In practical terms, a mass notification system is a rapid-response system designed for internal communication to broadcast notifications to pre-subscribed individuals, mostly employees, thus keeping them informed before, during or after a specific event.
Often, people associate these communication systems with emergency notifications, but they are not limited to that. They can be adapted to notify your employees about anything that you believe is important for them to know. It could be anything from maintenance notification to servers being down to an active shooter to inclement weather, you name it. But in times of crisis and disasters, these systems are extremely helpful in coordinating with your staff members during relief and rescue operations.
Mass notification systems have become a necessary tool in the toolbox of professionals, the business community and campus safety teams. More and more organizations of all sizes continue to utilize this mode of communication. According to Future Market Insights, the global market for these systems is expected to steadily increase from $4.23 billion in 2017 to more than $11 billion by 2027. These statistics speak volumes; undoubtedly you too need to be future-proof. So are you one of the many who’s contemplating jumping on the bandwagon?
Make Adequate Preparations Before Implementing Mass Notification Systems
Long before you implement a mass notification system, you need to prepare for it. Preparation is key to its successful implementation. Just how do you get prepared? The following are some tips to assist you to get prepared:
Ensure you have everyone on-board and especially top-level approval. Be determined to get everyone involved to see the importance of having this communication system.
Confirm that your organization has proper systems and infrastructure to handle such a system.
Understand the policies, practices, and procedures that govern the operation of these systems.
After adequately preparing, you are now ready to implement the emergency notification system. How do you go about it? Check out these seven steps for a smooth and impeccable implementation.
1. Choose and connect with your preferred vendor
Establish the vendor that you will work with and get to know the vendor’s Customer Success Manager. Connect well with that person as you will work closely with them to ensure that your account is set up based on your organization’s needs and requirements. This person will guide you throughout the entire setup and testing process. Depending on how your organization plans to deploy the mass notification system, your Success Manager will assist you to create a rollout plan.
2. Identify, select and train your administrators
It is said, “A tool is only as good as its user!” And how true that is when it comes to implementation of a mass notification system. It will only be as effective as the team you put behind it. Therefore, carefully select the administrators who will be accessing the system to send notifications and manage the incoming messages. Because these systems are flexible and adaptable, administrators can be assigned different levels of access bearing in mind your organization’s size and needs. For instance, you could assign specific communication responsibilities to certain administrators by indicating if they have access only to a particular set of personnel, groups or locations.
Additionally, they need to be properly trained on how to run the system efficiently and productively. And remember that this training will be an ongoing process especially as new technologies and methods emerge.
3. Build your contacts database & create groups
The first importation of recipients’ contacts will be handled by your vendor as they guide you into the implementation phase. Likely, your vendor will inquire if you have an existing contacts database so that it can be synchronized with the newly acquired system. At the same time, they will assist you to customize a registration process that you will use in future to add new recipients into the system. The good news is that its interfaces are easy-to-use and you should not have any problem adding, removing and updating your contact list.
Further, you will be assisted on how to organize your contacts into groups to makes it easy to reach the right audience, at the right time and with the appropriate message. Creating groups is the basis of a successful implementation of the system. Groups can be defined by such parameters as department, position, or location, and when properly created they will allow you to send targeted notifications for the best outcome.
4. Learn how to send notifications on the different channels at your disposal
Sending out notifications is the fundamental reason why you sought to acquire the emergency notification system. Thus you need to find out how to send notifications immediately upon purchasing the system (lest an emergency arises tomorrow).
Your vendor will guide you on how to do this; it is no more than three simple steps so that in the event of an emergency or other pressing necessity, you can quickly get your messages out there in a matter of seconds. Sending out several testing notifications to few select recipients on the different channels available (SMS, email, voice calls, social media or intranet) will especially be helpful to your administrators in familiarizing themselves with the system.
5. Create notification template messages
Notification templates will allow you to send alerts faster and this is especially helpful in saving valuable time when it matters most. How can you go about creating these templates?
First, you need to evaluate and establish the most anticipated emergency events or any other alerts that may be crucial in your organization, office location, and geographical location. Then, create message templates that could be appropriate for all those situations.
Remember also to establish who would be your target audience in each of those premeditated events. This will enable you to send real-time alerts quickly and efficiently.
6. Send out an introductory message to all your recipients on your database
Now you need to get the ball rolling and start sending out those alerts to your target audiences. The first message will be for information: let your recipients know they are enrolled into a communication system and will be receiving emergency notifications through it. Bearing in mind that it’s a multi-channel system, this would be an opportune time to inform each of your recipients that they can customize the channel which they prefer to receive alerts.
Moreover, you will do well to familiarize your people with their user profiles and provide guidance on how to use it. Keep in mind that each user enrolled in the system has their secure login account where they can update their contact information, and manage their preferences, such as how they want to receive notifications.
7. Subscribe to reliable news and alerts sources
Besides sending messages of any internal notifications, mass notification systems will be handy in sending recipients alerts of external hazards that could affect them directly or indirectly. To be successful in doing this means that your team must, in the first place, be in the know of such potential dangers so that they can readily convey them via the communication system.
Logically, this system is of no valid use if incidences are not conveyed to recipients in real-time. So your administrators need to sign up for news alerts from different sources so that they can be up-to-date with current happenings within their locations. Ensure they have access to events-monitoring sources that will alert them of any potential threats that could have an impact on your organization.
You definitely wouldn’t want to send out messages through your notification system only to realize that the alerts were a hoax. Hence make sure your news sources are reliable and legit. This will go a long way to uphold your recipients’ confidence on its dependability.
Reap the Benefits of Implementing A Mass Notification System
It’s a common saying that nothing remains constant except change itself. True to that adage, not only does technology constantly and consistently change, but so do people’s communication preferences. A mass notification system uses the modern and latest communication technologies to send out alerts when it is necessary. The preceding steps clearly indicate that you have no reason to be intimidated with its implementation.
The benefits of implementing such a system speak for themselves. With such robust features as one-touch calling for key personnel, easily customizable notification groups, messaging that sends receipt validation, limited or no installation requirements, easy-to-use web-based interface, highly-efficient customer care and many more, the people who matter to you will be notified when it matters. It is both cost-effective and easy to implement a notification system based on your business needs.