19 questions to help you choose the right vendor of cards as a service

Outsourcing the production of access cards, photo ID badges, smart cards and key fobs has many benefits. But not all solutions for ready-to-use credentials as a service are created equal. Make sure to get satisfying answers to these 19 questions to choose the right vendor.

1. Is the onboarding process smooth?

There are a lot of different types of card technologies, access control systems, and visual security elements on cards, which make it difficult to understand what types of cards and configurations a customer needs. With some vendors, it is difficult and time consuming to get started with cards and key fobs as a service.

2. Does the vendor have the resources to give you exactly what you need?

Not all vendors can manage all types of advanced encodings and technology combinations.

3. How is the design of the cards managed?

Make sure that you get to design and layout your cards as you wish, and that the vendor offers help from a professional art director.

4. Does the vendor use high-quality materials?

Make sure the vendor picks only high-quality manufacturers, that only original MIFARE RFID chips are used, that the plastics in the cards can handle wear and tear, and that the frequency in the antennas of the RFID cards is optimized.

5. Does the vendor offer multifunctional smart cards?

There are many benefits to multifunctional smart cards; that is, cards that can be used for a wide variety of applications, such as opening doors and cabinets, visual identification, computer login, access to cloud services, payments in the cafeteria and follow-me printing.

6. Does the vendor offer visual security elements?

Adding visual security elements – such as UV prints, micro texts and holograms – make cards much harder to forge.

Read blog post 8 benefits to buying ready-to-use cards as a service

7. Can you get the latest within RFID technology?

RFID stands for Radio-Frequency IDentification, and is the state-of-the-art technology for contactless cards and key fobs. The RFID technology is developing at a rapid speed – make sure that your vendor keeps up and offers you the latest, best and most secure RFID chips. Right now, as of May 2017, MIFARE DESFire EV1 and MIFARE DESFire EV2 are the best architecture platforms for cards.

8. Is it possible to brand card holders and lanyards?

There is a wide range of different card holders on the market, suited for different people’s needs and preferences. The vendor may offer you several different card holders and lanyards, as well as the possibility to brand them with your organization’s logotype. It can save you a lot of time, money and effort if you can easily order ready-to-use branded card holders at the same time as you order cards and key fobs.

9. Can you place an order online, from any device, anytime and anywhere?

Believe it or not, some vendors do not have online ordering portals – they only offer orders via email and telephone.

Read blog post 24 reasons for ordering cards as a service from Nexus

10. Is the ordering portal easy to use?

Preferably, the vendor should offer a personalized online catalog with pre-configured cards, that people in your organization can easily order with a few clicks.

11. Is it possible to integrate the ordering portal?

For super-smooth card orders, you will want to have the option to integrate the card ordering portal in with application such as your intranet or your identity and access management (IAM) software.

12. Can the vendor handle large volumes of cards and key fobs?

This is necessary if you need to rebadge.

13. Can the vendor guarantee continuous high quality without human error?

Make sure that the vendor has a process that is highly digitalized and very skilled personnel handling the manual parts.

14. Is there a priority delivery option?

Sometimes you will need a new card or key fob on short notice.

15. Is there an overview of your previous orders in the online ordering portal?

This makes your administration and card management easier. Preferably, there should also be a function requiring a responsible person in your organization to approve orders before they are processed.

16. Can you easily get personal support if needed?

Even if the vendor offers a great online ordering portal, sooner or later you will run into issues that need to be sorted out by a skilled professional.

17. Does your vendor offer IAM software?

It is a big plus if your cards as a service vendor also offers identity and access management (IAM) software. A centralized IAM software lets you enforce uniform policies in the management of identities, credential data and physical access entitlements. You also get centralized and correct information on who is in possession of which physical or digital access credentials and entitlements at any given time.

18. Does your vendor offer interoperable authentication software?

If you want to use the cards for windows login, digital signatures or single sign-on to your digital resources, it is beneficial to select a vendor that can provide interoperable authentication software.

19. Is the price competitive?

Make sure that you get good value for your money, and that the solution has a proven business case.

Read our guide How to choose the right access card and key fob acquisition method