Headteacher Magazine, guide to services and products for UK Schools
Visitor management solutions are becoming more prevalent within schools today, particularly since the introduction of GDPR. To comply with the new regulation many are choosing to opt for a more secure method of managing their visitors and data. Making the right choice of provider is important for schools as there are many factors to consider and various issues that can arise. This article aims to outline the potential pitfalls to avoid when making the switch to digital visitor management.
Integration failure = manual data entry
Information regarding students and staff is typically stored in a schools MIS. Without the ability to read this information a sign in solution requires manual entry or constant import and export of datasheets. This is where signing in systems can fail, as the import or manual entry of each staff member or student can lead to the inaccurate recording of information or even someone forgetting, and data not being imported at all. Integrating a sign in solution with the schools MIS not only allows them to read staff and student information, it means any additions are automatically imported each day. At the start of each school year, year groups are also added without the need for datasheet imports saving time and effort for administration staff.
Avoiding downtime = robust hardware and comprehensive warranty.
Sign in solutions form a critical part of safeguarding in a lot of schools. They also provide accurate information regarding who is on or offsite in case of emergency. A comprehensive sign in solution will also offer you an extended warranty on all your hardware for up to 3 years. It will be vandal resistant and purpose-built to handle the day to day volume of different users.
If things go wrong = responsive support
Basic visitor and staff sign in tools can be downloaded from the internet. These solutions, albeit lightweight, are adequate for some schools until there is a problem. Support, in this case, is limited and can result in long periods without the ability to use the system or even loss of data. There is usually no telephone support, and it can take days for someone to respond via email. A supported sign in solution means issues can be dealt with instantly via remote connection.
GDPR = not all solutions support compliance
Managing the personal information of visitors is crucial to comply with GDPR, and although sign in solutions are much more secure than paper-based methods, some visitor management systems can also fall short of the mark. Sign in solutions should recognise the sensitivity of the data they manage and offer control over accessibility. To keep identity information secure, data must be securely encrypted back to a schools’ central database with no unauthorised access available to individual components such as screens and scanners.
Flexibility = data management on the move
When schools are hosting busy events, it isn’t always possible to manage everything through a single console. Mobile access means sign in solutions should be accessible on the go from any device.
Customisation = creating the right impression
A sign in system is one of the first things visitors and parents see when they arrive in a school. It should look modern and professional, but also reflect the school’s brand and ethos. It should come with the ability to customise the dashboard with things like logos or specific colours and backgrounds.
Reporting = don’t do the work twice
Sign in solutions can provide very powerful information that can be used for Ofsted and other safeguarding audits. The ability to manipulate and utilise this data allows schools to provide instant reports from a single central record. Feedback can be sent daily to heads of year detailing late arriving pupils. Attendance officers can be sent daily, weekly or monthly reports. Staff can have their own sign in and out report for logging hours and accruing overtime.
Emergencies = data when you need it
In an emergency (even if only a drill), evacuation information must work first time, every time. There can be no errors in the data and mix-ups with staff. Some sign in solutions are not able to provide sign in information instantly or full evacuation information for students from their MIS. Sign in solutions need to harness the power of mobile apps to provide up to the minute evacuation information, even when offline.
Installation and Training = hit the ground running
For a fully integrated sign in solution you need a provider who understands the complexities of delivering sign in systems to make sure you’re ready to go on the day of installation. A professionally installed sign in solution creates a modern appearance when visitors arrive in a school. When not done correctly it can result in cables trailing everywhere, the screen being incorrectly mounted, or not even mounted at all.
User Experience = virtual hand holding
A major reason for having a sign in solution in a school is to speed up the sign in process. Too often sign in systems slow down the process because they don’t function correctly, resulting in a negative and difficult experience for the user. Being too slow isn’t the only problem. To cater to a variety of users, it should be intuitive – it should be a simple experience that guides users through the process, without the need for any human intervention.
There is no doubt of the benefits that a complete sign in solution can bring to the school environment. Implemented correctly, a sign in solution improves efficiency and safeguards everyone in your school in case of an emergency. It also creates the right impression by providing a modern and professional greeting to your reception area. While this article has highlighted some areas for consideration, the implementation of a modern visitor management system can be an easy, trouble-free process. Implemented correctly in partnership with an experienced provider, the pitfalls can be avoided, and the full benefits of the system, tailored to your school can be unlocked. Talk to Pure AV about how the InVentry visitor management system can add value to your school sign in experience.
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