Long lines killing your member service reputation? Kiosk Software may help!

Abstract management software, AKA, Call for Papers Software can help your events run smoother.

If you’ve seen one of those computer screens and keyboards at a grocery store or at the airport saying “Register Here!”, then you’ve seen kiosk software. In this article, we wanted to explore how Kiosk Software may be the light your looking for in reducing time in line at your events.

Kiosk software involves an application for a specific task (in this case, registration), and the security to keep them from using the computer for anything else (checking e-mail, playing Angry Birds, or altering the Control Panel).  Odds are that a computer in a kiosk is just running a browser; nothing more special about it, beyond the security provided by the Kiosk Software.

At this point, you may be thinking “Well, thanks, that’s good to know” or “maybe not”.

But I’m not seeing how this is going to help us and my association at my next conference.  Then at this point, you’re probably thinking “Oh, wait, you’re going to tell us, aren’t you?”

You got it!

Indeed, if you’ve got a large conference in front of you, Kiosk software is the way to go.

So you’ve sent out your Call for Papers long ago, have had every paper peer-reviewed (with your slick new system), and now it is time to get the conference going so everyone can share the fruits of their laborious research.

Imagine, then, an express lane at conference registration, where those who have no issues and just want to check in can walk up, type in their name and get their badge and conference schedule printed out for them.

Yep, you guessed it, that’s kiosk software at work.  What’s more, it doesn’t need to be just for the low-maintenance type of guest.  Rather than tie up some of your staff and volunteers to work walk-up registration, wouldn’t it be handy to have a computer kiosk for that?

The prospective attendee need only walk up, click click click, and they are registered and ready to go, while the kiosk computer is ready to handle the next guest. The printed badges from kiosk computers can be fairly advanced as well.  Leave behind the days of hand-writing names on “Hello! My Name Is” stickers (as well as the repeated jokes depending on whether the name writer is a fan of “The Princess Bride” or Eminem).  With the right kiosk solution, you can include bar codes on the badges, to help with lead retrieval or manage education session tracking.

The best part about kiosk software is that it allows you and your staff and volunteers to focus on other matters, making your conference more efficient, and generally more effective.  If this sounds good to you, and would like to know more, please feel free to contact us.

What No One Tells You About PCI Compliance

What No One Tells You About PCI Compliance

What No One Tells You About PCI Compliance

Let’s face it. Credit Cards are a normal part of everyday life for most individuals and business today. Adhering to PCI compliance should be a part of your associations business processes as well. In the Nonprofit community you typically have organizations who except credit cards by their members for dues, donations, events, orders, & training sessions etc. Further, Associations and their foundations are in the difficult position of having to stay afloat on a revenue stream that requires a steady stream of donations as well as sustaining members.

Unlike a strictly commercial entity, they experience the precarious balance of having to maintain private financial information while also being open to transparency over who is donating and how much.

This is one reason why the right database software is so crucial in helping non-profits meet and maintain their secure donor and member goals. The lynch pin of that security is typically the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). The PCI standard is technical as well as procedural, breaking down all the necessary components of sensitive card security into key areas:

Build and Maintain a Secure Network 

The standard enforces physical configuration such as firewalls and the most crucial practices network security such as password protection. For example, vendor supplied defaults for system passwords are not acceptable.

Protect Cardholder Data 

Cardholder data must be kept private by the highest secure means, in a secure vault or PCI compliant database. And, any transmission of such data across public networks requires effective encryption.

Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program 

Regularly maintained and updated anti-virus programs are essential, and any software, custom or third-party, that interfaces with the data must protect it to the highest standards.

Implement Strong Access Control Measures 

As personnel are often the most vulnerable point of attack with data intrusion, access must be controlled with the greatest measures in system-level security, sensitive data policies, and training. Access must be on a need-to-know basis and protected with both system permissions/access controls and with physical security such as RFID.

Regularly Monitor and Test Networks

All of the measures listed above require effective monitoring and regular tests of security processes.

Maintain an Information Security Policy

All security procedures must be effectively maintained, documented, and understood by personnel. In short, your Donors and Members of non-profit causes deserve the peace of mind knowing that their financial data is safe.

We have worked with hundreds of organizations who utilize our drafting tool, AutoDraft, who have taken the necessary steps to ensure compliance of members and donors valuable financial data. If you would like to talk to us about our experience with database & PCI compliance Contact us to learn more. Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

 

Are you still in the stone age before Abstract Automation Software?

 

Abstracts for Event Registration Software

In our minds, one of the more interesting things about technology is the phenomenon of “Once you get it, you need it, and must have it.”

You’d think it’d work the other way around, but it rarely does.  We see a new bit of technology, we think “Oh, that’s nice enough, but we don’t really need it,” and then when we finally break down and get it, we wonder how we lived without for so long.

Smartphones, cellular phones before that, computers before that; DVD players, heck, some of us are old enough to remember when microwaves were a luxury in the home.  But if someone were to try to take your cell phone away today, it’d be tempting to reply “Um, could you just take one of my pinkies instead?”

We bring this up because we think that many associations will feel much the same way about “Call for Papers” Abstract Management software in the future.

The first thought might be “is that really necessary?” but once you have it, well, you’ll wonder how you lived without for so long.

The value of good speakers who provide academic papers and speak at  association conferences cannot be overstated; they are invaluable for the viability and draw of your non-dues related income.

But the process can get to be  quite a burden for many associations, with so many steps involved that can be difficult to keep straight.

Here are few of the challenges we hear today:

  • Finding good presenters
  • Selecting the proper reviewers who are on various committees,
  • Segmenting a disparate Abstract Call for paper system not tied to the AMS to determine who has the right skill set
  • Scoring the Abstract Call for papers
  • Providing copies to your disparate volunteer based reviewers in hard copy
  • Sending out emails and setting up single-blind or double-blind readings (and just in general who reads what),
  • Coordinating responses (setting up online meetings)
  • Informing the authors of the approved papers
  • Scheduling sessions after the call is finalized and presenters are selected

What’s worse, it’s often like a crowded highway, in that one slight delay at the front leads to big delays down the road.

Now picture the process with the advantages of your own “Call for Papers” Abstract Management software.

You send out an e-mail from your current Association Management software to the potential or past authors, who then have a web site link location on your web site for submitting their work or presentation.

That same web site (which can be tied directly to your association management software database) will then allow peer, volunteer, or committee selected reviewers to log in and read the submissions, with your single- or double-blind systems already built in.

Peer reviews can be posted instantly, and reports can be made with easy access to the number of submissions received, number of submissions accepted or rejected, and number of submissions awaiting review.

Because the system is tied to your member database the system already has the author’s information quickly populated upon log in, demographic information filled in upon entry and could potentially inform the presenters of their paper’s status all becomes a one-click process.

As you can see, an automated streamlined process takes a lot of the hassle out of an old manual process and automates the mundane not only for the staff but your members/donors.

What’s more, many Abstract software packages used today to handle the call for papers can also accommodate conference organization, such as setting dates/times for the conference sessions, informing authors of those dates and accepting their payments for attendance.

In addition, Abstract Management software will even be able to collect the abstracts of the papers and provide them in a written report for conference program printing.

Indeed, you can probably live without this type of software, but once you see what it can do for you, you’ll wonder why you ever tried.

If you have any questions or would like to get started on finding the right software for your conference management needs, please feel free to contact us.