How to develop an effective key holding policy

The implementation of commercial key cabinets is more than just installing a piece of hardware. From back-end software to change management to system maintenance, there are many moving parts that have to adjust.

Underpinning that is a key holding policy. Without this, your key cabinets may function without purpose, or be misused from the outset. But what does such a policy really consist of?

Step 1: Key assessment

A solution without a clearly identified problem is a hammer without a nail. That’s why the development of a key control policy must begin with an assessment of your current key management systems. Important questions include:

  • What keys does your organisation currently use?
  • Who uses them, and how often?
  • Where are keys issued from and returned to?
  • What problems do staff encounter with your current key management system?
  • How does the current key management system hinder productivity or wellbeing?
What does your business need for an effective key control policy?What does your business need for an effective key control policy?

From questions like this (and often analysis of staff), you will identify core problems you need to address. Focus this on your business operations – for example, a NSW hotel may find its manual key control is increasing costs due to rapid replacement. Likewise, assessment may uncover gross inefficiencies in how people travel between offices or gain access to important equipment due to poor key management.

This is your starting point – the nail for your hammer.

Step 2: Stakeholder engagement

In terms of key control, the solution should be clear – high security commercial key cabinets. With a model like the C.Q.R.I.T Series II, commercial enterprises can automate their sign-in and sign-out process, while gaining comprehensive top-down views of where their keys are at all times.

While it may be a clear-cut solution for you, it is important to have the right stakeholders on board with your policy. Stakeholder mapping, identification and communication are critical here. Be clear about the existing problems, how the new key control policy will address these, and exactly what will change.

Stakeholder engagement is a critical element of policy development.Stakeholder engagement is a critical element of policy development.

Step 3: Developing solutions

As you acquire the hardware and associated key management software, write up or update your process documentation. This should outline how staff use the key cabinets, who has admin access, where and when to escalate problems, as well as key term definitions. Ensure the needs of all key stakeholders are met here.

This is also a good point to put your key control policy out for consultation. A strong key cabinet and management system will improve the workday of all affected staff, so you should be clear about what is changing and why. Include windows for feedback – others may have ideas that are not covered by your policy.

Transparent, regular communication is the most important part of this step. If you need assistance, the experts at CIC Technology can always be on hand for training or general assistance.

Step 4: Implementation

With documentation complete, hardware and software chosen and the support of stakeholders in place, it’s time to implement the key control policy.

Set clear dates for the installation of new hardware, outline processes for returning old keys, and make sure everyone understands when the new process will take place from. You may need to set up and execute regular training sessions, and demonstrate your new commercial key cabinet’s functionality several times.

This repetition is important – process changes can be difficult to adapt to. The more exposure staff have to the new system and policy, the better the change management process.

Step 5: Maintenance

A good system is never static. Your commercial key cabinet and associated control policies should undergo regular reviews, tweaks and even overhauls to ensure everything helps your business meet the goals and solve the issues outlined in step one.

A commercial key cabinet also needs a comprehensive control policy.

This can take the form of regular surveys, holding staff accountable for their keys, reporting on the system to stakeholders and identifying future opportunities for your policy or hardware to take hold.

In the specific case of key control, those accountability measures will be critical. When multiple staff have to use the same set of keys, everyone must uphold their end of the policy. Likewise, you (as the creator / implementer of the policy) need to be accountable to those around you for managing and improving the system.

Key control policy development: A checklist

In short, your steps for implementing a key control policy are:

  • Evaluate existing processes, identify business-focused problems and set goals.
  • Engage relevant stakeholders to bring them on board with your plan.
  • Equip your business with key control hardware, software and full policy documentation.
  • Communicate with and train all relevant staff for effective implementation.
  • Regularly review the quality of your system – is there anywhere it can improve?

Key control policies are still workplace policies, and therefore are underpinned by strong communication and accountability. With the strength and quality of CIC Technology’s commercial key cabinets as part of the plan, you’re off to a flying start.

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