As security concerns grow and the ability to easily reach people has become more challenging, organizations have been turning to mass notification software to get information out at the onset of an emergency. However, the marketplace for these solutions is vast, and tools continue to evolve to meet user demands and reflect real-world circumstances. To help find the right solution, here are four do’s and three don’ts to keep in mind when selecting mass notification software.
Look at Multiple Solutions
Many vendors will claim they have a mass notification solution, but not all tools are created equal. Some only send SMS text messages and push notifications. Some have limited ability to integrate with other technology. Some include incident management capabilities while others require organizations to make an additional investment in a separate solution. Researching different solutions will make it easy to spot differences to help make the right choice.
Bring in Other Departments
Too often, the responsibility of selecting mass notification software will fall on one person or department. The problem is that different departments may have different goals they are trying to achieve and needs they are working to address. The IT team may have different requirements than the security team, who may have different ideas for what the best solution would be than HR or the facilities team. Bringing different groups together will help identify what everyone wants to accomplish by implementing mass notification software, the different use cases it will be deployed for, and potential issues that may arise before any decisions have been made.
When choices have been narrowed down, solutions may begin to look similar, so it’s important to ask vendors questions to determine what sets them apart. If a vendor says their solutions has a certain feature or can perform a certain task, ask to see it demonstrated. If there are questions about whether the software can connect to other technology, ask if there is a way to make it work together. The more questions posed to the vendor the more confident an organization can be in their selection.
Think About More Than Emergencies
Mass notification software is often seen as a solution for emergency communication, and while this is a primary use case for most tools, those that can handle non-emergency tasks can offer more value. Whether it is a school looking to schedule its bells, a hospital trying to automate announcements for visitor hours, or an office letting employees know a company-wide meeting has started, being able use mass notification software outside of emergencies will help keep people familiar with how to use it and incorporate it into an organization’s daily operations.
Rely on Patchwork Solutions
Organizations can sometimes fall into the trap of checking a box when it comes to selecting a software solution. When the time comes to implement it though, they may discover they are missing critical components which require additional investments, but mass notification software should bring disparate technology together, not create more silos to manage. Solutions that do more may seem expense up front but can provide long-term value by doing more work with a single tool rather than multiple ones.
Invest in Additional New Technology
For some organizations, the need for mass notification software may be urgent. This may lead to selecting a solution that fulfills all the requirements but is incompatible with much of the technology that is already in place in an organization. This can result costly equipment replacements and delay implementation. Being able to leverage existing tools like desk phones, paging systems, desktop computers, digital signage and more with simple integrations helps organizations get more value out of existing technology investments and allows them to get up and running sooner.
Overlook the Value of Reaching Everyone
The most valuable component of mass notification is having a tool that gives an organization the ability to reach all their people with consistent messaging when it matters most. Select software that gives the option to use text and audio delivered to a wide range of on-site and mobile devices. This gives organizations the best opportunity to interrupt ongoing activities and get information to their people no matter where they are or what they are doing.
By following these guidelines, organizations should be able to set themselves up on the right path to select mass notification software that meets their needs and helps keep their people safe and informed during a crisis.