Here at WorkTrip, we recently went through the process of choosing a new technology tool to help support our business. That reminded me of how daunting (and painful) the technology selection process can seem. Don’t we all want to feel good about making the right choice, and confident about evangelizing our decision to others?
As an event planner today, you have a lot of tools to choose from. Some early technologies have evolved beyond their original scope, in an attempt to be all things to all event planners. And, new, innovative tools are introduced every day. Of course, having so many choices can be both a blessing and a curse.
Pulling from my recent technology experience (and my years as an event manager searching for tools to make my job easier), I thought I would share a few tips to help make choosing the right event management tools just a little easier.
Understanding your goals
I think the first step in finding the right solution (technology or otherwise) is to truly understand what you hope to get out of it. You may already know exactly what you hope to accomplish. If not, asking questions like these might help:
- Are you trying to improve communication about event details - with your own event team, other internal groups such as sales and your executive team, or outside event attendees?
- Are you looking to improve your productivity, or eliminate time wasted for you and others?
- Are you looking to create opportunities to be more creative? More strategic?
Getting buy-in from stakeholders
It is probably safe to say that you are setting yourself up for resistance, if you expect others to use a tool they didn’t ask for or think they don’t want. If you want others to successfully use a new tool, invite some of them to be part of that evaluation process. At a minimum, be sure to consider them as part of that process, by better understanding their needs, desires and concerns. Here are a few questions that can help guide you through that process:
- Is this tool just for you and your event management team?
- Will other internal groups such as marketing, sales, product management, etc. use it?
- How will they use the tool differently than you and what other “user” considerations should you keep in mind?
- How important is usability and accessibility? Can users easily access the tool from anywhere? Can they easily find the information they are looking for?
- Is it important to create one centralized location, where users can share and access all important event details?
The price you pay
How much does it cost? That is likely one of the first questions we all ask when evaluating a new technology tool. Just keep in mind that the purchase price and the “real cost” over the life of any technology can be very different. Here are a few questions to help you fully understand what you might be paying over the long haul:
- What is the pricing model? Is it a one-time fee, a per-event charge or subscription-based fee structure? If you pay per-event, that can really add up over time.
- Do you have to pay extra for modules and add-ons you really need?
- Is customer service and support included, or is there an additional charge for that?
- Are there additional charges for set-up, maintenance and/or other hidden costs?
- Finally, how much of your time (or others’) will it take to implement and use? Does it require time for training? How much is your time worth? And, what else could/should you be doing with your time?
Playing well with others
Most of us were taught at an early age to play well with others. That rule doesn’t always apply to technology, and it might be something you want to consider as you think about other tools you use today or plan to use in the future. Here are a few questions you might want to consider:
- Does it integrate with other tools you use today or plan to use in the future?
- If the answer to the previous question is “yes”, ask yourself how well it really integrates. Can you and other users access everything you need from one interface (back to that centralized location)? Or, will you be forced to toggle back and forth between tools?
Research, peers and the power of three
Here are a few additional recommendations I want to share. Do your research. As part of that research, ask your peers. What tools are others in your industry and role using, and what do they recommend? In addition, always be sure to read reviews and testimonials. One person might have had a great experience, but that might not be the norm.
Finally, I encourage you to evaluate at least three options. I can’t say exactly why it works, but it does!
I hope these tips help, as you think about what technology choice might be right for you and your company. If you want more advice on how to choose the right event management tools or how to build a business case for those tools, I am happy to help. Just let me know.
- Heather Haigler