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Five Steps for Optimizing Crisis Notification

1. Cooperate. Implementing a crisis notification system requires cooperation. Once HR has determined that all data is accurate, policies and procedures should be in place before using the system.

2. Delegate. Just because an organization has a crisis notification system does not mean it’s being properly used. Appointing an apt system administrator is crucial; typically, the company’s head of global resiliency or crisis management is well-suited for the role. For example, an organization’s head of crisis management is often familiar with the current in-house teams, so he or she can outline the benefits of such systems and incentivize the teams to adopt the technology.

3. Regulate. Establish distinct administrative rights and limits. The system will have employees’ personally identifiable information, making regulated access to such information critical. A delineated role structure with specific system rights per level will curb potential abuse. This is crucial when it comes to the executive crisis management team, which usually includes certain C-suite executives. Access to such groups must be closely safeguarded.

4. Train. Training is integral to getting people comfortable with the system, and it should not solely consist of a cursory introduction. Vendors have training resources for their systems, from online videos to quick reference guides to prerecorded Web-based modules. They may even offer live training sessions via WebEx or another virtual meeting platform. In most cases, you can insist on including training with the system while negotiating the contract.

5. Test. Failure to properly train employees can have serious, wide-ranging effects. Just think back to the message sent out by the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency in January 2018: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”  The employee who sent the message did not know that a drill was taking place and thought a real attack was underway. Crisis management tabletop exercises and other training iterations should include use of the system as it would be applied in a real-life situation. Testing employees on their ability to properly use the system is important in establishing and communicating clear protocols that differentiate training from real-life scenarios.

Dorian Amstel, CPP, is the senior director of physical security for DynCorp International LLC, a military contractor with operations in the Middle East.