GB_Daryn Flynn
Daryn Flynn
Business Development

What’s the benefit of installing a lock on a door if you don’t give people a key and tell them how and when to use it? In the same way, simply installing a physical access control system isn’t enough to provide the levels of security you need. Effective system governance is essential for establishing and enforcing access control policies and procedures, mitigating security risks, maintaining regulatory compliance, and streamlining operations.

This is even more crucial in today’s complex security landscape where physical access control is rarely a standalone solution. Typically, it’s integrated with other applications, such as systems for video monitoring, visitor management, physical security information management (PSIM), and more. Which makes clarity on system ownership and governance ever more important.

In this article, we look at what effective governance means when it comes to access management for physical access control. And the wide variety of security, commercial, and operational benefits it brings.


What do we mean by system governance?

When we talk about the governance of a physical access control system, it covers the following two areas: Design and Management

  1. Design: The design of your physical access control system is critical in ensuring it provides the functionality you need. But effective governance isn’t just about optimising the initial design of your system and its deployment across your sites. It’s also about controlling how it evolves in terms of expanding and adjusting it, integrating other technologies, and so on. If a system isn’t governed carefully, its design can drift into inconsistency and complexity, which makes it more difficult to use and support and less effective. Complexity is one of the key drivers for obsolescence when it comes to physical access control systems.
  2. Management: The operational side of a physical access control system is an aspect that’s often overlooked, but it must be carefully governed. You must be clear on how you’re going to use and manage your system and who’s responsible for what. As part of this, you need to map out, create, and implement the policies you need to put in place and work out how you’ll uphold them and keep them updated.


Why is governance a critical aspect of physical access control?

Let’s look more closely at some of the key advantages that make strong governance essential.

We’ve narrowed the top five benefits for you:

  1. Enhanced security: A system designed according to carefully considered parameters, well-monitored, and managed in a structured way, following clear policies, is much more secure than one that’s built and used haphazardly. The regular audits and risk assessments that are part of good governance also help to identify vulnerabilities that can be addressed promptly.
  2. Operational efficiency: Good governance can streamline your organisation’s operations by automating access management processes. With well-defined policies and procedures, you can reduce administrative overheads and the errors associated with manual access control processes. You can also create efficiencies (and improve safety, security, and user experience) by integrating other systems and technologies with access control. And good governance plays a key role in getting this right.
  3. Compliance and liability management: Strict regulations relating to physical security are in place across many industries today. Failure to adhere to them can result in severe penalties and even affect your business continuity. Particularly if a security breach occurs due to negligence or non-compliance. System governance provides a very necessary framework for maintaining compliance and reporting on your security measures. By helping you ensure compliance and demonstrate due diligence, it reduces the potential for legal liability.
  4. Threat mitigation: Governance is a proactive approach that involves ongoing risk assessment and monitoring – so it helps you identify and mitigate threats before they become critical security incidents. Which increases your organisation’s overall resilience.
  5. Improved accountability: System governance establishes clear lines of responsibility and accountability for physical access control. It ensures that the right people are held responsible for every aspect – from creating and updating policies to managing access permissions and responding to security incidents.


What does good governance look like?

Now that we know the benefits of governance for physical access control, what does it look like in reality?

Here are some of the best practices to follow:


  1. Policy development and documentation: Clear access control policies and procedures are the foundation of good governance. These should define who’s authorised to access specific areas, the conditions under which access is granted or denied, and the consequences of policy violations. So that they’re easy to uphold, policies and procedures must be documented clearly and made accessible to the people who need to follow and enforce them.
  2. Risk assessment and auditing: Risk assessment is essential when designing your system and creating access control policies, but it doesn’t stop there – risk assessments and audits should be carried out regularly. This will enable you to identify vulnerabilities and potential threats to your physical access control system. Then, where needed, you can adjust your system, integrate new technologies, and update your access control policies and measures. As physical access control systems last for years, regular reviews and auditing also help ensure your system still provides what you need, and its configuration is optimised.
  3. Authorisation management: Another key element of governance is managing access authorisations. This involves creating, modifying, and revoking access rights, as needed. Using automated tools to manage access authorisations increases both efficiency and accuracy – which, ultimately, improves security. And regular audits will help to ensure each person’s access permissions align with their roles and responsibilities.
  4. Compliance monitoring: To comply with today’s strict legislation, your systems and processes must adhere to the regulations for physical security in your specific industry, as well as cross-industry and local regulations. These may include GDPR and HIPAA, for example. Ensuring compliance is then a matter of ongoing monitoring, with adjustments where needed.
  5. Incident response: A good governance framework includes plans for responding to security incidents and breaches. You must have a comprehensive incident response plan in place and easily accessible. This should include procedures for handling, investigating, and reporting on any incidents, so they can be dealt with promptly and effectively – and mitigated in the future.
  6. Training and awareness: Training and awareness programs are essential components of effective governance. If you expect people to adhere to access control policies, security best practices, and protocols, they must be educated on them and understand their importance.
  7. Data management: Many of the best practices above – from authorisation management to compliance reporting – rely on using the data generated by your access control system and other systems. First, you’ll need to identify what data you need and the systems involved. Then, you can use your governance framework to help design or reconfigure, and manage your system(s) to ensure you collate and use this data to optimum effect. And, of course, follow all the legislation relating to data processing.

Speaking of data, we’ve got you covered when it comes to knowledge on data-driven physical access control:


Enable people to work with confidence

Using these best practices to establish a comprehensive governance framework for physical access control, will help you increase security, safety, efficiency, and accountability, and reduce liability. But, more than that, it will give people such as security managers and receptionists confidence in their roles. They know everything’s been thought about, policies and procedures are in place and many tasks are automated. With clear rules and guidance to follow, they’re free to focus on supporting employees and visitors.

But it’s important to know when to call on trusted experts with extensive experience in implementations. We happen to have some of these experts at Nedap Security Management:

We welcome you to learn more about our Enterprise Professional Services where governance is a key step for successful deployment


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