Top 5 Things to Consider When Buying a Business Access Control System

Business access control systems are a common feature amongst businesses, but how do you choose the best solution for your needs? Every business is unique in the level of protection, customization, and features needed so we have put together a list of 5 things to know when buying a new access control system. Here we will help guide you through weighing your options and highlighting the differences between types of access control systems, features to consider, and budget.

There are two categories when it comes to business access control systems: physical and logical. Physical access control focuses on controlling access to a physical location or building, while logical access control refers to data or cybersecurity. Here we will be discussing physical access control systems.

What is a business access control system?

As the name suggests, a business access control systems manages who can enter a building or room, and when. Most commonly they are installed at building entrances, interior doors, elevators, and gates to ensure only individuals with approval can access them. Access is commonly granted by the company’s owner, leadership team, or security team.

Business access control systems generally consist of electronic hardware (replacing traditional lock and keys) that can be activated by key cards, pin numbers, fobs, smartphones, and/or facial recognition software. These systems not only control the locks on the door, but also track who entered an area and when. Access control systems are important for protecting your proprietary information, and for the safety of your employees and visitors. So, let’s dive into the top 5 things to consider when choosing a business access control system.PhotoStock_Access-control_GettyImage-1025824840-1

Building access control models

There are three primary models of access control. These models differ in how access is managed and should be chosen based on your building’s security needs.

  1. Mandatory (MAC): A mandatory access control model is used for high-security organizations requiring confidentiality. There is only one system administrator (usually the chief security officer) in charge of establishing assess permissions for employees.

  2. Discretionary (DAC): The discretionary access control model is the least restrictive and gives multiple administrators the ability to manage access to employees.

  3. Role-based (RBAC): For role-based access control systems, access is granted based on your position or role at the company. The building administrators will assign your role in the system and your access will align with your job duties.

When choosing a building access control system, it is important to select an option that aligns with your organizational structure and security needs.

Open access control or proprietary access control?

An open access control system means that the hardware and software are interchangeable. This means that you can operate the hardware with software from a different provider. A proprietary access control system is the opposite, you must use the manufacturers hardware and software to operate the system.

By nature, this means that open access control systems are easier to upgrade. If you want to upgrade a proprietary access control system, you may need to replace all the hardware and software at the same time. When considering which type of access control system to install, make sure you think about the life span and maintenance plan of the product to ensure that you are comfortable with its requirements.

Legacy access control or cloud-based access control?

While cloud-based access control systems are much more popular, legacy systems are still installed in some cases. A legacy system requires and onsite server (or server room) to store data and software. They are largely seen as outdated due to not receiving automatic updates, and the need to have professional staff on site to maintain and manage them. This causes them to have high maintenance costs and they rarely integrate with other building systems.

Cloud-based systems do not require a server or server room because all the data is stored in the cloud. There is no need to have an on-site professional to complete upgrades or bug fixes, and the upfront installation costs are low. They also have the ability to integrate with other property technology, smart locks, management software, and smartphones.

Different types of access control systems

There are six main access control systems to consider when making a choice for your business. Many businesses use a combination of them depending on their facility.

  • Key card and/or key fob systems

  • Keypad or pin pad systems

  • Mobile access systems

  • Video access systems

  • Facial recognition or biometric systems

The decision of which type of access control hardware to install ultimately impacts your employees (the end users). As we mentioned earlier, many businesses use a combination of these to accommodate different areas of their facility. In high security areas a biometric or video access system may be the best option to gather high quality data of who enters a space. Whereas a keypad or pin pad would work well for an individual office or storage area.

Access control systems integration

Every business uses a lot of technology throughout the day. Everything from our communication platforms to our HVAC systems are part of our technological ecosystem. It is important to incorporate solutions that integrate well with one another. This is extremely important to remember when considering a business access control system. Installing a solution that integrates into your existing environment will make it easier to use, maintain, upgrade, and save you cost in the long run. Always discuss the solutions you currently have with providers to ensure that you are selecting a system that will work best for your needs.

If you have any questions about business access control systems or are interested in discussing the implementation of a new system, reach out to us at or call 763-475-5500.


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