Let’s say you’re buzzing through the mountain of urgent tasks that have to be completed for the National Postal Service’s inaugural ‘NAPEC’ (National Annual Philately Expo & Conference) which is due to begin in just under two months.

Barring the final registration of attendees, the conference part of the event is finalized, from the venue to the sound system, the décor, the sponsor branding, the refreshment vendors …

… and in particular, the conference speakers! It’s all a bit of a blur now, but you remember how the ‘call for papers’ process was a lot crazier than you had anticipated. Once the invitation went public, anyone who knew anything about stamps decided to submit their own unique session proposal and responses were flooding in. It was your job to sort them. First you followed up on applicants who hadn’t supplied all the relevant information, or those who’s abstract wasn’t clear. Then you forwarded each complete proposal to The Professor of Philately who reviewed the proposals and decided who should be asked to speak. Then it was back to you, emailing the successful applicants…

Keeping track of the vast number of proposals and making sure each one found its way through the process was difficult and excessively time consuming to say the least. And it still bothers you that too many applicants fell through the gaps at various stages … many of those with great ideas that didn’t quite fit the prescribed theme weren’t even thanked for their input after their proposal was dropped.

Surfacing from these swirling memories now, your mind is back on the immediate task of checking on the NAPEC brochure advertisers: “Time to chase up those missing payment notifications!” As you’re scanning through your emails, your eye catches one from ‘The Professor’. The subject line reads:

Conference theme: ‘Obscure rarities from the turn of the Millennium’. Speakers t.b.a. at conference.

“That’s not this year’s theme!” you tell your laptop. “When did he send this?” Reading through the email, the penny drops … he wants to announce next year’s conference speakers a whole year in advance! That leaves you seven weeks and three working days to run the entire ‘Call for Papers’ marathon again — and still get the Expo off the ground in time! Since your events company is the best there is, you’re just going to have to suck it up, get your running shoes on and finish this task in record time!

What you need is a ‘workflow’ — an automated system that will lick the majority of the work for you by making tasks flow. (Fortunately you chanced across this ‘workflow’ concept a couple of days ago.) Subscribing to the service, you’re free to download templates which you can very easily customize to your specific needs. In the extensive template library is one called ‘Call for papers’.

With minimal effort, you customize the template for NAPEC’s purposes and you publicize it in the usual way, only this time, rather than an email address, you include a link. Wherever the applicant finds it, he is directed to an online application form that he fills in. This form cannot be submitted until all the required fields are completed, so you’re saved the irritation and the delay of having to ask for details that the applicant forgot to include.

Nothing gets left off the application and abstract submission.
Nothing gets left off the application and abstract submission.

Once an applicant has submitted a form, The Professor receives a notification email that includes the entire content of the application form. Clicking on the link at the bottom of the email, he’s shown all the relevant details again in an online form where he is asked whether he wishes to accept or decline the proposal.

The Professor may decide to delay choosing conference speakers until after the abstract submission deadline has passed. Whenever he’s ready, he logs into the service and browses through all the applications in a spreadsheet format. He’ll activate those applications that fit the bill, accept each winning proposal with a mouse-click and hit ‘Save’.

The Professor hits ‘Continue’ to activate the application he wants to review and accept or decline.
The Professor hits ‘Continue’ to activate the application he wants to review and accept or decline.

At that point the applicant is automatically notified of his successful proposal. Once ‘The Professor’ is satisfied that all the speaking slots have been filled, he’ll go through the remaining applications, activate them in succession and hit ‘Proposal Declined’. The unsuccessful applicants are then similarly emailed to let them know that their application was not successful, and to thank them for their time and interest. (If all that is too technologically advanced for the Professor to handle, you could always export all the submitted applications into a standard spreadsheet, print them off and have the Professor go through them ‘old-school style’.)

Successful and unsuccessful applicants alike receive personalized emails.
Successful and unsuccessful applicants alike receive personalized emails.

In your head, you’re summing up the most obvious benefits:

  • I’ll save Time — no need to chase incomplete applications or search for missing emails.
  • I’ll save Data — proposals won’t get lost as they’re securely stored and viewed in one central place.
  • I’ll save Face — correspondence is maintained with all applicants, regardless of the outcome.
  • I’ll make Money — by dramatically reducing your workload in the mundane tasks, you’ve revolutionized your profit margin!

With the stress of that task effectively neutralized, you start to wonder how many other tasks you could similarly automate! And now you have time to focus on showcasing your organizational and creative talents — something to WOW the expo attendees, fix NAPEC in your calendar and get yourself on the conference managers’ map!

If you need to organize a crazy conference, then copy this workflow solution directly into your Kotive account and get started for free.

Call for papers
Keep track of the vast number of conference speaker proposals and make sure each one finds its way through the process.

Learn more in our step-by-step guide →

The workflow is automatically copied into your account when you select it. Want to make one or two changes to fit your situation better? No problem!

Written by  Stephen Bankart