What stops you investing in resilient communications?
There are so many myths around implementing communication plans! We’ve been working in this sector for over 20 years – back in the day, if you needed to communicate with a large group of people, you’d have a manual call tree and you’d tell your team “You ring 10, you ring 10, you ring 10”. It would take forever, you had to make multiple repeat calls because people didn’t answer, and you had no reporting.
Then, we moved on to automated calls, installing boxes and lines to ring people instead. It was faster, but still very limited, and not the cheapest solution. We even had a special formula for working out how many phone lines you needed to rent so that you could call your staff in under an hour…
Now, technology has moved on again. We can place thousands of simultaneous SMS texts, voice calls and emails at the click of a mouse. Data tends to be stored in the cloud rather than on premise, and you can access your communication services from any internet enabled device.
But, we still see people running into roadblocks internally and finding it difficult to get a resilient communication plan implemented. Technology has moved on, but in some cases, the mindset hasn’t. Let’s take a look at the top 3 barriers we still hear about:
Budget and cost restraints
The first thing we’d say here is how much does it cost you not to communicate? And not just in financial terms. What is the cost of someone being injured when you could have prevented it? The second thing we’d say is not every organisation needs the fanciest piece of kit going.
We work with companies who are just beginning to think about a crisis communications plan. All they really want is an easy reliable way for staff to get updates or collect critical information. That doesn’t have to be outbound communication – what about an inbound information hotline that you can update via an SMS text, a voice call or via a web dashboard?
Resilient communication doesn’t have to be complicated and expensive. It can be simple, straightforward and cost effective. With all the inter connectivity and reliance that we’ve talked about, what could be simpler than giving staff a dedicated phone number that they can ring 24/7/36 to hear the latest update? It’s not perfect, but it’s a million times better than having nothing at all.
Ongoing resource requirements
Once you get into the realms of thinking that maybe an automated communication service is the right solution for you, then we start hearing concerns about resources. How much work is it going to be to keep it up to date? Do I need to spend hours going to a dedicated online “university” to learn how this system works? Will I then need to spend more hours every month keeping the service ticking over?
Ongoing resource requirements … this can be a real showstopper for some companies. It’s an unknown and unquantifiable thing, and that really doesn’t work when you are trying to sell the idea internally. The key here is breaking it down and asking questions. First, work out what your “must have” requirements are. They’re usually simpler than you think. Don’t fall for the sales person’s patter (and we can say that!) – you can add extra functions and modules later, when your own processes are more mature or when your needs have changed. You don’t usually need every bell and whistle from day one.
We’re a mass communications company, and even we would tell you to keep it simple. If you think that you’re going to need an ongoing dedicated resource to look after your system, then you haven’t chosen the right system for you.
Buy in - what does this give me personally?
And finally – people who don’t see the value of what you’re proposing. “What do resilient communications do for me personally?”. This goes back to box ticking. Procurement teams sometimes focus on cost rather than value; yes, you’re paying an annual subscription fee. But you’re also saving x, y and z by not having to manually call people to tell them you’ve closed the office. If you stop and think about it, a resilient communication service will bring benefits for everyone. You might just have to frame the information in a different way.
Some of the benefits are intangible. To give you an example, the customers who get the most benefit from Alert Cascade are those who really think about what resilience means to them as an organisation – it isn’t always the traditional business continuity use case.
Our customers deployed Alert Cascade multiple times during the tragic events of the Manchester arena bombing. Checking that staff are safe, letting people know about travel disruptions etc are unfortunately all standard use cases for a service like ours. But some customers went further. They used our service heavily in the aftermath to remind staff about welfare services and employee helplines that were available for people who were struggling. They sent messages reminding colleagues in other locations that staff based in Manchester may be back at work, but the aftermath was still taking its toll. They really took their organisational resilience to the next level by using Alert Cascade to continue to mitigate and manage the effects of that tragic incident long after the incident itself was over.
Now, that use case might not fit for every organisation or business culture. What we’re really saying here is if you are struggling to get buy in internally, think outside the box. Resilient communications don’t just bring benefits during a major incident, they enhance your organisational resilience in so many other ways.