How to manage events efficiently in Borealis
September 5, 2022
As a Borealis user, you’ve undoubtedly needed to document engagements around various types of events. This month I’d like to offer some tips that can help you handle events – along with all the related communications and interactions – in Borealis more efficiently.
Whether you’re preparing for a public consultation, organizing a webinar, or attending a conference, here’s a look at some good practices to help you manage events in Borealis.
Taking the time to prepare thoroughly before an event will help you set (and achieve) meaningful goals, engage more effectively, and use available time and resources wisely. And don’t forget, the better you prepare, the less work you’ll have to do during and after the event!
- Create your Engagement Plan in advance and make sure the users who are involved with the event know its name, or even add it to their bookmarks. Your actual event will be entered as a single communication, but the Engagement Plan will be your main project management tool. It will help you keep everything in one place as you manage communications, tasks, and activities related to the event, your Engagement Plan will structure the data, making it easier, making it easier to monitor progress as things unfold.
- Create records in Borealis for individuals and organizations you expect to attend. If you are attending an event, check to see if the schedule is posted online. You can use that information to create records for speakers, registered attendees, groups, clubs, government representatives, activist groups, and more. If these records already exist in the system, check to be sure that they are complete and up to date. Be sure to link the records to your Engagement Plan.
- Conduct a stakeholder assessment. In some cases, it’s helpful to assess key stakeholders before and after a major event to determine whether your efforts worked as planned. You may also wish to conduct a baseline assessment for any new stakeholders you’ve added before the event.
- Create communications to document any internal meetings you have with colleagues or suppliers as you prepare for the event.
- Create discussion points for subjects that need to be addressed or important questions you need to ask during the event. This is a great way to prepare for a meeting or seminar.
- Create categorization you expect to use and familiarize yourself with the options. You might include choices like community relations, public affairs, project names, site locations, issues, and more. Preconfiguring these subjects will make it easier to quickly tag communications and other interactions during the event, since you won’t have to try to decide what categories to use on the spot. (For more information about customizing your data dictionaries, check out this article.)
- Enter planned communications to manage your schedule. You can export this information in iCal format and upload it to your calendar (or the calendar of the colleague you prepared it for).
- Prepare for conference sessions. If you’re planning to attend a conference or seminar, you can create planned communications with information about upcoming sessions, including speakers, notes, and important questions. (This information is usually available on the event’s website.) Prepare subjects you wish to discuss and tag your communications accordingly to be sure you get the most value from the conference.
- When booking meetings, you can upload important documents (like a PowerPoint presentation you want to share) or enter the information as a summary or description.
- Create distribution lists to simplify communication with groups of people you need to contact, meet with during the event, or follow up with afterward.
- Use Smart Communications to send targeted emails inviting stakeholders to attend an event, or to meet with you at a conference. Be sure to link the communications to your Engagement Plan. (If you don’t have the Smart Communications add-on, you can export the list of email addresses from your distribution list and send the message from Outlook, Gmail, or another email service of your choice.)
- Create tasks and activities for yourself and any colleagues who will participate, to be sure that everyone knows what they need to do and when.
- Create dashboards to track KPIs during and after the event. Make sure to link these to your Engagement Plan as related reports so you have everything in one place.
A note about reporting: One of my colleagues attended the NCEIF conference. She documented all her meetings and communications with prospective clients in the system and tracked her engagements from the mobile app. Her report makes it easy to see how many interactions she had with each contact, and also the number of interactions grouped by organization.
You might find a widget like this especially useful when you have a large delegation attending a conference. It can help you assess the information gathered and adjust your strategies over the course of the event. For example, it’s easy to see when several members of your team are spending a lot of time with the same organization, so you can divide your efforts to include others.
- Download and prepare the data import forms. It’s important NOT to delete any columns from the import templates, or the data upload will fail. If you’d like to customize the templates to display only the fields that are relevant for your event, you can do so by hiding any unnecessary columns. (Please note that red flags indicate required fields; you won’t want to hide those.) There are two data import forms that you may find particularly useful:
- The Discussion Points form should be given to the person who is responsible for taking notes at the event. They’ll use it to document comments, discussion points, and sentiments that come up.
- The Import Participants form is helpful if you need to track attendance at your event. You can prepopulate the form with information about registered attendees, then use CTRL+F to search for them by name and mark them present when they sign in for the event. And if someone attends who is not already on the list, simply add their information to the spreadsheet and Borealis will create an individual record for them when you import the data.
- Download and install the Borealis Mobile App so you can use it during the event.
All the work you did to get ready for the event is about to pay off! Now you can focus on engaging with your stakeholders, confident that you’re prepared to deal with any situations that arise.
- While you’re attending an event, you’ll be glad to have the Borealis Mobile Application in hand! Use the mobile app to:
- Enter communications on the spot to minimize oversights and keep your stakeholder data complete. (It’s particularly important to enter information in a timely manner if you’re attending the event as part of a delegation, to ensure that up-to-the-moment details are available to everyone on your team.) Be sure to link the communications to your Engagement Plan.
- Monitor dashboards to gauge your progress and adjust your strategies as needed.
- Take photos of people you meet with your smart phone (be sure to ask for their permission first) and add them to individual records to help you identify new contacts easily.
- Access your calendar to make sure you’re on schedule and stay informed about what’s coming up.
- Review a stakeholder’s latest interactions with your organization before meeting with them to be sure you’re aware of any recent developments (and avoid potentially unpleasant surprises).
- Create stakeholders from the contact list in your phone.
- Enter a new contact in the system by taking a photo of their business card. Borealis will create a record for the individual and automatically enter their contact information in the relevant fields.
- Use the voice-to-text feature to enter notes and details of discussions with stakeholders in the system. (Not having to type it on the tiny keypad or deal with autocorrect disasters will save you time… and a decent amount of frustration.)
- Fill out your data import forms as needed.
- Track attendance using the Participants form. If you pre-filled the form to include a list of registered attendees, you can use CTRL+F to search for them by name and mark them present when they sign in for the event. Add any attendees who are not already on the list to the spreadsheet and Borealis will create an individual record for them when you import the data. (If you aren’t using the ‘participants’ form, you can use a batch action to select multiple stakeholders in Borealis and change their status to ‘present’ or ‘absent’ in one step.)
- Document specific questions that are asked and any topics or issues that are raised. The Discussion Points form is a great way to document participation at a public consultation, open house, or similar event. You can use it to take notes during a Q&A, or quickly and easily record any interesting ideas or important statements that you’d like to follow up on later.
- Verify the information in your stakeholder’s records. Are they still working with same organization? Have they been promoted or transferred to a different department?
- Complete assigned tasks and log any necessary follow ups.
- Update your planned communications as they take place to ensure that the information you originally entered in the system reflects the actual experience. (Don’t forget to “Record” all planned communications.)
- You may wish to tag communications for verification so you – or a colleague at the office – can check that the data is complete and accurate. Since you’ll probably be entering information very quickly between meetings and conference sessions, you may not have time to validate them on the spot. You can set up a widget to identify the communications entered during the event, and create a task (for yourself or someone else) to verify the data after the event is over.
Congratulations! After the event is over, the hardest part is done. Now you just need to follow up to finalize the event in Borealis, review your processes and outcomes, and build on lessons learned.
- Review your data templates to be sure they are clean and ready to import, then upload them to Borealis.
- Update your Engagement Plan. Make sure that all fields are filled correctly and all related tasks are closed. You may choose to close the Engagement Plan at this time, or you might want to leave it open for a few weeks after the event as you continue to document and follow ups or additional communications.
- Reassess key stakeholders. After an important meeting, you may wish to reassess prominent people to determine whether their opinions have changed. You don't have to use the assessment section to track standard indicators like salience, power, and legitimacy; you can use it to track the level of support for different initiatives you’re working on, or to track education levels, if your organization is trying to raise awareness about a certain issue.
- Send a “thank you” email (or other appropriate message) to the people on your distribution list or from your engagement plan. You can do this with Smart Communications, or export the list of email addresses from your distribution list to send the message from Outlook, Gmail, or another email service of your choice. Be sure to link the communications to your Engagement Plan.
- Verify any communications you tagged to be sure that your data is complete and accurate.
- Review your engagements and discussion points and follow up as needed.
- Measure your performance: evaluate and report on KPIs. Depending on the type of event and your objectives for participating, you may want to report on:
- attendance rate
- number of questions that were raised
- number of new contacts made
- total number of communications related to the event
- follow-ups required
I hope you’ve found this information helpful! If you have questions, or if you would like support implementing any of these tips, please write to us through the Help Center.