Avoid a Data Gap

Congratulations! You’ve made it through another call for abstracts/speakers/papers. Your submissions are in, your sessions are selected, and your collection site is now closed. It’s time to take the collected content and turn it into print and digital conference materials. You’re almost to the finish line.

So, how are you managing your data gap?

Okay, let’s back up…

What is a data gap?

In short, it’s the period of time between when all final program content has been extracted from your collection system, and final materials are due to your print and digital vendors for output. During this time, your program will change, often multiple times. A submitter will need to add or update a credited co-author. A final paper will require last-minute revisions. So who is responsible for managing these changes, where are they tracked, and how are changes communicated to your print, online and app providers? Without a well-defined process in place, there is a significant risk that your attendees will end up with materials that are incorrect, incomplete or outdated. Here are three simple steps to help you take control of your data gap, reducing the amount of time spent managing content changes and minimizing content errors:

Create a single, centralized database of record

A database of record is a single file where all of your current content lives, and where all subsequent changes will be made. This repository of conference content allows all staff and stakeholders to work from one set of consistent data, rather than having to each manage changes on their own with separate vendors. Depending upon the quantity and type of content you have collected, you may want to use an excel spreadsheet to list all files, links to the final documents or files on your server, date and time of the last update, and the nature of the change.

Trying to manage these changes within your abstract management system after it has closed can be tricky. If the content has already been extracted and is in the process of being formatted and prepped for production, you will have to manage those changes separately with each vendor. Or, if you need to go back into the system and extract updated content each time it changes, you’re essentially requiring either your vendors or your staff to re-format the same content again and again.

Know how your vendors want to receive changes

Depending upon the nature and volume of the changes, do they want to receive them as they happen? Do they prefer that you wait and batch-upload them at a particular time? In what format do they need them? Use this information to build your own processes, and your database of record accordingly.

Assign one owner to manage all changes

There should be only one person who is changing data in your “database of record” and communicating changes to your staff or vendors. This is the best way to have confidence in your database as the “source of truth” for your program content.

This is just one of the many content “hacks” we share with our customers to help them manage their content more efficiently and error-free. Want to know more? Send us a note at justask@omnipress.com. We’re happy to share the knowledge!