How to Develop an Effective and Timely Notification Process

 
 
By Andrew Garcia  |  Posted 2008-11-07 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

As there are many notification solutions available, there are several things to think about when selecting a provider, weeding out companies that may be acceptable for notifications for regular work practices or noncritical emergencies from those that can deliver in time of crisis.

In times of emergency, timely information delivery is a critical element that can minimize the effects of unplanned outages on a business. During times of distress, executives need to know what works and what is under threat to make key business decisions that could affect the long-term health of the company.
Disaster response teams need to be notified to activate carefully preplanned recovery and continuity strategies, and rank-and-file employees need to be kept in the loop so they know what responsibilities they have-to keep morale up and let them know where they need to go and what they need to do. Likewise, company officials need to know what they can expect from their employees.
 
A company that puts out significant effort to create a resilient disaster recovery plan may find that unreliable channels will be called upon as the lines of communication when disaster strikes. Many companies find themselves relying on a phone tree: The CEO has to notify the board of directors, the board authorizes the disaster team into action, and each member of the disaster team calls a portion of the employee base to let them know what's going on and what is expected of them. And so on.

The problem with phone trees is that they can quickly fall apart and may not deliver pertinent information fast enough. If someone in an early tier can't be reached or can't reach out to others, those below on the tree fall by the wayside without instructions, news or duties unless someone else fills the breach.
   
Within the last few years, businesses with robust business continuity plans have turned to mass notification systems-like those provided by 3N or MIR3-to more efficiently foster communications under emergent conditions. These automated systems leverage multiple modes of communication, allowing the organization to reach out in many ways to employees to inform, instruct and collect data.

Ideally, these services will integrate with other disaster recovery solutions already in place, allowing the company to trigger predefined notifications using the same tools used to spin up off-site computing resources or other recovery solutions.

Read about business continuity best practices here.

The adoption of emergency notification services should not be considered a luxury or a potential cost-savings cut in a turbulent economy. Instead, emergency notifications should be budgeted as a requirement of a business continuity management plan-mapped out in a way that can minimize costs while ensuring it will meet the company's need in time of emergency.

As there are many notification solutions available, there are several things to think about when selecting a provider, weeding out companies that may be acceptable for notifications for regular work practices or noncritical emergencies from those that can deliver in time of crisis.



 
 
 
 
Andrew cut his teeth as a systems administrator at the University of California, learning the ins and outs of server migration, Windows desktop management, Unix and Novell administration. After a tour of duty as a team leader for PC Magazine's Labs, Andrew turned to system integration - providing network, server, and desktop consulting services for small businesses throughout the Bay Area. With eWEEK Labs since 2003, Andrew concentrates on wireless networking technologies while moonlighting with Microsoft Windows, mobile devices and management, and unified communications. He produces product reviews, technology analysis and opinion pieces for eWEEK.com, eWEEK magazine, and the Labs' Release Notes blog. Follow Andrew on Twitter at andrewrgarcia, or reach him by email at agarcia@eweek.com.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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