Sponsored by InstaKey
Every facility uses some level of key control to ensure the utmost in safety for employees and asset security. Choosing a key control solution for your environment is only the first step. What happens after that determines how effective and costly your program will be. Implementing these top key control best practices can make or break your program (and your budget).
In general industry terms, a key control program is a formally documented system of locks, keys, and who has those keys. But some retailers use more complex methodologies, such as InstaKey’s key control system, that are designed to exert control over locks, keys that have access to those locks, and who has access to those keys. Such systems can control the distribution of keys, protect against unauthorized duplication, and deliver visibility for management in a cloud-based platform.
Best Practices of an Effective Key Control Program
By following these recommendations, loss prevention organizations can create a comprehensive program that will maximize facility safety and security:
1. Use restricted, uniquely marked keys, to eliminate the possibility of unauthorized and undocumented duplicates. Each key used in the facility should always be identifiable and easily tracked. If a traditional mechanical key system uses keys that can be duplicated, the entire system is jeopardized. Controlling how keys are made and who has them is essential to providing even modest security to a facility.
2. Formally define when locks in the facility should be changed. This type of defined protocol can significantly reduce long-term costs. Consider only changing locks if a key is lost, stolen, or is not returned by a terminated employee. Of course, this is only recommended if you are practicing best practice #1. Otherwise, you should rekey each time an employee leaves.
3. Develop an efficient way to change your locks. The time and effort needed when lock changes are deemed necessary can be significantly reduced with user-rekeyable locks. Traditional mechanical key systems that require locksmith labor to rekey or swap cores have some inherent deficiencies that don’t make them the best choice in maximizing efficiency and reducing costs for your facility because the need for a locksmith (or your staff’s time for program management)is generally expensive.And, the need for a locksmith rarely comes during normal business hours. If it is not cost effective to rekey a facility at appropriate times, you might elect to delay rekeying to a point in the future, when it might fit better within your budget. But this is another serious flaw with traditional mechanical locks. Rekeying is an integral part of maintaining security. To mitigate this possibility, you should choose a system that is not only secure, but will also be cost effective in the future.
4. Embrace technology. The right technology can dramatically improve the efficiency and effectiveness of a key control program. A cloud-based records management systemshould be used to manage all key control data, and that data should be immediately accessible from any smart device. Such functionality would provide multiple users secured access to data from anywhere and be administered according to differing levels of authorization. This way, LP—along with various levels of management—can get the answers right when they are needed.
5. Audit keys and keyholders regularly. Checking in on your key holders to ensure that your facility is in compliance and that keys are all accounted for is a great way to be proactive with your program. This can also help to keep the importance of your facility’s overall safety and security in focus for everyone. If a key is lost, stolen, or not returned by a key holder, you’ll need to refer to best practice #2 in this list.
6. Implement ongoing, facility-wide training and education. A dedicated program administrator should oversee this training and establish set policies and procedures that are clear, concise, and readily available to all employees and staff.Through the sharing of this knowledge, you help key holders to regularly improve their personal accountability for their keys.
Management and employees alike must know what protocols to follow amidst a crisis. By establishing a defined protocol for use during a crisis, you provide the needed safety and security to avoid panic, confusion, and misinformation in the moment. Instilling some basic measures is worth the continued safety and security of an entire organization.
Mechanical key systems, when coupled with these key control best practices and effective underlying policies, can provide your facility the highest possible levels of security, protection, and peace of mind.