With so many abstract management softwares out there, it can seem tempting to start with or switch to a free software to help manage your submission process. For one, planning any event is time consuming and often costly, so having a free management system can help offset some of the expense.
After all, if an abstract management software is free, why pay? While the question may seem simple, the answer is far from it. Here are some of the reasons why you should–and should not–consider a free abstract collection platform.
1. You Can Try Before Committing
The main benefit to using a free abstract management software is that it allows you to try and test features. If you are new to the process, you can try several platforms first before committing to then decide which one to use to contact reviewers and attendees.
Ideally, you could play around with different features, integrations, and settings to see what you like or need in a software. For instance, MeetingHand allows for templated customizations, and Odoo is an open source, integrated app platform that allows you to pick and choose applications that fit your planning needs.
Having some flexibility in the beginning of the planning process allows you to choose wisely which software best meets the needs of your organization.
2. You Can Take Advantage of Knowledge Bases and Customer Support
Another advantage to using free abstract management software is that you can learn for free as well. By taking advantage of free tutorials and customer support, you can get a better sense of how to collect abstracts and plan your event.
RSVPify has a robust content library and help center that makes it easy to learn the software. If your event requires a lot of marketing and promotion, Splash offers community support, webinars, tutorials, and more to help you get started.
Experimenting with free abstract management software that has free educational tools as well allows you to make knowledgeable decisions about what you want or need in a platform.
3. You Can Empower Your Team to Give Feedback
With any collaborative planning process, it’s important for teams to give feedback and suggestions to optimize the process before you begin contacting participants. For instance, if you are using a software such as Eventleaf that allows for online ticketing, you can easily set up a test run with your staff. Or, if you need live polling at your event, software such as Eventee has features that your team can experiment with.
Aggregating feedback from the people who will help you plan and execute your event empowers them to make the event run more efficiently and successfully. If there are any features that are cumbersome, they can communicate them to find a better solution with that abstract collection software or another one.
3. Limited Users and Permissions
One of the biggest issues with free abstract management software is that it is rarely free to many people or for very long. In most instances, free abstract collections platforms only allow for 50-100 users at no cost. This means that you most likely can test drive the software with your team or a small pool of users, but any major event can become expensive–and quickly–when users exceed those limits.
FLOOR, for example, appears to be a great deal for $0 at 50 check-ins per day. But what if you are planning a medical conference with thousands of attendees? Suddenly, the price jumps to $2000+ per quarter. Eventleaf allows 100 attendees per year, but if you want basic customer support with integrations to your CRMs and other tools, the price is well above $12,000 per year.
4. Limited or No Integrations
While it may be nice to try an abstract management platform for free, it can be hard to tell how effective it is if you cannot test and try integrations. Some platforms, no matter how much you pay, don’t allow for any integrations and others only allow limited ones if you pay for the most expensive plan.
Why is this a problem? Why it may seem enticing to pay nothing or very little for an abstract collection platform, if you end up conferencing on multiple platforms and softwares, it can create major bottlenecks. Imagine managing your communications for a 500+ person conference on a collections platform that doesn’t integrate with multiple calendar applications? Or having to manually import contacts because the platform you chose doesn’t integrate with your CRM? Or worse, having to still use Excel for some planning and tracking because the software isn’t capable of pulling data from another content tool you use?
To avoid these problems, it’s best to choose a software that allows for unlimited integrations. Even if you choose a software that presently allows for integrations with the application you currently use, if you want to switch to different or new ones, you are bound by the abstract management platform’s capacity to accommodate them. For instance, if the platform you chose integrates with Zoom but not WebEx, your organization can’t make a switch if it needs to.
Limited to no integrations will cost your organization time and money because you will be unable to optimize the planning process.
5. Limited Customizations
While many abstract management software tools claim to have customizable features, those features are usually templated. If you are managing a relatively small and simple event, that lack of customization may not be a problem. But if you are planning large, complex events with many elements–or if you are planning events that you expect to continue to grow in the coming years–choosing a software with limited customization options will hold you back.
Imagine you need to create a scoring process with multiple rounds, different voting methods for each, and analytics reports that reflect the scoring process in real time. If you are using a software that allows you to create ‘custom’ reports that are templated, you will not be able to accomplish what you’d hope to in the collections process. What’s more is that the quality of your selected submissions will not meet your standards.
6. Limited Customer Support
While nearly all abstract management collection platforms offer customer support, that support is limited by how much you pay and what they offer. For instance, some free packages only offer email or chat bot support, while others offer 24/7 phone support but only for technical issues.
During the abstract collection process, there are many ways you need to be supported beyond resolving report glitches or error messages. While Precis does not offer free software, our affordable packages all have dedicated project managers to help you plan, create, and execute your campaigns. They know what your organization’s goals are, what often is the best plan of attack, and what can easily be done to optimally customize the software to your specific needs.
Dedicated project managers do more than fix problems–they help you avoid them altogether.
How to Choose the Right Abstract Management Software for Your Organization
Estimate the Event Size
If you are planning a large event, it’s best to not start with a free software that you will have to keep paying more and more for as your event grows. If you choose an affordable software with transparent pricing, organization-specific customizations, and a dedicated support team, you can start the planning process quickly and more cheaply than you can with a free software that you will ultimately pay for in the long run.
Know the Costs of the Plans and Upgrades
Assuming you won’t have to pay premium costs is one of the biggest budget mistakes you can make in the abstract management process. What if your event is affordable now, but with 100 more people attending, the platform you’re on is now out of budget? Always prepare and assume you will eventually need the higher priced plans–otherwise, your event can never grow.
If you choose an affordable platform that can grow with your organization’s needs, you won’t get hit with sticker shock when you suddenly need to integrate Salesforce or add 50 more users to the platform.
Understand the Platform’s Integration Support and Limitations
Integration capabilities, or lack thereof, may be one of the most critical pieces of information you can have before choosing a platform. Any platform that can only handle a small number of them or only certain programs, should be a huge red flag to your abstract collection team’s decision makers.
In today’s cloud-based computing world, companies and organizations are constantly re-evaluating which tools they use and why. For instance, you may have used Hubspot for the past 5 years but now you are migrating to Adobe’s Marketing Cloud. If the abstract management software you chose only supports Hubspot, that means you’ll have to most likely migrate to another abstract management tool too.
The Best Questions to Ask Sales
- What are the terms of the subscription? Is it a fixed-price, per attendee, per clicks, etc.? What is the most that my organization might end up paying for this SaaS?
- Will it integrate with any marketing tools that I use? How are communications collected and tracked?
- Can you provide testimonials? What types of organizations currently use your product?