Using a Features Checklist to Evaluate Mass Notification Vendors

We just finished a pretty comprehensive comparison of Hyper-Reach to our primary competitors. While we think we stack up very well, that’s to be expected.  More important, is what you think when you’re comparing vendors for emergency alerts. 

That got us thinking about the criteria you might use in evaluating different features.  Because not all features are equally valuable or important in real life. 

We’ve seen requirements from some customers that had us scratching our heads. For example, allowing a resident to point to a place on a map to identify their address when registering for alerts. Or supporting the Windows Phone operating system for sending messages. 

It’s not that these things are irrelevant, but making them mandatory to your selection of a mass notification system can box you into a single vendor who’s potentially going to charge you much more than its competitors. (You could probably replace every old smartphone for the difference in cost.)

And you might lose out on important new features that you actually care about.

You’re the best arbiter of what’s important to you. Here are some criteria you might want to apply in making that determination:

  1. Impact or utility. How much of a potential impact does a particular feature have? To illustrate, we’re now offering message delivery on Amazon Alexa smart speakers. Since there are now more of those than home landlines and they are growing, the impact of this technology on your ability to reach the public is potentially huge. 
  2. Frequency. How often are you going to use a particular feature?  For example, we offer a really easy message template capability that you can literally use for any alert, to make your messaging more clear and consistent. 
  3. Cumulative Speed. We say “cumulative” because there many ways a message can be delayed or sped up. A system that’s easier to use, for example, will deliver messages faster, all things being equal. Consider the impact of every step in the process, from message creation, to selecting your audience, to delivering calls, texts, emails, etc. You might even include getting to your laptop, since we’re getting fabulous reviews on our smartphone launch app.
  4. Total cost of ownership. Beyond what you pay for the system itself, consider costs such as training time, add-on charges (many vendors charge extra for every little thing), etc. 
  5. Service. Everyone will tout their customer service, but we have customers who not only tell us that ours is fantastic, it’s also a big step up from whoever they were using before. 

At Hyper-Reach, we focus on what we think really matters. So we offer the most ways to get citizens to sign up and the most ways to deliver a message. Because every additional citizen you reach makes your system that much more effective. 

While there might be some obscure feature we don’t offer, the benefit to that is a simpler, easier-to-use system that anyone can be trained on in just a few hours. Which means you can send messages faster and spend less time in training. 

As we said, only you can decide what’s really important to you in a critical event management system. But we’re finding that more and more people are telling us that we offer everything they really care about. Typically at a cost of 15%-30% less than what our competitors charge. And that will buy a lot of cellphones.