Don’t settle for a mass notification vendor based on price only to find out the system actually isn’t the right fit for your organization. In order to determine which vendor is right for you, you must first understand what you need. This is why it is important to do a needs assessment prior to talking to the various vendors. Questions to ask internally include:
- What is the audience size you need to communicate with?
- What platforms do you need to communicate on?
- What threats and hazards should you be preparing for?
- What will the organization look like in the future?
- What current internal systems will need to be integrated into the mass notification system?
- What are the technical abilities of the system administrators?
- How much employee training will be needed?
Once you have completed a thorough needs assessment, you are ready to start searching for the right vendor.
Comparing Mass Notification Vendors
Selecting a service to use for your mass notification campaign can be overwhelming – we get it, there are tons of options. When starting your search it is important to look beyond the price point. The last thing you want is to wind up with a cheap mass notification system that doesn’t meet your actual needs.
There are many also mass notification products that seem flashy, but also require an extensive training and certification process in order to use. We reject this notion, and encourage organizations to look past all the unnecessary bells & whistles and focus on what is actually important. Here are our recommendations on what is actually important in your selection:
Simplicity. You may only use a mass notification system once – you shouldn’t have to be “certified”; rather, the system should be intuitive and easy to use. In an emergency, the last thing you need is a complex set of options to consider when launching a mass notification. If the vendor has a “university” where you can learn on to operate the product, run the other way. What if your “certified” staff are not available to manage a notification? Keep it simple.
Usage-Based vs. Number of Contacts: Many mass notification companies charge you for the number of contacts stored in their system. You’re paying whether you use the system or not. Look for low fixed costs and charges based on a per-call or per-message usage model. If you don’t use the system, you won’t feel guilty about having paid all this money for nothing.
Scalability: It goes without saying that a mass notification system shouldn’t be throttled by its own capacity limits. You need an elastic platform that gets the message out as soon as possible.
Customization: Do you all the sudden have a need to use WhatsApp to generate an alert? Make sure you vendor is willing to customize and integrate your mass notification solution into whatever communications modality you need. You shouldn’t have to limit yourself to phone, SMS or email. Another customization that is a must is the ability of the mass notification system to pull contact data directly from the customer’s back-end data sources so they don’t have to keep uploading lists. This also applies to the after-notification reports – your system should be able to inject the call reporting data into a back-end system, allowing you to keep using your current reporting applications.
Privacy and Security: In today’s digital world, security is of the utmost importance. Make sure you’re dealing with a US company that is encrypting your data at rest and in motion.
At the end of the day, it is important to work with a mass notification vendor you can trust. Your mass notification service team should be a partner, making the entire process flow smoothly.