Are you one of the associations that use multiple systems and databases to take their abstract management system through the initial call for presentations, the review process, the final collection, scheduling and finally the output of the abstracts or presentations in either digital or print form?

Unfortunately, we see all too often that an association’s system has been cobbled together over the years with different vendors, in-house Excel spreadsheets and other systems. As Cool Hand Luke might say, “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” The result of the hodgepodge of technology increases the risks of having different data in different places and struggling with determining which place has the most current data.

Even if you “freeze” all additional systems before you move the data and try to make sure that no changes are being made on any other systems, you’ll discover (painfully) that as soon as unsynchronized changes happen, you again run into version control issues. This can be particularly troublesome when you have multiple administrative users in different systems.

So the best solution is having all of your collection process in a self-contained system that automatically keeps everything synchronized and up to date. Even better is if the system is optimized to work with your final outputs, whether that’s print, CD, flash drive or online.

We’ve seen these types of communication issues cause delays, frustration and even event-day crises because the parts of the abstract collection system didn’t talk to each other. What’s your worst Cool Hand Luke story about using multiple systems, and how did you fix it?