Too often notification tests are oversimplified and devolve into mechanical exercise of a call list. While it is important to know that your contact information is accurate and up to date, and that the right people know how to use your notification system, the real end objectives are mobilization and deployment, not simple notification. In addition to the mechanics of how to contact staff, a comprehensive notification test must also exercise management’s ability to decide: who to contact based on a wide-range of impact scenarios, when to contact them based on the severity of the event, when to mobilize them based on the evolving facts of the situation and where to deploy to based on the geographical nature of the event.
Four distinct exercises are required in order to test the full range of potential notification, mobilization and deployment responses: a general notification test (physical), an immediate response test (table-top), a communications test (table-top) and a business unit activation test (table-top). The general notification test will exercise the ability to use the call procedure, wallet cards and/or notification systems to contact recovery staff and stakeholders in a timely manner. This test proves the accuracy of the contact information and the functionality of the call-tree and/or notification system procedures. The immediate response test will exercise the response team’s ability to quickly evaluate a complicated disaster event, to determine which areas of the organization have been or will be impacted, and to place the appropriate individuals in the correct state of readiness—standby, mobilization, deployment or stand-down. The communications test exercises the crisis communications team’s ability to quickly and accurately determine when to send communiques, which ones to send, which interest groups to send them to and which communication vehicles to use. The final test involves the business recovery teams and will exercise their ability to contact, mobilize and deploy their team members.