A.K.A. How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Automation
Let me share an alternate perspective: automation is essential to success as a conference manager.
You can focus on either the necessary menial work or you can focus on making your event as successful as it can be. You don’t have time to do both.
Relying on automated processes is one of the most important things you can do to set you — and your conference — up for success.
I remember well what managing events was like before I learned to love automation. My mentality was work harder, not smarter. It had to be—there was a ton of work that needed to be done to get the event to happen. Here's an example, my husband Cory would get off work after a long day and then come to my office to help me with all the manual work that needed to be done. He's read off all the registrations people had faxed in and I would input into an Excel spreadsheet, so I had all our registration information in one place. It was totally manual, and it was a crazy waste of time.
Here's another one. I used to have all our session and speaker in a spreadsheet (because where else was I going to keep it?). Any time something changed (which happened on a near daily basis), I had to update the spreadsheet myself and then send it off to my web guy who would update the website. I'd constantly be trying to figure out what was the most recent spreadsheet to update. And of course, there were always discrepancies between the website and my spreadsheets and trying to figure out what version was right.... It was a huge waste and incredibly stressful.
There is only so much time in the day. You can either spend that time on menial-but-necessary paper pushing, or you can spend it focused on the strategically improving your event through your special and rare combination of skills.
It's probably clear what the better use of our time is.
But the only way to focus on the strategic as an event manager is to automate those necessary-but-menial tasks.
Your organization's marketing and sales departments figured this out a few years ago, which is why they rely on things like Salesforce or Marketo or Hubspot to automate much of their day to day work. That software all has the same purpose—put all your information in one place so there is visibility and it can be accessed by whomever needs to access it. Instead of having data living in multiple places and having to transfer data from one place to another to another (from a fax to a spreadsheet to a website), the data is inputted into the automation platform. It lives there, it's always up-to-date, and it can be sent whenever it needs to with next-to-no effort.
It’s amazing how something so unsexy fill your heart with so much joy.
What work is a good candidate for automation at events? Registration and content (speaker / sessions / sponsors) are the obvious examples. Anything that involves the manual collection of data and then acting off that data can be done better by software.
Look at Hubb for a shining example of how automation can help. Hubb is an event content management automation platform. All the work you're doing to collect, manage, and market your event's content can be done far more easily and in 2/3rds less time with Hubb. The automation that’s at the heart of Hubb saves you so much time you can get your event to market about a month earlier.
Want to fall in love with automation yourself? Start with the low-hanging fruit. Look for where you're spending the most time and try to automate that. It's okay to take baby steps. Once you get the hang of automating your repetitive tasks, other opportunities will become obvious, and you'll be on your way to becoming a strategic planner instead of a task manager.