The DIY Approach for Online Abstract Collection Systems

Published by Sean Lawler | Topics: Conferences, Online Collection Systems

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Once upon a time there was a small association with a tight budget that hired a super-smart IT guy. When the super-smart IT guy saw the organization’s clumsy abstract and presentation collection process (think Excel spreadsheets and post-it notes), he offered to help the super-overwhelmed education director create an in-house online abstract collection system.

Their super-progressive executive director gave the green light for the IT guy to spend months and months to develop the perfect system based on his super-smart, super-secret coding skills and one of his buddy’s super-unknown operating systems. The project cost more than twice what they thought it would, but they figured they were saving money because it would be a system that would last forever.

For two years, all was fine and dandy until the super-smart IT guy got a better job for another company, and the poor association was left with a system that no one else could understand, maintain, upgrade or fix.

The moral of the story is that many associations make the mistake of trying to build in-house abstract collection systems without asking all the questions that ensure that an in-house system is the best long-term solution to their call for presentations process.

We’ve put together a list of questions you should ask yourself before undertaking what can be a costly and frustrating process if it doesn’t succeed:

  • Do you have the staffing capacity, knowledge of collection concepts and technological expertise to succeed?
  • Would you have to hire an external development team to build the system, and does that team have the staffing capacity, knowledge of collection concepts and technological expertise to succeed?
  • How would you expect to manage the development process? Have you ever managed software development before?
  • How long will it take to build? Development cycles can go a few months to years long depending on how many people are assigned to the project, how much money you’re willing to invest and if it’s properly managed. Do you have the luxury of waiting?
  • How much are you willing to spend in money, time and personnel? Is this the best use of these resources? It’s not uncommon to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on homegrown systems.
  • Who will be responsible for testing the product? Do you have a testing regimen in place?
  • How will you maintain the product? Will you have a team that’s tasked with maintaining the software for bugs and additional functionality requests? Do you have a development road map?
  • If you hire an external team, will they be able to support you after they build the initial product?
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About Sean Lawler

Sean is the Product Director of Digital Services here at Omnipress... handling their online abstract management/speaker file collection, digital publishing platforms, mobile event apps, and other digital media delivery. He understands technology very well, but can relate it to non-technical people better than most. ...read more



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