, take some time and review our badge printer and software selection tutorials. They will fast track you in understanding what you need to know and better prepare you to engage a badge vendor. Also, consider:
- Where the system will be installed;
- is there enough room for printer placement/management?
- will you need network access for system backup?
- will you have access to a centralized server for secured placement of data and images?
- will you have immediate access to a phone for support calls?
- is there proper lighting for quality photo capture?
- if the environment has poor lighting, did you specify a digital camera with flash?
- do you have enough room for proper backdrop & digital camera placement?
- are there enough USB ports on the PC to connect all badging peripherals (printer, camera, scanners...)?
- is your PC protected with an uninterruptable power supply & surge (UPS)?
- Will you need to secure (limit access to) and have backups of captured badge enrollee data and photos?
- do you test your backups from time to time: backup, then restore to a test PC?
- If you will be inventorying sequentially numbered, custom printed or using security sealed card stock, do you have a secured storage environment, along with established inventory reporting schedules?
- Does the system user have the skill-set to manage a badging solution that is software and hardware-centric?
- Are you budgeting system life cycle replacement every 5 years or sooner?
- Support models;
- Are you budgeting out of warranty repairs and support?
- how long can you manage without being able to issue personalized badges?
- if system downtime must be limited to a few business days, have you budgeted for annual support contracts after hardware and software warranties expire?
- how will you manage moving the system to new computers?
- would you rather call a single vendor technician or several manufacturer support call centers?
Summary: In summary, knowing what your badge initiative objects are will help you know what type of vendor is best for your organization. Also having an understanding of your badging needs will allow you to engage related vendors more effectively saving your organization resources long term. It is important to keep in mind, purchasing badge issuance equipment, supplies and services are not the only costs associated with your badging initiative. Other internal costs to consider are:
- developing and documenting executive directives that dictate effective and secure badging policies and procedures
- proper badge workstation configuration; computer, furniture, phone, printer workspace...
- proper photo capture configuration; digital camera location/proximity, photo backdrop setup, seating, wall color...
- trained employees in badge issuance policies and procedures
- usage and compliance orientation for employees, students, visitors and/or members
- external & internal ongoing technical support for maintenance and related IT management
- back-end accounting practices required for asset management
- labor downtime required to issue/reissue badges to employees and paid contractors
Selecting the most cost-effective solution and vendor will have a direct effect in reducing your costs in badge issuance; not only in systems, services, and supplies but your internal costs of ongoing management. Not to mention ensuring that your personal identity initiative is secure!
Up and coming photo ID badge policies and procedures knowledge base articles will cover:
- Deployment: Procurement and Configuration
- Badge Design and Functionality
- Issuance Management
- Verification and Observation
Author: Joe French