Business Continuity

Business continuity plans are an increasingly important part of running an organisation. Mobile messaging - in particular SMS text messaging - can greatly help with effective communications.

Perhaps you run a transport firm, and heavy snow is disrupting some routes. Maybe you are a city office manager, trying to contact staff during an incident. Or maybe you are in charge of operations at a large legal firm, trying to get things moving after a fire at your head office Whatever your business, you will find it difficult to function in a crisis situation if you have not planned your responses in advance.

Business continuity plans are an increasingly important part of running an organisation. Research from the British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA) and the Cabinet Office shows that having such a plan is likely to stop businesses failing after a major disruption such as a flood or fire.

Business continuity plans require organisations to think through all the issues that could affect them, and to put in place systems and procedures to resolve any difficulties. Key areas to consider include premises, equipment and machinery, people, transport and communications.

Communications is clearly a major issue in the three scenarios mentioned earlier. In each case those in charge need to contact a large number of people in a short space of time, providing warnings, information and instructions.

SMS text messaging – ubiquitous, fast, cost effective

SMS text alerts are the obvious solution as they allow messages to be sent instantly and en masse to individuals and groups of people throughout the organisation. This instant delivery is regardless of whether or not they are in a single location or multiple locations throughout the country or internationally.

The message also doesn't need to be confined to a single 160 character SMS or 70 character "UCS-2" SMS. It can span multiple SMS to convey the information that you need to get out and still be delivered in a small number of seconds. For example, a 5-part SMS message containing over 700 characters can be delivered to a mobile in just over 5 seconds.

SMS text messaging also has the advantage of being cost effective and is more likely to get through than a voice call in times of crisis when the phone lines and mobile voice networks are likely to be jammed.

In business continuity, SMS text messaging can be used to:

  • check on the status of staff and perform a “roll call” to confirm everyone is fine;
  • keep employees informed of developments and what they need to do;
  • trigger emergency teams into action;
  • receive updates from staff on a situation.

Voice, voice, voice

Communication using voice calls also has its place in business continuity, however where a person needs to make a one-to-one voice call to many people this can be very time consuming. An alternative is to use automated voice message distribution where the notification service calls each person and plays a pre-recorded or text-to-voice message to each person.

Automated voice message distribution systems can call a person’s mobile, play the message to them and optionally ask them to confirm they’ve heard the message by pressing a key on their phone. This acknowledgement by that person can then be recorded by the system so that you can see who has and has not heard the message.

Such systems can make many simultaneous calls and quickly get the message out to large teams. However, such systems aren’t as quick as SMS text messaging at distributing a message.

Relevant services from HSL Mobile

When you need to send a message in an emergency you often need to be able to do so immediately and not necessarily when at your desk. With HSL Mobile’s AlertBroadcast service a message can be sent to many people directly from a mobile phone simply by sending a single text message. This single text message is then broadcast by the AlertBroadcast service to all recipients. Any replies to this message are forwarded back to you.

HSL Mobile’s WebSMS service is a web portal that can be used in the office or on the move to send and receive messages. Messages can be sent to a large number of people in seconds by selecting the appropriate distribution list, entering a message and pressing the send button. Multiple inboxes and team distribution lists are accessible through the WebSMS service. You can easily see who has and hasn’t received a message so that alternative action can be taken. The support for sending your message as an email is also an option for use with WebSMS.

Business Continuity and Severe Weather

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