If your organization has an Emergency Notification Service (ENS) in place, it’s already taken an important step toward communicating faster and more effectively in critical situations. But, if the solution is not routinely “touched,” or better yet, tested, you could still be at risk in an actual emergency. Consider the following recommendations from One Call Now to create a full and repeatable test cycle, ensuring your alerting readiness.
Set a regular testing schedule and stick with it – It’s important to test your ENS on a regular basis. Test your system frequently with a small group of administrators or other participants. Conduct widespread exercises at regular intervals throughout the year to ensure recipient familiarity with notifications and procedures. As a BC professional, you’ll appreciate the peace of mind that comes from knowing your solution is working and your people know what to do.
Testing isn’t just for users – Allow your entire population, i.e., management, employees, suppliers and other shareholders, to experience an alert prior to an actual event. This way, you will not catch them off guard when and if an emergency notification is needed. They will know to heed the alert and take appropriate action.
Depending on the size of your organization, the frequency and scope of these tests can vary dramatically. Consider conducting them two times each year at a minimum.
Think “worst-case” – Large-scale events require immediate, high-volume alerting. Know your emergency notification service can support communication with your full population through a technical analysis. Be sure to “white-list” ENS IP addresses and domains, and utilize call throttling to avoid overloading your PBX. And, of course, perform at least one full system test per year (an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure).
Stand ready – Have personnel on-site to observe your population during an alert, particularly the full system tests. Review all feedback and make any necessary modifications to predefined notification scenarios, contact data, etc. If you do not currently use a Self-registration Portal through which people can provide and update their emergency contact information, consider its implementation. It will make your job easier and your ENS more effective.
Re-educate people – If you do make changes to your alerting service or testing procedures, it’s important to make everyone aware. Obviously, the more knowledgeable people are of your organization’s critical communications practices and procedures, the better off they (and it) will be during a critical event.
These simple actions will go a long way toward your organization’s development and execution of a full repeatable test cycle of its emergency notification service, and ultimately, its continued resilience.