Friday, April 11, 2014

Three Reasons to Switch From Manual Key Logs to Electronic Key Control

Is your business still using manual logs for key control? Over the last decade, businesses have been moving toward automating business processes to lower costs, improve company efficiency and improve security controls. The benefits of moving away from manual processes are clear: "Digitizing boring, repetitive and error prone tasks can reduce cycle times," reports the Financial Post. But for some businesses, key control processes have been left untouched by the wave of automation. If your business is one of them, here are three reasons to consider using an electronic key control system to manage your key log.

It's Easier to Keep Employees Accountable


man writing on paper
Manual key logs simply require a signature to retrieve a key, with no strict enforcement of accountability. Coca-Cola learned the hard way how important it is to have a reliable audit trail in place after a former supervisor stole three master key rings and used 23 keys to steal thousands of dollars from vending machines.

With an automated key logging system, employees must enter a valid password, swipe a proximity card or scan their fingerprint to gain access to keys. If there are any questions about stolen or missing items, the system records contain a verifiable real-time audit trail.

Automating Transactions Saves Time


Manual key logs seem like they would provide fast transaction times due to their simplicity, but in reality using this method over an automated system doesn't necessarily save users time. Manual logs demand more time because they require employees to write down information, whereas an electronic system instantly records all pertinent information. On average, an electronic system is about twice as fast (sometimes faster) as a manual process.

You also won't have to worry about an employee forgetting to write down when they took a key. If an employee forgets, you'd have to spend time hunting down the key with no clues. An electronic system can help you track down a missing key by sending you a text or email alert of an overdue key, including the name of the employee who last checked it out and what time they took it from the system. This will save you time and ultimately provide tighter security.

Electronic Logs Provide Better Security Controls


Businesses that use manual key logs often rely on key custodians to oversee the logs. There are a couple issues with this method. First, custodians must manually verify a user's access permissions, which is inefficient and error-prone. Second, if a custodian is unavailable for any reason, the area in which the keys and key log are kept must be restricted, inconveniencing anyone who needs keys. On the other hand, if a business uses the honor system to allow employees to remove the keys they need, the business risks the log not being updated properly and employees removing keys they are not authorized to have.

For these reasons, consider a system that has built-in security controls. An electronic system allows users to access keys within predefined business hours, regardless of whether a key custodian is present. Because an audit trail is created when the key is removed, you reduce the likelihood of human error. Finally, if an unauthorized user attempts to access the system, some systems will deny access and issue an audible alarm and/or send a text or email alert.

Have you automated your key control log? Let us know how it's improved your business processes!

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