A new year brings new resolutions—commitments to achieve certain goals or make specific improvements. While it’s certainly a good time for pledging to lose those few extra pounds, it’s also a great time to make resolutions for improving your business continuity communications. Maybe your mass notification program could use an improved diet and more exercise in 2016?
A successful notification program starts with “feeding” the service with the right data. Accurate, up-to-date contact information is essential for effective enterprise alerting. Consider these tips for improving your notification system’s data diet:
Integrate your notification service with your human resources database. A company’s HR database often contains the most current contact information for an employee. By using built-in integration capabilities, a sophisticated emergency notification service can access this data automatically, eliminating the need to manage multiple data sets.
Utilize self-update features. Your notification service may offer the ability to create a simple employee web portal for updating their contact information. Providing employees with a reminder and a link to this portal regularly throughout the year can dramatically improve data quality.
Tell employees why it’s important. With today’s privacy and work-balance issues, companies generally can’t require employees to provide personal contact information. It’s up to the company to communicate why providing this private information could be advantageous to them. Make clear policies on how personal data might be used, then share the benefits to increase worker participation.
Notification services should be exercised regularly to ensure users are comfortable managing the system and alert recipients understand proper actions to take when receiving an alert.
Heavy-weight versus light-weight. Exercises should be conducted in conjunction with large-scale business continuity plan tests, but due to the infrequency of these events, managers should also develop more “light-weight” exercise plans. Small-scale notification exercises can be implemented daily and aimed at a handful of administrators (this can be automated with scheduled alerts), while large notification exercises should be conducted at least twice per year.
Audit your emergency communications program. After each exercise, be sure to analyze the results of your notification efforts. Identify and build on patterns of success, and close any gaps in communications. Communicate the results and follow-up steps to all appropriate stakeholders.
Here’s to keeping your personal New Year’s resolutions beyond Ground Hog Day. And, here’s to making a few resolutions around improving your crisis communications. Practicing a bit of discipline now could make for a better, less dramatic year ahead.