So, your association has tasked you with vetting abstract submission systems. Where do you start? Like most folks these days, you may begin by browsing Google search results for vendors and skimming through product details in an eager attempt to find the right service for your needs.
The pressure is on, too—because when you pick one, it will need to be the perfect solution. You can’t afford to miss the mark when it comes to software this central to your annual meeting’s success. However, a lot of the options look similar, and you’re up to your ears in technical details that you can’t seem to differentiate between.
But don’t give up. It’s worth the time to get this right. Here are a few easy tips to help you narrow the field:
Look For Flexibility, Not Fit
The system you choose doesn’t need to be tailor-made for your industry, your conference size, or your abstract format if you can tailor it yourself. The right abstract submission system can become the perfect solution—for every conference you manage, even as your organization grows and changes. Look for flexible features that allow you to:
- Custom-Build the Abstract Submission Form: A form-builder is only as valuable as its ability to match your needs. Limited options or set fields will make it more suitable for some conferences than others. Meanwhile, the best platforms give you a broad palette of field types—from specific dropdowns and checkboxes to open text fields or file uploads—so that you can gather precisely what you need from your presenters, and nothing you don’t.
- Make Changes Yourself: Technology should be intuitive. Systems that need specialized training or computer coding to set up or change aren’t flexible, no matter what they can do. What’s so custom about a system that you can’t use without help? Some sort of learning curve is natural, but you’ll want software that’s meant for users like you.
- Work with a Flexible Support Staff: It’s normal to have questions when working with a new system. With access to 24/7 support staff, you know you’ll be able to get critical advice or assistance in time to troubleshoot next steps and make last-minute alterations.
Check For the Right Integrations
You might be looking for a new system, but you’ve got to keep all of the other technology you use in mind. Your conference abstract submission software will be much more useful if it plays well with your specific AMS, CRM, or marketing automation platform.
For example, you may have a recurring list of abstract reviewers stored in your association’s iMIS system. With an iMIS integration, your abstract management software can import the list—and sync any new changes in both directions—so you don’t need to duplicate your efforts or build it all over again from scratch. Keep an eye out for other valuable API features, like:
- Single-Sign-On: Everything’s easier when you don’t need a new profile for each integrated technology. The best systems let you access everything at once with a familiar login.
- Conference Apps: APIs to integrate with your conference app will let your abstract submission system feed approved abstracts (and the agenda, if it’s got a schedule builder) to attendees automatically on their mobile devices.
- Secure Payment Gateways: Do you require a submission fee for conference abstracts? Check to see if the system you’re evaluating integrates with your preferred payment gateway, like PayPal, Stripe, or Chase.
See It In Action Before You Buy
There’s no better way to evaluate an abstract management system than a live demo. This gives you the opportunity you need to ask questions, big or small, about the system’s capabilities and to see for yourself what it will look like when you’re using it.
OpenWater, our end-to-end abstract management software, was designed with a wide array of robust integrations, a fully customizable submission form, a flexible review process, and round-the-clock support. If you request a demo with us, we can walk you through these features as well as everything else OpenWater can do for your abstract submission process.