Cody Horchak 3 min read

Retrofitting Access Control Part 4: The Brains of This Operation

This is part 4 of a daily series on challenging conventions in the access control world and retrofitting our perspective on what’s best for people, businesses, buildings, and the world. Click here to start the series from the beginning. Stay tuned for part 5 on waste coming tomorrow.

Updating an access control system puts a lot of strain on many of your organizational functions, from IT to finance to communications to procurement and beyond. But no area of your business is impacted as much as the people who will actually have to oversee the installation and long-term management of whatever infrastructure you decide to put in place.

It might be difficult to anticipate from the comfort of an office or conference room, but your decision to update or replace your access control systems has an enormous impact on your on-the-ground operations team. You need to compare the advantages and costs and choose carefully.

Meet the New Boss, NOT the Same as the Old Boss

At first glance, all access control systems may appear very similar. Whatever the structure or access points they’re supposed to control, they all have more or less the same functionality. A new one might come with some extra features, but at a fundamental level, the user experience is similar to pretty much every other system that’s been installed and used over the last 40 years.

It’s easy to underestimate how much is going on “behind the scenes.” However, there are important differences that your operational staff and management will need to make big changes for.

In reality, tearing out an old access control system and replacing it with another requires far more than some new hardware. You’re looking at new installation and troubleshooting diagrams, new standard operating procedures, and new cross-system integrations, just to name a few.

Relationships with former vendors go out the window as you start from scratch with your new provider. You may have to shell out for your team to receive training and certification for the new system, or increase your headcount and hire new staff who know how to manage it.

Routine maintenance or setting adjustments that your team has mastered will suddenly become time-consuming and cumbersome until they can learn the new system. That has a spillover effect on other responsibilities of your operations function that is no longer getting the same time and attention.

Retrofit, Not Reinvent

It’s very likely that your existing access control infrastructure is entirely functional, and that your operations staff have a well-established process for managing and maintaining it. So instead of reinventing a perfectly good wheel just to add a few modern features, retrofit it.

A good access control retrofit solution will let you keep all your current systems while adding new essentials like mobile access via smartphone. You’ll keep all that investment into training, institutional knowledge, and hardware, and avoid disrupting a well-oiled machine.

Your budget will thank you—and so will your operations team.