Communications in a Crisis

Communications in a Crisis

Being prepared is one of the first rules of business

So why is that we’re so often caught out by the smallest omissions?

The impact of an incident can be mitigated if organisations are prepared for communication during a crisis or event. Being able to communicate critical information to people in a timely fashion must be a cornerstone of any disaster recovery strategy or business continuity plan – informing staff or customers (or citizens) of the latest course of action, and providing status updates.

When incidents happen out of usual office hours, or away from the office, computers and laptops are left at home or the office, but mobile phones remain in peoples’ pockets.

With advance preparation, mobile communications can be harnessed to provide a proactive and timely notification and business continuity communication plan, using automated voice or SMS messages to specific groups of people, advising them what to do or where to go, as a situation develops.

Most incidents are hard to predict, but damage limitation in the event of any disaster, or event, should be ingrained in any organisation’s modus operandi. Regulators, shareholders, tax payers and insurance companies demand it.

10 Top Tips for Effective Business Continuity

check mark Engage Australia

It needn’t be difficult or costly to implement a disaster recovery plan. Here are some basic steps.

  1. Consider all of the eventualities that could befall your organisation, and the potential impact on critical business activities.
  2. List the measures that would need to be taken to minimise the negative impact of such an incident, such as who needs to be contacted and which services diverted to where?
  3. Update critical contact databases, ensuring you have current mobile numbers for all employees, suppliers, customers and key contacts. Remember, when planning for DR scenarios, both corporate and personal contacts can be stored, allowing greater reach.
  4. Ensure these contact details will be stored and readily available to whoever will be responsible for activating emergency measures.
  5. Decide who is responsible for activating any emergency plan or communications and have a contingency plan in case this person is not available.
  6. Work out how the person responsible could or would initiate any emergency communications during an event. Remember, they may not have access to their computer during an emergency, so consider activation by SMS or a simple phone call with security code authentication.
  7. Set up automated messaging systems, integrated with the organisation’s contact database, which can be activated remotely
  8. In the event that normal premises and IT systems are rendered inaccessible, consider whether operations can continue - and how and where
  9. Put in place good, resilient off-site backup systems - or use reputable online services - to protect core IT systems and email servers, so that these can still be accessed
  10. Explore in advance how phone lines might be re-routed if internal systems go down

question mark Engage Australia

Did you know?

  • 98% of SMS messages are opened and read by recipients.
  • SMS Messages are read on average within 5 seconds.

Sometimes it’s the simplest solutions that deliver the biggest benefits

EMAIL ALERTS – Send SMS alerts to alert out of hours / on call staff to let them know that they have received an email to their inbox which may require their immediate action.

TWO WAY COMMUNICATIONS – include a 2 way response channel by which members of a group can respond to confirm their response to an incident, their availability or even safety, as a kind of virtual roll call. It also allows Q&A sessions between users and operations staff.

VIRUS NOTIFICATIONS – Send early warnings of computer viruses to users.

PUBLIC SAFETY ANNOUNCEMENTS – Send real time Public Safety and Information announcements including road closures, power outages, weather updates, school closures and traffic accidents. 

INCIDENT UPDATES – Send SMS updates to keep users informed as an incident progresses from 1 stage to the next.

REMOTE MONITORING ALERTS – Send an SMS alert to appropriate staff in the event of any critical monitoring alert.

SYSTEM FAILURE ALERTS – When any service fails, notify the appropriate operations staff immediately by SMS or phone.

PASSWORD REQUESTS & ISSUE – Allow users to request a password reset by SMS and re-issue passwords by SMS both during and outside of office hours.  

All of these solutions can be easily automated using our suite of flexible API’s to integrate messaging into your existing incident management and monitoring systems.

Benefits of Using SMS for Business Continuity

Anytime, Anywhere - trigger your communications plan anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone/device

Maximum Reach - SMS notifications work across all carriers, and all mobile devices regardless of their operating system

Faster - Our SMS gateway can be quickly integrated to any web application server/system and arrive on mobile within seconds

Independent - SMS does not depend on internal IT systems which may have failed and is not dependent on staff having online access. SMS functionality is usually available on the mobile networks even if voice communications have failed.

Smarter - SMS messages are more likely to be read, are quicker to receive and not caught in spam or junk filters.

But remember, SMS message delivery is not guaranteed by mobile networks and can be delayed. In extreme national security scenarios, it is possible for the authorities to take over all services and stop delivery of SMS traffic. We ensure that all communications for disaster recovery and business continuity are sent out via the most reliable direct routes with delivery receipting.

How can we help ?

Engage is a high volume, carrier grade SMS Messaging platform that is designed to enable any enterprise to easily integrate mobile messaging into existing monitoring, ticketing and ERP systems via simple and flexible APIs including: HTTP / s, SMPP and Email2SMS.

Engage also has a range of Value Added Options to assist companies to customise their Business Continuity communications, including: Contact and List Management; PIN Management & Verification; and most importantly Builder, a rules based engine which allows easy customisation of any workflow including multi-level predefined communications plans, message templates, contact and list management and remote external triggers.