Making a big tech purchase can be challenging. Sometimes it’s hard to know the answers to all the questions you may have. Even if you have those answers, what you thought you were buying and what you end up with aren’t always the same thing.
With an emergency notification system, it is particularly important to be confident in your purchase. You want to know that messages are reaching as many people as possible. Since safety in such a high priority for many organizations, we’ve put together a list of the top three mistakes to avoid when evaluating and purchasing an emergency mass notification system (EMNS).
NOT REQUIRING A THOROUGH DEMONSTRATION
It can seem like all the information you need about a product is available on a vendor’s website. However, a thorough demonstration can add a better level of understanding to what a product is capable of doing. If the vendor says, “it can do that”, then ask them to show it.
This is especially true when reviewing on-premises notification functionality. This is because most EMNS vendors are built around a cloud-based delivery model, or notification-as-a-service. For most of them, it’s not standard functionality to reach communication devices inside your network, such as desk phones, computer desktops, overhead paging systems and digital signage. They may be able to do it through a third party integration, but it’s not something they do natively, so demonstrating this isn’t easy. Ask to see it. You’ll be glad you did and you’ll separate the contenders from the pretenders.
PURCHASING BECAUSE OTHER GROUPS USE IT FOR BULK SMS TEXT MESSAGING
You may know of an emergency notification product used by a nearby local government entity and think, since it works well for them, it will work well for your organization. Notifying citizens of a city or county is a worthwhile and necessary service, but these types of systems are often centered around bulk SMS text messaging. Comparing these public notification systems to mass notification solutions for a business, school or hospital is really comparing apples and oranges. Why? Because any system used by a business, school or hospital should really be doing so much more than bulk SMS text messaging. You want to reach as close to 100 percent of your people in one minute or less, and with bulk SMS text messaging, that simply isn’t possible.
NOT UNDERSTANDING WHAT’S INCLUDED AND WHAT’S EXTRA
The distinction between what a system does and what it can do isn’t always clear. This is another instance of when an EMNS vendor says, “we can do that,” you need to make them back up what they are saying. They may not be lying in the strictest sense of the word, but they’re not being exactly forthright. They may be able to make this functionality happen with a statement of work for professional services and/or custom software development, but this is really something you need to know up front, before signing a service agreement. Getting this clarified can be the difference between making your budget or going over.
KNOW THE FACTS, MAKE THE CALL
As with any big decision, gathering the facts is one of the most important steps you can take. Learning everything you need and understanding what a system can do upfront can save time, money and headaches in the long run, and save you from being stuck with a tool that doesn’t do what it claims. Avoid the mistakes above and your organization can feel confident knowing they’ve made the right choice in emergency notification software.