Justification Toolkit 

Many travel budgets and training budgets have been slashed. So, regardless of the merits of a conference, you will have to justify the expense of attending. Here are some things you might want to consider:

  • Focus specifically on what you will bring back to the organization as return for the investment.
  • Offer to prepare and deliver a short presentation with Q&A to your colleagues to share what you learned. That way others on your team will receive the benefits of your attendance, too.
  • Share the speaker handouts with your colleagues. As an attendee, you have unlimited access to materials posted by speakers.
  • If you are working to maintain your Certified Relocation Professional (CRP®) or Global Mobility Specialist (GMS™) designations, remind your supervisor that attendance at the Conference automatically provides 15 recertification hours. This is a great way to fulfill your recertification requirements that is less expensive than registering for separate conferences and involves less time away from the office.
  • Be ready with a plan that shows who will cover for you while you are attending the Conference.
  • Be sure to check out the registration page where all the various rates are listed to see if you qualify for any of the lower rates or discounts.

How to Justify Conference Attendance: ROI

As a manager, how do you propose any allocation of resources in your organization? You need to understand two components of good business decisions:

  • Expense (the “investment”)
  • Return on Investment (ROI)

This article provides some easy-to-use tools to help you calculate the investment and identify your return.

 

Understanding Your Meeting Expenses

Meeting expenses are affected by a number of factors. Before you can even begin to justify the expenses, you need to calculate what those expenses are. To do so, use the following Expenses Worksheet to develop a cost estimate for attending your selected conference.


Expenses Worksheet

Expense

Guideline

Cost

Conference Registration

 

$

Pre & Post-Conference Class Registration, if applicable

Optional

$

Flight

Try a Web travel service to get a quick estimate

$

Lodging

Make sure to take advantage of conference rates

$

Transportation: Airport to Hotel and back

Shuttle service or rail service are usually less expensive than a taxi.

$

Mileage Reimbursement

Driving to the conference or to the airport for your flight? Use Mapquest to calculate distances, then multiply miles by 50 cents/mile (The U.S. IRS standard for 2010)

$

Parking Reimbursement

At airport for flight departure, or at hotel where conference is located

$

Food Per Diem

Remember that the Conference includes a reception with hors d’oeuvres on Wednesday evening, and lunches on Thursday and Friday.

$

Subtotal

$

Total Number of Employees Going

 

= total expenses

$

 


Understanding the Benefits

Let’s face it. Many benefits from Conference attendance are hard to quantify. For example, experts agree that the top benefit of conference attendance is networking. Where else can you find so many industry contacts facing the same issues as your organization? Are there solutions you’re not aware of?

Although networking is undoubtedly the most important aspect of a conference, it is also the toughest for which to quantify any value.

On the other hand, if an employee came to you and said, “I want you to fund me for $4,000 and I don’t know what it’ll do for you,” then you would likely scoff at the offer…and maybe even mumble a few colorful jibes about his or her suggestion.

When you propose a conference for approvals, don’t focus on how much you want to go; focus on what you will specifically bring back to the organization as payback for the investment.

Some specific details you’ll need to identify include:

  • Session content. What sessions have particular relevance to your organization’s work? Specifically identify:
      • Tools
      • Technologies
      • Processes
      •  Benchmarking
  • Service Provider contacts. Will the conference showcase services you use or are evaluating for potential future use? Is this an opportunity during which you’ll be able to compare competing services?
  • Best practices. Will there be sessions that will showcase best practices you are interested in incorporating into your program?
  • Networking.  Will you have opportunities to network with other industry professionals to discuss challenges and develop solutions to critical issues you are facing?
  • Training. Will there be workshops designed to teach attendees a special skill and/or help your team overcome current or future challenges?


Quantifying the Benefits

Although you might understand the benefits of the conference that interests you, your senior management may not. Therefore, to be most effective in justifying the conference, you need to clearly articulate the connection between your organization’s knowledge requirements and the conference program. DO NOT assume that they will be able to automatically make those distinctions.

To support this process, use the following Benefits Worksheet to help you focus on the benefits. Use whatever makes sense for your particular organization and conference, and omit the rest.

 

Benefits Worksheet

Your Organization’s Benefits

Specific Needs and the Conference Sessions & Workshops that Meet the Need

Networking Benefits

This conference will allow me to network with other professionals and service providers in the industry. I will be able to take the pulse of what is happening with regard to services, technologies, and policies, and hear ideas we weren’t even aware of.  I will be able to receive advice about specific challenges we are facing.

Current Programs

I will be able to benchmark our programs against other corporations’ programs to ensure that we are providing neither too many nor to few benefits and services.

Future Services Exploration

 This conference will allow me to network with industry experts and visit service provides to explore their offerings.  I will learn about new service offerings that have been developed in response to emerging trends.

Knowledge Management

I will be able to provide lessons learned and take-aways that will benefit the rest of the team.

 

It’s all in the Selling

After you have identified the specific knowledge benefits, you’ve provided both the expenses and benefits your manager needs to decide the value of your proposition.

Salespeople work the same way. They don’t let customers infer the value of what they are selling, they make that leap for them.

Sell your conference proposition!  Use this letter template.

 

This article was used with permission