Summit ’14: Planning, Budget, and Return on Investment

by Kevin Cuddihy on 18 December 2013

Guest post by Paul Mueller, 2014 Summit Program Advisory Committee Chair

Deciding whether to attend the STC Summit can be a complex decision. Is the Summit worth your investment of time and money? How can you present a strong business case to your manager? As a manager, should you budget for this expense for your team?

I have been on different sides of the table concerning Summit planning, budgeting, and making the case for why attending the Summit is a good investment. As an attendee, I often had to ask my manager for the money to go and to present a business case for how it would be beneficial to the company. Once I moved into management, I had to present the case for why members of our information development team should attend the Summit and show how it was worth the investment. As an independent consultant, I now weigh the costs of the Summit and the time away from billable work against the potential benefits.

For me, deciding to attend the Summit and justifying the investment is straightforward: If you get one idea and apply that idea to improve your content, the Summit is worthwhile. That one idea can also permeate throughout your team and raise the quality and value of the content created to a new level. Whether it is a new approach or a new process, the team will often save time, which saves money. It could also be a new technique or implementation method that is viewed more positively by your customers. Whatever it is, that one idea can make the entire Summit worthwhile from the company’s perspective.

In addition, the networking contacts are priceless, and often those contacts provide an extra, overlooked value to us and our employers. When I have a problem, I now know an expert to call and ask for help. I also make contacts with people with whom I can share and discuss ideas to create a better product for my customers. As an independent consultant, I also often receive at least one new job from attending the Summit. The networking opportunities offered by the Summit are unmatched within our industry, with 800 attendees and many industry-leading exhibitors and speakers.

Finally, I have found that after the Summit, I am more motivated and energized. The investment in me and my career, either from the company or from myself, feels good and boosts my productivity. That feeling alone makes the Summit a valuable experience! Add this benefit to the new ideas and networking opportunities, and the decision whether to attend the STC Summit is clear.

The Summit offers the most diverse program in the United States for the technical communication industry with more than 80 selected sessions and additional sessions provided by our exhibitors. The program helps you learn about what’s new and it helps you learn at the level of detail you need. The program includes sessions for those new to a topic as well as advanced sessions for more experienced technical communicators.

I look forward to seeing you in Phoenix and talking about technical communication. Sign up on today to track the program details, connect with speakers and other attendees, and let us know you’re coming!. You can also watch and use the #stc14 hashtag on Twitter to join the conversation.

[Editor's note: Be sure to check out the Summit website for a sample memo to send to your supervisor as well as an executive summary to help make your case!]

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