8 Questions to Ask Before Purchasing a Mass Notification System

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Mass Notification Purchasing Questions

When looking for a mass notification solution, many organizations struggle with where to begin. This can make the purchasing process more frustrating and time-consuming than it needs to be. With the proper preparations, you can find the right solution to enhance safety and communication in your organization. To help with this, we’ve compiled eight questions you should answer before purchasing a mass notification system.

1. What Problem Are You Trying to Solve?

This is an important place to start because without this answer you can’t know what to look for in a mass notification tool. You may have been told this is simply something your organization “needs” without getting more details as to why it is needed. Taking that extra step to gather more details will give you a better sense of what tools will be the right fit for your organization. It may be that you need to fulfill a certain legal requirement, or that you don’t have a way to reach all of your people in the event of an emergency. Once you begin to understand these factors you can look more closely at the features that will help those problems.

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2. What Situations Do You Need to Prepare For?

In addition to understanding the problems you are trying to solve, you also want to think ahead to the problems your organization may need to solve. For example, you may be looking at mass notification to help send alerts about severe weather, but do you have the means to alert people about an active shooter situation? Medical emergency? Chemical spill?

A mass notification system should not be a single-use solution, it should be the backbone of your entire communications plan. To get the most out of your investment, you need a flexible tool that will help address any emergency situation you may encounter and can be used for non-emergency scenarios as well.

3. What Are You Currently Using for Mass Notification?

Every organization has tools and processes they use to communicate. Even if they don’t fit into the typical definition of mass notification, your organization has ways to reach people. Conducting an audit of the tools and processes you already have in place can help you select the correct mass notification solution. You will understand if you have too many disparate devices and systems and if you should be looking for a solution that will tie them together and improve your processes to speed up how quickly you can spread the word. This can also help your organization save money in the long run by investing in a system that integrates with existing equipment, instead of investing in new equipment to achieve compatibility.

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4. Who Needs to Be Involved?

To help identify the problems you are trying to solve and the technology you already have in place may require you to expand the number of people involved in the decision-making process. Safety is everyone’s concern, so determining the right solution should not fall on one person or department. It takes collaboration among upper-level management and administrators, security personnel, facilities managers, IT and HR to fully comprehend what is needed to improve communication and safety within an organization. With this information, you can develop a more comprehensive list of needs.

Read more on why multiple departments need to be involved

5. What Do You Need?

That list can include any number of items, but here are a few pertinent ones. Do you want to leverage existing communication channels to deliver the message, like IP phones, IP speakers, mobile devices, desktop computers, and digital signage? Do you need to be able to reach people on-premises and when they are mobile? Do you need to use audio and text messages and well as visual elements to ensure everyone sees and hears critical safety information? Do you need to be able to reach everyone with the push of a button? Do you need to be able to customize your messages? Do you need to automatically launch conference calls and other collaboration channels to manage your response to a situation? This is just a general overview of what organizations should consider for their mass notification needs. Every organization is different, so take time answering this question to cover all of your bases.

6. Who Will Operate the System?

Once the purchase has been made, you need to determine who will be responsible for running the system. This can sometimes be challenging as different groups may want different levels of involvement. One team may need to be in charge of day-to-day maintenance, while another is in responsible for actually triggering messages. You’ll need people who can step up and educate the rest of your organization that a new system is in place and explain how it works. You’ll also need to put people in charge of testing the system to ensure it is working as intended.

There may be other areas of responsibility you want to consider, but it’s important you answer these questions upfront to help get the most out of your implantation. You don’t just want to check a box that says you have a mass notification system. You want people using it regularly so your organization can realize the full benefits of a complete implementation.

7. How Will You Pay for It?

How to pay for a mass notification solution is often the biggest challenge for organizations. They know they need a solution, but don’t know where the money will come from. Further complicating this part of the process is the fact that many mass notification vendors do not make pricing information readily available on their websites, meaning you may get pretty far in your decision-making process before you get a full idea of how much it will cost. If it’s too expensive, you’ve now wasted valuable time and energy researching a tool that will not be viable in your organization.

You can overcome this challenge in a number of ways. One is to be forward-thinking. A mass notification system may seem like a big investment at face value but consider what kind of costs your organization could incur if someone is harmed because you did not have the right tool in place to alert them about an emergency. The second is to find a tool that can integrate with existing technology, which can help you get better ROI on your investments in other equipment. Finally, by bringing in people from multiple departments, you may have the opportunity to draw on multiple budgets to purchase your system. This alleviates the burden of placing the entire investment on one department’s budget and helps other departments have more of a stake in the implementation’s success.

Discover more cost-saving tips

8. Who Can You Learn From?

Chances are, all of the previous questions have already been answered by someone else. When working with a vendor ask, if they have similar organizations already using the tool you are considering for the use cases you need it for. Consult with other members of your team as they may belong to groups or have connections at other organizations that can recommend solutions and implementation best practices. You can learn for the mistakes and successes of others to minimize headaches during your own decision-making process. This will help better inform your purchasing decision and prepare you for a successful implementation.

Now that you know what to consider before selecting a mass notification tool, read our blog post on the 12 Questions to Ask During Your Mass Notification Demo to help ensure you find the perfect solution for your organization.

 

 

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