Mass notification can benefit an IT organization in many ways, but it’s dangerous to assume that a notification tool that is used in other areas of a company (business continuity, crisis communications, safety, etc.) will have the features and functionality required to meet the demands of your IT department.
Beyond the standard notification feature set seen in many industry-leading solutions, mass notification solutions for IT must also be able to address a host of specific requirements:
IT skill-based resources. The tool must be able to escalate through specific skills for specific employees.
Multiple shifts with on-call responsibilities that rotate based on schedules. Any mass notification tool you use needs to be able to handle schedules and shifts with intelligence, automatically sending notifications tailored to the shift and current on-call schedule.
IT management oversight with situational awareness. You need to be able to escalate through management layers to create awareness of developing incidents—and ensure individuals take ownership of resolutions.
Monitoring and threshold management of critical components and applications. Your mass notification tool should recognize triggers or thresholds and automatically launch pre-determined notifications to address the developing incidents.
IT service management. The mass notification tools most suited for IT can automatically integrate with ITSM tools, with the ability to receive updates, launch notifications, and then return ITSM information.
Automated workflows for complex operating procedures. Make sure any mass notification tool you’re considering can be configured to interpret information and take actions based on defined criteria, including launching multiple notifications and integrating into other tools within the IT environment.
Integration to enterprise applications. Finally, you’ll need a strong API for mass notification solutions, as well as a runbook automation tool for building custom logic.
There are many products in today’s market that can help address these and other mass notification requirements. Each comes with a variety of options, ranging from those that can be installed/licensed in your environment to cloud-based and SAAS-hosted solutions. In some cases a hybrid solution, combining installed and cloud or SAAS services, might be the best answer for your specific needs, especially if you need to minimize the risk of dependency on your own IT environment for the delivery of critical systems in an emergency.
You’ve likely already considered a mass notification solution that addresses the specific needs of the your IT department while still providing the flexibility to work in other departments as well. It’s reasonable, therefore, to ask for the opposite as well—that any solution the organization is already using be robust enough to serve your IT needs.