Making the decision to buy (or license) event management software isn’t always as cut-and-dried as it seems. Despite the numerous benefits, some organizations are reluctant to move from spreadsheets and PDF floor plans to databases in the cloud. If you’re on the fence about it, here are some steps you can take to help you decide whether you’re ready for an upgrade.
Examine the pain.
If you’re feeling the pain of having to re-enter data over and over in different databases, or constantly switching in and out of separate software programs, or dragging around a huge binder full of papers during an event, or missing out on opportunities to analyze data to improve your planning, THEN you may be at the point of considering some type of software solution to take the pain away.
Do the math.
You can actually calculate the cost of lost productivity and the amount of time it will take to recoup your investment ahead of any purchase. Log the number of hours it takes to perform specific recurring tasks using your current system. Assign a dollar value to the time and compare that figure to the time savings (determined through demo usage of a particular application) that can be realized with a new platform. If the numbers add up, it’s one sign that you’re ready to move on.
Ask “what if?”
Data is a beautiful thing. When it’s organized and centralized in a single database, planners can look for patterns, observe trajectories, make associations, and draw conclusions about attendees, speakers, sponsors, and exhibitors. Data can illuminate growth opportunities, revenue streams, event programming glitches, and new market segments. It reduces the risk of experimentation and gives you the support you need to propose new programming.
Consider the obvious benefits.
Working with a platform designed for the unique business elements of events as opposed to makeshift solutions pieced together from general-purpose business software has some obvious benefits: reports that speak the language of the event, accounting and budgeting that is formatted for the types of revenue and expense items unique to conferences and trade shows, and CRM systems that address the peculiarities of exhibit, sponsorship, and ad sales.
Consider the not-so-obvious benefits.
Organizing an operation with state-of-the art solutions and processes can have a positive impact on employees: more productivity, less stress, and reduced tedium. It also allows staffers to engage in more creative endeavors or spend more time with customers. Being able to exchange the infamous “binder” of vendor confirmations, BEOs, rooming lists, and other tools of the trade for an iPad (possible with cloud-based event management platforms) is an unexpected bonus.
If this sort of “self” examination appeals to you, you may be in a position to take the next steps: consult with your CFO for a budget, obtain feedback from the staff that will be impacted by the change, and prepare a list of “must have” and “like to have” features you desire. Then, begin a careful, informed examination of platforms, vendors, and pricing. Change doesn’t happen over night, but the most difficult step is often the first one.
This post was written exclusively for Ungerboeck by Michelle Bruno, MPC, Bruno Group Signature Events