But if physical keys are here to stay in our digital world, that poses some management challenges. For example, how do we track keys when the rest of our organizations are online? Key management systems offer an answer.
This purchasing guide for key tracking systems covers everything you need to consider before making one of these major purchases. Next, we’ll review the hidden costs of key management you need to be aware of and highlight the essential features of key tracker systems that you’ll want to compare. Finally, we end with a purchasing checklist you can use to prepare for your key tracker purchase.
Table of Contents
The Hidden Costs of Manual Key Management
Many organizations think key management systems are an unnecessary cost they don’t need to carry. That is, at least until a major loss or theft requires them to undertake a major rekeying. However, key management systems actually save organizations time and money in the long run. If you don’t think so, consider these hidden costs associated with key management.
Features to Looking for When Comparing Key Tracking Systems
Comparing different key tracking systems on the market can feel like a bewildering experience. Some boast a laundry list of features so long it is hard to tell what actually matters. Let us simplify things. When researching different key systems, you need to compare these essential features.
10-Step Purchasing Checklist to Get the Best Fit Key Management System
Buying a new key tracker system doesn’t need to be a headache for your team. Follow this flexible 10-step purchasing guide to make sure you’re dotting the right I’s and crossing the right T’s, and you’re sure to get the most value for your money in any new system you purchase. Just a little bit of planning like this will pay for itself for years to come.
Define your challenges
Start by brainstorming all the key management and key security challenges you face. Also, try to brainstorm challenges in the workflows within which those keys are used that better management can help.
Document regulatory requirements
One specific set of challenges you need to think about is any regulatory requirements your company faces. For example, you might need to keep audit trails on all keys, key transactions, system alarms, or user transactions.
Set strategic goals
With all your challenges and other business requirements outlined, now think about your strategic goals for improving high security electronic key management. This step isn’t about technology. Instead, it is about the underlying business practices you want to improve and how changing them supports your organization’s greater goals. For example, do you want more detailed reporting and auditing? Fewer key losses? Reduce staffing for manual key transactions?
Plan your tentative installation
Now that your higher-level business needs are documented, you should start planning how, when, and where your personnel will use a new key system. Determine what size and type of key drop box best fit your needs. Next, identify locations as close to the point of need as possible where you could install those cabinets.
Then audit your existing infrastructure that might be affected by installing a new key tracking system, namely network and electrical infrastructure. Then, document processes and policies that will be affected, such as new hire intake processes and access control policies for sensitive locations.
Consider future growth
What appears sufficient space today might be cramped two years down the road. So plan for expansion now, and you will avoid having to replace an entire, inadequate key tracking system later.
Research options on the market
Now it is time to see what options are on the market. Whether you plan to visit trade shows, contact known providers directly, or research online, the planning you’ve done up to this point should help you better evaluate each potential candidate.
Create a shortlist
Narrow your options down to the ones that appear most likely to fit your criteria and contact the providers to get quotes.
Project your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
Some key tracking system providers will offer price comparison sheets. Take those with a grain of salt, as they usually only present upfront costs. What you want to compare is the total cost of ownership, which includes all expenses incurred over the expected lifetime of the system. Include in your TCO comparisons support costs, system updates, customization, reporting, and ongoing maintenance of your system.
Also ask about warranty options. Some vendors provide a standard one-year warranty, while others have expanded options. Is the warranty all-inclusive? If not, what’s excluded, and what are the cost implications if something goes wrong?
Demo your final candidates
Take every system that meets your TCO requirements and get a thorough demonstration of its capabilities from the provider. That should give you the final information you need to purchase.
All that is left is to execute. Make your purchase and begin your key tracking system installation. Then, you’re on your way to better, more cost-effective key management.
Are you ready to plan your key tracking system purchase?
Then check out our even more detailed guide, the Real Time Networks Top 10 Purchasing Checklist for Key Management Systems.
About the Author
Vice President of Marketing
Jay oversees marketing and strategic partnerships at Real Time Networks and has over three decades of experience in leadership roles in the financial services and technology industries.