What Is Key Management?

More and more business security practices are going digital. Physical keys are still the backbone of most corporate security plans, and it can be very expensive for companies to switch to electronic access control on a large scale. So an economical and applicable solution will be particularly important.

What is key management?

Key management is the process of protecting, tracking, and distributing keys. Why is this important? Because the key grants access to sensitive locations and assets within the organization, when you increase the security of the key, you can increase the security of these valuable resources.

The key management system also controls the cost of using physical keys. These systems reduce overhead through automation. Due to key loss or security breaches, they reduce and usually eliminate the need to re-encrypt the entire facility.

Some smaller companies may be able to adopt a paper-and-pencil key management protocol. Larger companies, or those who want to better understand and control keys, usually choose to use an electronic key management system.

Why use a key management system?

The key management system can become the cornerstone of your key control process. At the most basic level, key management systems can accomplish two things that paper and pen systems cannot: they store and distribute keys securely, and they increase the efficiency of your organization’s use of keys through automation and analysis.

The key management system also provides other specific benefits, including:

Reduce costs. The key management system ensures that keys are always taken into account. Your employees will not waste hours looking for lost keys, so productivity remains high.

Better risk management. The key management system maintains a transaction log, so you will have a sealed record of who used which keys when. Your employees will take full responsibility for the keys they have.

Improved operation. The key management system can more strictly control how keys are used in your facility. For example, you can prevent employees from checking out keys on specific shifts, set a curfew so that keys must be used and returned at specific times, and allow employees to keep keys for specific periods of time for time-sensitive tasks.

What can you do with the key management system?

Key management should not only improve key security, but also increase the amount of business intelligence that can be generated around key usage. Using an electronic key management system to automate this process can improve your intelligence gathering capabilities far beyond what a human worker can do manually, and provide many other benefits.

Improve access control

By better protecting the keys, you can improve access control to the spaces and devices unlocked by these keys. Better access control is especially important when you need to allow temporary workers to enter these spaces-for example, allowing contracted cleaners to enter high-security facilities.

You can use your key management to simplify the process of providing one-time key access to temporary employees. In addition, the system can record all their key visits after get off work, making everyone more responsible.

Strengthen your risk management practices

The software in a good key management system can generate reports on key usage, user access requests, access exceptions and loss. In addition, you can track and audit key usage in real time. Combined with a comprehensive key control strategy, you will implement better accountability for key use to meet any industry or risk management compliance standards.

Reduce costs and prevent losses

When an employee loses the key, you will incur direct costs, including purchasing a replacement key or relocking it when the owner loses it. However, the indirect cost of key loss is usually more significant. This is because employees first spend time looking for the lost key and then process the replacement request, all of which time is not spent on production work.

The automatic key system reduces the chance of losing the key. You can set a curfew for sensitive keys so that the staff is responsible for returning the keys before a certain time. When a specific key is not returned at the end of the shift or during one of the curfews, you can send a text or email alert to the supervisor. Starting to search for lost keys as soon as possible will significantly increase the chances of recovery.

Improve operations

As we discussed, keys are often used in critical workflows, such as patrols by security officials or maintenance plans for fleet mechanics. The key management system allows you to better control these workflows.

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