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A Better Way to Manage Conference Certifications

certifiedHave you seen this way of tracking CEUs at a conference before? The first step is to print out sign in sheets, possibly pre-populated with attendee names. The next step is throughout the conference placing the sheets in the appropriate rooms before the workshop and then picking them up after each session. After the show the show organizers get to back to the office and collate the signatures with the registration, membership, and CEU systems. This should only take a few days if you are lucky. Finally, you have to pull this data together and somehow get the certificates to the attendees. Rinse repeat!

The good news is that technology can replace each of these steps with the saving of hours of time, expense, frustration and errors. Here is an example of how that process can work at its best.

  • With good online registration software you should be able to have attendees pick their desired workshops in advance of the conference. You should be able to include descriptions of the workshops on the online form, as well set limits to the number of attendees per workshop.
  • The registration module should provide you all the real-time reports you need so you can plan accordingly.
  • Prior to the conference you should be able to set the number of CEUs and accrediting organizations for each workshop in the registration software.
  • The CEU setup should also let you create a PDF that mirrors your certificates. Those PDFs should support mail-merge tags so they can be customized to the attendee, specific workshop, and CEUs awarded.
  • At the conference you have a better option than using sign-in sheets or expensive scanners to track attendance. Cutting edge Smartphone-based session tracking apps use QR codes on the badge to track who attends which workshop. Anybody with an Apple or Android device can be a scanner.
  • These apps should be able track not only when someone enters a room, but also when he or she left.
  • The apps should handle two modes. One mode lets anybody attend a workshop, but still tracks attendance. The other mode, a “ticketing” mode, only lets in those who pre-registered. The latter is particularly useful when payment for the specific workshop is required.
  • If you have a dynamic mobile attendee app that is tied to the session tracking software you can do some neat things with surveys. First of all, workshop attendees can fill out the survey immediately after the session is over. The attendees would only see the specific workshop survey to fill out, rather than a long list of surveys for each workshop. You can also target attendees by email to encourage completing surveys.
  • After the conference it is time to award the CEUs. Your software should be able to automatically assign CEUs based on session attendance, with the option of you manually assigning.
  • If you have a membership system, the software should be able to tie these awards back to a membership record by key, such as a “Member ID.”
  • Finally you should be able to email a link to the certificates to all appropriate attendees.

 
One stop-shop registration, mobile and CEU software can save you hundreds of work hours per year while eliminating embarrassing errors.

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