Keep Your Event Content Organized and Avoid a Data Gap

 

Congratulations! You’ve made it through another call for abstracts/speakers/papers. Your submissions are in, your sessions are selected, and your collection site is now closed. It’s time to take the collected content and turn it into print and digital conference materials. You’re almost to the finish line.

So, how are you managing your data gap?

Okay, let’s back up…

What is a data gap?

In short, it’s the period of time between when all final program content has been extracted from your collection system, and final materials are due to your print and digital vendors for output. During this time, your program will change, often multiple times. A submitter will need to add or update a credited co-author. A final paper will require last-minute revisions. So who is responsible for managing these changes, where are they tracked, and how are changes communicated to your print, online and app providers? Without a well-defined process in place, there is a significant risk that your attendees will end up with materials that are incorrect, incomplete or outdated. Here are three simple steps to help you take control of your data gap, reducing the amount of time spent managing content changes and minimizing content errors:

Create a single, centralized database of record

A database of record is a single file where all of your current content lives, and where all subsequent changes will be made. This repository of conference content allows all staff and stakeholders to work from one set of consistent data, rather than having to each manage changes on their own with separate vendors. Depending upon the quantity and type of content you have collected, you may want to use an excel spreadsheet to list all files, links to the final documents or files on your server, date and time of the last update, and the nature of the change.

Trying to manage these changes within your abstract management system after it has closed can be tricky. If the content has already been extracted and is in the process of being formatted and prepped for production, you will have to manage those changes separately with each vendor. Or, if you need to go back into the system and extract updated content each time it changes, you’re essentially requiring either your vendors or your staff to re-format the same content again and again.

Know how your vendors want to receive changes

Depending upon the nature and volume of the changes, do they want to receive them as they happen? Do they prefer that you wait and batch-upload them at a particular time? In what format do they need them? Use this information to build your own processes, and your database of record accordingly.

Assign one owner to manage all changes

There should be only one person who is changing data in your “database of record” and communicating changes to your staff or vendors. This is the best way to have confidence in your database as the “source of truth” for your program content.

This is just one of the many content “hacks” we share with our customers to help them manage their content more efficiently and error-free. Want to know more? Send us a note at justask@omnipress.com. We’re happy to share the knowledge!

The One Word Solution To Avoid Mission Drift

As a company with technology at its core, we are always keeping an eye on the big picture trends. Over the past few years, one trend that continues to pick up steam is the shift towards integrations.

Rather than trying to meet every possible need of your customers, integrations allow you to focus on your area of expertise. You then find partners with complementary offerings and create a seamless connection between products for your customers. The theory goes that by specializing in one particular niche, you are able to do it better than anyone else. And when you work with companies that share this philosophy, it creates a better overall experience for your customers.

Applying This Idea to Your Association

The benefits of this approach go far beyond software development. In fact, I started to think about how useful this thinking can be to our customers, as well. How much of what your association does is core to its mission, and how much of your staff’s time is spent on efforts that don’t support your overall goals? This “mission drift” is a common issue in the non-profit world. A project that may have started as a one-time request might now be an established offering. Over time, these seemingly small distractions can add up. Think about the priorities these non-essential tasks have kept your organization from completing.

The fix for mission drift begins with a fresh look at your association’s mission statement. How well does your mission support what your members see as your true value? Areas that your staff spends time on that don’t support these outcomes provide a good starting point to ask, “Is this something we should be offering?” You may also explore if there are others that can provide this service better than you currently do.

For Omnipress, our core mission is to help associations deliver educational content to their members. Over the years, the tools we use have changed, but this central focus remains. In fact, before we offer a new product or develop a new feature of CATALYST, we ensure it will support our goal. It’s also critical that we believe we can provide this service to our customers better than anyone else can. If the answer to either of these questions is “no,” we’ll look for a partner that can help us provide the best possible experience for our customers.

Avoiding Mission Drift

Saying “no” is often harder than saying “yes” to a member. It is, however, necessary. Avoiding mission drift, especially in the non-profit world, is essential if you want to be able to deliver on your goals. For each association the answer about which areas to focus on will be different. For Omnipress though, our mission has remained the same for over 40 years: To help your association deliver the content your members value.