Facilities managers (FMs) are responsible for ensuring businesses and other organizations have the resources they need to operate their worksites efficiently. Visitor management systems (VMS) are a vital component in these tasks because they provide facilities managers with ways of tracking how people use buildings and how systems are operating, as well as the tools to optimize everything from energy use to physical security.

Below, we’ll look at some of the solutions a visitor management system (VMS) provides to facilities managers so they can keep organizations running smoothly.

What does a facilities manager (FM) do?

Facilities managers wear many hats and have expertise in managing multiple systems. They support people, processes, and technology while maintaining and upgrading the tools needed to keep a building functional and optimized.

Some of the tasks performed by facilities managers include:

  • Maintaining facilities by keeping track of maintenance schedules
  • Keeping buildings secure-but-accessible
  • Managing people flow in to, out of, and within buildings
  • Upgrading technology and integrating this technology into legacy building systems
  • Managing upgrades and repairs
  • Managing compliance in the midst of changing guidelines
  • Keeping buildings comfortable and cost-efficient

How do facilities managers use visitor management systems?

A good visitor management system can help facilities managers oversee the entry and exit of building occupants, contractors, vendors, delivery people, business guests, and other visitors. But a great VMS is also built-out and integrated into a building’s operational systems so that managers can use tools such as geotagging technology, IoT sensors, real-time system management, and predictive analytics – things that allow buildings to be fully optimized.

A VMS will typically be utilized by many (or possibly all) departments. In that sense, facilities managers also play a crucial role in overseeing and championing this technology as its onboarded and upgraded so that it’s used to its fullest potential. And when these systems collect data or detect problems, facilities managers can use VMS data to improve security, reign in operational costs, and suggest improvements.

Hybrid and mobile work have brought new challenges for facilities managers. Unpredictable occupancy rates and work schedules have changed the way buildings operate. But a VMS can help collect the kind of data that increases flexibility and allows buildings and workers to adapt to new situations.

Four solutions a VMS provides for facilities managers

A visitor management system may sound like a set of tools limited to the front door or reception area, but integrations allow the investment to pay off on- and off-site. Here are four solutions that a visitor management tool like Sine’s can provide to facilities managers:

1. Sustainability Solutions

When office buildings went dark for weeks or months at the height of the pandemic, it upset the carefully calibrated systems of most buildings. These included lighting, HVAC, water use, security cameras, locks, and other emergency systems, to name a few. This wasted energy in commercial districts and caused new problems when electric grids in residential areas started being used to power work tools. 

When workers began to return to offices, social distancing needs and ventilation were at the forefront of their minds. Yet, building systems weren’t often set up to measure or manage new occupancy rates, and HVACs weren’t necessarily capable of circulating air as rapidly as we expected. To top it off, HVACs and thermostats aren’t always up to the challenge of dealing with the increasingly unpredictable heat waves or other extreme weather events we’re already getting a taste of.

Energy efficiency is crucial to many business plans and to customer and worker sentiment. As a result, businesses are increasingly trying to meet more ambitious sustainability goals. That’s why a VMS that can track occupancy rates, record new patterns, and use technology such as 5G to communicate with building systems in real-time is becoming increasingly important. They help facilities managers keep buildings comfortable and healthy as well as cost-efficient and energy-friendly to meet these – sometimes competing – needs.

facilities management sustainability ESG

2. Productivity and collaboration solutions

Executives are increasingly anxious about getting workers back into the office or finding ways to help them collaborate from off-site locations. From a facilities management point of view, this is important because hybrid and remote workers still draw on an organization’s resources, and their expertise is often tapped to find ways to make buildings more inviting to expand resources beyond their walls.

Visitor management systems can help manage hotdesking and hoteling capabilities and schedule meeting rooms and other facilities as needed. They can also be used to help plan for repurposing a space that’s being underutilized.

 A VMS’s main job is to validate and manage entry to a building, so even at their most simple, they play a role in helping workers understand buildings conditions better, making occupancy visible, and providing real-time information that allows workers make informed decisions about how and when to use the office.  This software can even help schedule everything from conference room reservations to maintenance, repair, and upgrades.

3. Technology to keep occupants and information secure

To optimize building systems, facilities managers need to base their best practices on the most relevant, real-time data. A VMS can collect and store data on all building occupants in order to help managers make good public health decisions (such as rethinking occupancy rates), limit access to the building for security purposes (decisions that often need to be made in real-time), and provide the kind of physical security solutions that keeps company assets safe.

The use of mobile technology can make building data even more accessible, going so far as to allow timely warnings to occupants who may be in danger or serving as a “guest pass” that keeps people out of sensitive areas where they can do damage to a company’s systems (or allow frequent entrants frictionless entrance).

4. Data solutions to ensure compliance

Data collection is only useful when the results can be processed, used to illuminate trends, and kept within legal and other compliance boundaries (since fines for mismanaging data can reach into the millions).

When Sine’s VMS collects data, for example, it can be programmed to collect and store only what it needs and uses cloud-based systems to keep that data private and secure. This can be particularly important as new data governance rules come into play, such as GDPR in the UK.

Facilities managers can also use a VMS to:

  • Access data via an intuitive interface
  • Run reports that allow them to see trends in data usage
  • Communicate with compliance officers and ship data off to legal or HR safely (or receive that data, depending on how a company is structured)
  • View operator histories to monitor who is accessing data
  • Track safety trends and even prepopulate public health forms for government reporting (for COVID-19 compliance, for example)

The solution is designed to help employers meet the increasingly complex legal and compliance responsibilities that have emerged as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing cybersecurity risks. A 2021 study of organizations showed that in 2021 it took an average of 146 hours in 2021 to detect a cybersecurity incident (compared to 117 hours in 2020 and 120 hours in 2019).

Facilities management technology solutions

Why facilities managers need a good VMS

By now, it should be clear why a system like Sine’s VMS is no longer optional in helping facilities managers do their work. And while facilities management software first emerged in the 1970s (with simple spreadsheets) and took off in the 1990s, 23% of facilities managers were still using pen and paper methods as recently as 2015 (and the number was 33% in education).

With sustainability goals changing, safety and cybersecurity at risk, compliance requirements changing, and commercial real estate owners trying to get workers back to the office, a visitor management platform may be a facility manager’s most important tool for making it all come together.

Ready to discover how Sine can help transform your facilities management processes? Book a free, live demo with our team today!