Alexion Pharmaceutical stays on top of tech innovations with integrated visitor management system
First impressions are the most important, and when you’re consistently listed as one of the top five innovative companies in the world, it simply won’t do to ask your visitors to sign-in on a paper logbook.
Alexion Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical firm that specializes in treatments for rare diseases, makes it a company practice to use innovative technology whenever and wherever possible; however, Alexion’s U.S. Headquarters in New Haven, Connecticut, had a process for visitor management that was proving inadequate for a company ranked on Forbes’ “Top 25 Most Innovative Companies in the World”.
“With visitor management, we needed to get away from having that paper book, which is next to useless,” Brian Phillips, Associate Director of Physical Security, Technology, & Integration said. “Our company as a whole is very innovative and we are always challenged to think of creative ways to handle our problems.” In his previous work in the pharmaceutical industry, Phillips had become familiar with Veristream, an online Software as a Service (SaaS) visitor management system. Phillips soon suggested that Alexion switch over.
“When I thought about needing to know who was on-site, this was the most innovative solution I knew of for such a task”
“When I thought about needing to know who was on-site, this was the most innovative solution I knew of for such a task,” he said. Veristream provides cloud- based software that increases security, simplifies badging, and frees up IT staff time. For Alexion, one of the key attractions to Veristream was the reduced demand on the company’s own staff. “Our global security team is the security support for most of our sites,” Phillips said. “Most are very small in headcount, so they don’t have a dedicated person to help. Having a secure online system where I can say, ‘Hey, just hit this URL and you are up and running,’ was important to me. Anywhere we can rely less on support from IT, we are trying to go that route. If I can support it from my end by having that secure online system, it works better for me and for IT as well.”
“With 35 sites all over the world, the fast-growing Alexion needed more than just basic visitor management”
In addition to the headquarters, various other sites were in particular need of a visitor management system that could grow with their needs. These included a plant in Smithfield, Rhode Island; an office in Cambridge, Massachusetts; an international headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland; a new plant in Ireland; plus two more locations in the planning stages in Tokyo, Japan and Mumbai, India.
Phillips had tried working with the existing automated visitor management system, but it did not go well. “The existing [visitor management system] was a nightmare to set up,” he said. “We could never get it there.”
“The other system required a SQL server and client to connect, more rack space, and more people to support that server and deal with it. Ultimately it was much easier to change the visitor management system than the access control system.”
Innovation In Our DNA
The check-in process itself is one of the more high- tech aspects of a visitor management system. Visitors are pre-registered online, and the Alexion host is notified via e-mail or text when their guest arrives. Upon arrival, visitors are directed to an iPad kiosk to complete the registration process, like signing an NDA or an agreement to be escorted on the premises at all times.
Phillips expressed the importance of picking a system that matched well with the company. “From our leadership, we are challenged to have the best in class — innovative but tried,” he said.
“We also leverage driver’s license scanners in the U.S. and use the iPads at the reception desks."
“We use these kiosks for registration when they enter the lobby. My boss likes toys [so] the visitor management system with the cool iPads in the lobby was definitely a seller. We have a stock of access badges in sleeves, so when a visitor’s identity is validated, we simply put a paper visitor badge in front of that proximity card.”
There are many variables to consider when selecting a visitor management solution. Cost, capabilities, platform, and UI should all be considered when comparing products. The individual needs of your facility will be the ultimate deciding factor. Let us help you with our expertise by incorporating our industry best practices.