Okay, yes we are a software company. It is our job to convince you to buy our products.
Now that we got that out of the way, we can focus on the fact that we still hear bad software advice. And we have heard some big ones. As you brew your cup of coffee, let's take a look at what made the top of our list.
1. The Conference Services department can just use what the scheduling/registrar office uses. There is no need for another system.
End of story.
Do not pass go.
Yes, it might feel like it is efficient, but... no. For so many reasons.
The most important is that scheduling software is perfect for... well, scheduling. It is not a conference management software; it is not the right tool for the job. I mean, you wouldn't use a power saw to cut a piece of paper.
The lifecyle of an event includes many moving pieces. Identify these elements and create a roadmap of all that makes up conference management. You then have a stronger case for why a classroom scheduling software will not provide the infrastructure for effective conference management.
2. You don't need a software system. You have been doing fine with what you have been using. Just add another staff person.
Well, yes you can. But why? It goes back to point #1. Conference services is more than just booking a conference space.
Business growth can't happen if staff are overwhelmed or spending a large amount of admin time generating reports from one system to upload to another.
As for adding another staff person, ask, "How will another staff person help streamline business processes, remove unnecessary time-eating tasks such as data entry into multiple systems, improve response time, and increase revenue generation?"
If something prompted you to search out a new system in the first place, it is still going to be there. Those pain points are not going to go away simply because someone said the old way has worked or adding another worker will help with the load.
Identifying these barriers will help you build a report where you can show and justify the purchase price; you are showing the return on the investment.
3. This fancy database/website/system is exactly what our venue needs!
We recently finished implementing at a campus on the west coast. We were not the first option for the school. In fact, they originally purchased another system over ours. But after about 6 months with the other system, they realized the razzle and dazzle did not fit their needs.
When looking for software, it is important to look beyond the window dressing and the price tag and do deep soul-searching into what you need the system to do. When you begin your search, a lot of the legwork begins with your department and operations.
Ask questions such as:
- What specific problems are you trying to solve? What are current pain points for your staff?
- Where do they spend large amounts of admin time with manual entry and repetitive data entry?
- Identify the points during the event lifecycle you need to ensure you have a system to support your operations. These could include contracting, invoicing, resource management, reporting, overnight accommodations, or catering. Then identify what are musts and wish list items.
- Are there other departments at your campus or venue with which you work closely? How do you wish to incorporate and communicate with them (e.g.: system access or reports)?
- How do you want the new system to expand your brand and business?
You can continue on, but this provides a starting point: look big picture and small detail. You can find more detail and questions to ask in our free ebook 5 Steps for a Successful Selection Process.
4. You HAVE to get this system. It is the best option out there.
So did you ever have a parent or guardian say, "If everyone jumped off the cliff, would you follow?" The same applies here.
Look at systems with only YOUR operations in mind, not what the venue down the road did. Their operations might be different enough from you that what works for them won't work for you. You are the one who has to live with the purchase.
There are so many more pieces of bad advice we could talk about, but these are our top 4. We get it; purchasing software is not an easy, fun, or glamorous task. It is a lot of research; a lot of time listening to sales people say "blah, blah, blah"; and a lot of hard evaluation of yourself and your team.
Better to do your homework and research than to follow bad software advice, especially if the advice is go with something that doesn't fit quite right. Then it just becomes the outfit 2 sizes too small still hanging in your closet.
If you are beginning a search for a new event management software system, download our free ebook of 5 steps for a successful selection process.
What is some bad software advice you have received?