You’ve decided that your organization can benefit from an emergency notification system (ENS). Wise choice. Emergency notification systems, also known as mass notification systems, can keep your employees safe, informed, and connected in any type of unplanned event, from true emergencies like safety situations or severe weather to business disruptions like IT outages.

The next step is selecting the best emergency notification system for your business. As with any software purchase, this evaluation should include comparing vendors across features and pricing. But while mass notification systems are relatively straightforward technology, the market can be tricky to navigate.

ENS solutions are largely commoditized. The market’s early days saw tremendous innovation and differentiation, but as the technology evolved, most products standardized on similar features and functionality. Virtually any emergency notification system that you evaluate will include multi-channel support, two-way communication, hotlines and conference bridges, analytics and reporting, integration, mobile support, and more. Some may do these things better than others – and you should certainly prioritize based on your specific needs – but for the most part, ENS solutions are created equal.

That doesn’t mean, however, that they cost the same. While capabilities may be similar across emergency notification systems, pricing is all over the place. The six steps below will help you find the right product for your organization at the best possible price.

1.Use your leverage.

Selecting an emergency notification system is different from a typical SaaS purchase. As mentioned above, most ENS solutions include very similar features. That means that as a buyer, you have the leverage and negotiating power. Research the market (our Emergency Notification System’s Buyer’s Guide is a great place to start.) Learn what differentiates each solution or vendor – or not – and don’t be afraid to communicate that you understand how the market works.

2.Translate across vendors’ sales-speak.

Sales reps will attempt to differentiate their products with internal lingo and jargon when they’re actually all talking about the same thing. Don’t buy into it. Ask them to translate their features and pricing schemes into terms that you are familiar and comfortable with, so you can more easily compare across solutions.

3.Be upfront about price quotes from other providers.

This is not the time to be shy. When you receive a quote, don’t accept it as the final offer. Respond with specific competitor data, including any other quotes you have received, to drive your preferred vendor to a reasonable price.

4.Get specific in your business case.

The right emergency notification system for you depends on your specific use cases. Do you live in an area with frequent severe weather that necessitates a high number of annual notifications? Are you in an industry with particular needs, like education or IT? Do you have a high volume of international users? Questions like these should factor into your ENS decision. Some vendors specialize in certain industries, like schools, while some have pricing plans more tailored to global usage.

5.Consider connectivity.

For the greatest efficiency and ease of use, your mass notification system should connect to your HR system or employee directory. Ask vendors about their APIs to systems like Microsoft Active Directory, Peoplesoft, WorkDay, SAP, and Salesforce. Integration with systems like these ensures that your ENS always has the most up-to-date recipient contact information – critical in an emergency.

6.Lock in your prices.

Emergency notification system vendors are notorious for offering an enticing first-year price, then raising prices by 20-30% in year two or three of your contract. They get away with it because no one wants to go through the hassle of switching – but you don’t want to pay exorbitant prices, either. Lock in a maximum price escalation in your contract to guarantee your prices remain reasonable and you can plan your budget accordingly.

For more best practices on choosing the right emergency notification system for your business, download The Emergency Notification System Buyer’s Guide.