After working very hard to put on a great conference, the nail in the coffin for the planners’ exhaustion is often the issuing and collation of meeting related surveys and CEUs. If the work is performed using paper and/or spreadsheets, the resulting toil is usually a mountain of tedious and error-prone management of forms. The work is labor and time-intensive and, consequently, unnecessarily expensive.
The good news is there are some great technology tools for automating much of these processes. These tools tend to specialize in a particular purpose but can work in harmony with the right selection of products. The rise of the smartphone has propelled many of these solutions, resulting in technology that is widely available and easy to use.
The first step is to accurately track who attended a workshop or session. This tracking will allow you to issue CEUs to the correct people and also have surveys completed by just those who attended the program. In the old days – and still all too often – this is done with paper “sign in” sheets that later have to be collected and manually collated.
To eliminate this mostly manual process, a vast improvement is to put a scannable code on the attendee’s badge, such as a bar code or QR code. Technology using the former is often proprietary and unnecessarily expensive. However, great smartphone scanning apps can target QR codes and accurately track whenever an attendee enters, or even leaves, a session. The beauty of this software is that any volunteer with an Apple or Android smartphone (about 90% of the market) can stand outside of the room and scan participants. After the conference, easy to run reports show who attended which session with accurate timestamps.
Once you have recorded someone as attending a session, the next step is getting his or her feedback. All to often, surveys are issued using a stack of blank paper forms placed on a table at the back of the room! Needless to say, response rates to these surveys are low. Furthermore, what paper forms that are submitted have to be manually tabulated. The process is long, tedious, error prone and with low response rates.
The web improved this process. However, most web survey tools do not have the concept of a conference that has many sessions each of which has one survey. So the creation of the actual surveys can involve a lot of duplicate work. Furthermore, waiting till after the show to send emails linked to surveys tend to result in lower response.
Survey software that is specialized for conferences make it easy to issue web and mobile-based surveys. By creating the templates for each type of survey (for example, based on each session track), you can create surveys that meet your needs. Furthermore, by including surveys on your conference mobile app you encourage higher response rates by making it easy for the attendee to complete a survey just as a session is ending. You can also use real-time mobile notifications to remind him or her that it is time to complete the survey. Finally, such a solution spares you and the staff the tedium of manual tabulation of results. This can be coupled with a post-conference email blast to the web-based surveys to maximize returns.
Issuing CEU Certificates
The last part is issuing CEU certificates to scanned attendees. Specialized conference CEU survey software can eliminate the time-consuming and error-prone process of issuing the certificates. If you used this software for the previous steps, the system knows who is eligible for the CEUs – i.e. those scanned in and, optionally, have complete the appropriate surveys. Using a certificate based on your template, the software can then issue surveys via email to each attendee. By clicking on a link, they would then have a PDF copy of their certificates which can then be downloaded to his or her device for safekeeping. A central contact database on your CEU software can then keep track of every credit issued for every meeting. If someone calls to look up CEUs, all you have to do is pull up their name and reissue the certificate.
By automating the tracking of attendees, construction and management of the surveys and the issuing of CEUs certificates, much tedious and error-prone activity after the conference can be saved for you and your staff. You deserve a few days to relax!
Click here to see such a solution.