New product idea: conference/event management

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    yachtboy
    Asked on February 13, 2012 at 09:58 AM

    In my professional life, I do a lot of work with conferences and events.  Right now, there is not a good software solution to help me manage these things.  There are some tools out there that are egregiously expensive and hard to use (like http://home.abstractsonline.com/), but nothing that is really good.

    As a workaround, I use Jotforms whenever I can to make the process easier, but Jotforms is really only good for collecting information.  It's no good at all for working with the data once I have it.  To do that, I then have to export data to PDF, Excel, or the google docs hack that you suggest.  None of these are ideal, since any work I do to a submission after the export isn't captured by Jotforms, so it's really easy to make mistakes and have things slip through the cracks.

    So I'd suggest a completely separate product line based on Jotforms but with a whole set of features added to the back end to make managing the data easier.  Here are some example usage scenarios:

    1:  I am soliciting abstracts for a conference.  People who want to present at my conference fill out a form (like this one: http://form.jotform.com/form/20395520205) to submit abstracts.  Jotform is great at collecting the abstracts, but now when I want to assign the abstracts to reviewers and have them read the abstracts, score them, add notes about them, etc., I have to do all sorts of exporting and spreadsheet management.  The workaround I'm using right now is to export some fields to a table, then hack that table into Google Docs, then get my reviewers (who are old guys not very good at computers) to download the abstracts and look at them separately, then go into Google Docs and enter their scores.  The spreadsheet takes a really long time to set up:  https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AquaLmHaDevrdG9QRzlvMEtBdlhVOGQ5bTFNUVcyMFE 

    2:  I have selected abstracts to include in the conference.  Now I have to do more spreadsheet stuff.  It would be way better if I could simply arrange them into sessions using one tool.  Instead I have to create yet more spreadsheets.

    3:  I want to tell abstract submitters that they are rejected or accepted or waitlisted.  It would be great if I could check a box "accepted/rejected/waitlisted" and have a form letter go back to the email of the submitter, then have a copy of that letter appended to the abstract database.

    4:  I want to publish the sessions with presenter names, titles, etc., to a website or mobile app.  More new spreadsheets, more cutting and pasting, etc.  Or if I want to assemble a printed guide, it would also be good to get the info into some sort of format that makes it easy to export into Word or some sort of Adobe file (not PDF) to manipulate for press.

    Another example is that I work on a project where we have multiple art exhibitions a year.  People submit their art projects for each exhibition and we do all kinds of manipulation like I've described above in Google Docs.  But now we have a separate set of data for each exhibition.  It would be great to have one master database with different forms for different events.

    I currently work with at least 5 organizations that are struggling with this, so I know that a product for this market would be well-received if it were done right. 

    Thanks,

    Jason

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    NeilVicente
    Answered on February 13, 2012 at 03:33 PM

    Thank you for your invaluable, albeit lengthy, suggestion. I have forwarded your ideas to our development team for consideration, although we can't make any promises right now, since our developers' workload has been extremely heavy these days.