The Four Critical Components of Key System Management

By Kaitlyn Workman of LockNet

“At LockNet, we’re all about doors and locks. We supply and service doors, locks and hardware to national retail and restaurant chains. Check out our blog, or connect with us on LinkedIn.”

Many organizations have key systems in place, but unless they are setup and managed properly, they can become ineffective and/or cost the organization hundreds to thousands of dollars in unnecessary rekeys. There are many components to consider but the four that prove to be the most critical are:

1. What key system philosophy do you want to follow?
There are many elements to consider when deciding what purpose you want your key system to serve:

  • Do you want your keys to simply lock the doors, or do you want them to be restricted and/or serve as an audit trail?
  • Do you want a system that can easily be rekeyed that costs more up-front, or do you want a standard system that is more costly to rekey?
  • Do you want a system where different personnel have access to different doors?

Answering these questions will help you determine what kind of system is best for you.  There are many different types of key systems out there including: un-restricted systems, restricted systems, proprietary systems, and access control.  Likewise, there are many different types of cylinders including: standard cylinders, interchangeable cylinders, rekeyable cylinders, and eCylinders.  Your responses to the questions above will dictate which combination of system and cylinders is right for your organization.

2. What policies and procedures do you and your key system vendor need to have in place?

Once you select a system, it is crucial that you outline your policies and procedures and implement a structure that will enforce them.  Without policies and procedures, the best planned key system will fall apart.  Critical policies to develop include but are not limited to:

  • How many keys should be issued per store?
  • Who is allowed to carry those keys?
  • What is your rekey avenue?
  • If you have a master system, what kind of doors requires what kind of key, and who is allowed to carry each key?

Similarly, you need to have clear procedures that everyone in your organization understands and enforces.  Some policies to consider include:

  • How does one ask for and receive a key?
  • How are lost/stolen keys reported?
  • How are keys distributed to contractors?

3. What is your rekey protocol?
Regardless of the type of key system you choose, rekeys will be necessary. We have seen rekey requests for reasons ranging from “I flushed my key down the toilet” to “someone stole my keys in the store.” The latter certainly necessitates an emergency rekey, while the former poses very little, if any, threat to the security of the facility. A clear policy and procedure needs to exist that dictates when and how rekeys are to happen.

4. How will your key records be managed?
Records management is essential to the success of any key system. Your records should be computerized, as automated as possible, well maintained, and owned by your organization. Paper records are highly susceptible to human error and can easily get lost.  Believe it or not, there are still a lot of paper records out there. Most importantly, you need to be the owner of your key system, as opposed to the vendor that manages the system for you.

Taking the time to think through and implement the four areas above will result in a well maintained key system that works for your organization without costing you unnecessary money.

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