It’s a paradox: When you contact a software company to discuss abstract management software for conferences, does the company talk to you right away about software? If the answer is yes, you might want to look elsewhere. Here’s why: Software companies should be asking about your organization’s submission, collection and review process. Every organization’s process is different. Understanding your process is the first step toward understanding how software can facilitate your process.
“Until I understand my client’s workflow, the software doesn’t matter. We take the time to learn that society’s process, then we can best provide them with the tools that will help them.” -Lisa Kelley, Mira Project Manager
Every organization has a different way of collecting and reviewing abstracts. The small details that make a process unique are important to the success of a conference. No software is effective “out of the box” for conference management. Effective software is configured and customized to accommodate the specific process of the organization.
Here are a few examples of process details that vary from group to group:
- Awarding of travelling fellowships – Which participants pay their own way, and which are funded?
- Vocabulary – Is a participant a submitter, a presenter or an author? Do they attend tracks, sessions or lectures?
- Acceptance criterion – Does the conference chairperson establish the decision rubrik on abstract acceptance, or does the chairperson of each track determine the acceptance criterion?
- Disclosures – Do participants fill out a single form, or a multistep procedure to disclose author affiliations?
“I haven’t seen two societies handle disclosures in the same way,” explains Patrick Driscoll, Project Manager for Mira.
Patrick, Lisa and the entire Mira project management team spend a lot of time with clients listening to their process, understanding their needs, and advising on how bring out the relevant, powerful features of the software.
Lisa notes that the time Mira’s Project Managers have invested in understanding a wide variety of client processes brings an unexpected bonus benefit for conference organizers – advice on new, efficient ways of managing submissions. “We can tell them possibilities and options that streamline their process and make everything easier for them in the long run,” she says.
A good abstract software provider acts as a consultant to the entire conference. John Berglund, CEO of Mira Smart Conferencing, says that his software company’s product is not, in fact, software. “Our product is a successful conference.”