How do you know when you’ve outgrown your abstract management process?
Change is difficult. And change simply for the sake of change is a waste of resources. But there’s a fine line between what’s comfortable and what’s best for your organization. Perceptions of control and security are strong forces that can keep us from venturing into the unknown.
It’s essential to challenge your workflow from time-to-time, just to make sure everything is relevant. Many variables can can change over time, which can alter the value a system offers.
- Changes in technology can make automating easier and cheaper than when your process was developed.
- The amount of time administrators have to spend on a process may lessen as their organizational responsibilities grow.
- Professional standards may evolve, exposing new flaws in the current workflow.
Maybe your organization has managed conference abstracts by hand since the very beginning. It works well for your team. You’ve got a system. It may be a combination of email and spreadsheets connected with some web applications. All your data lives on a single PC and you back up it up daily or weekly to a remote hard drive or a cloud drive such as Dropbox or Google Drive. You’ve got good, strong passwords.
There may be one person on your team – perhaps it’s you – who knows and understands the workflow so well that the very concept of changing is difficult to imagine. What about cost? What about learning curve?
Richard Stimac, Mira’s business development manager, says there’s a difference between defending your data and real security. And there’s a difference between a sustainable workflow and a comfortable process. And that difference could be about a feeling rather than reality. He calls it “perceived control.”
“Being comfortable with a process can lull us into the belief that all is well,” said Stimac. He urges conference administrators to consider how others – submitters, reviewers, sponsors, etc. – view their abstract management process.
Stimac says a lot of the conference administrators he speaks to are comfortable with their process and couldn’t imagine making a change. Why fix it if it’s not broken? “They say, ‘if it’s on a spreadsheet, I know exactly where it is,’ ” says Stimac.
Challenge Your Current Workflow
For many organizations, just comparing – once in a while – their workflow to an abstract management platform is enough to convince them that their process is either still relevant or that a change is needed. Here are a few questions to ask, as you challenge your workflow:
- What would happen if the employee or volunteer who manages your conference abstract management suddenly left your organization?
- How long does it take to explain your system to a new employee or volunteer?
- What does your process look like to those submitting abstracts, potential reviewers and the universe of researchers who will eventually consume your conference data?
Over the next few posts, we’ll dive deeper into the benefits of challenging your current abstract management workflow.
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