Seven Steps to Budgeting Your Next Investigator Meeting
January 12, 2023 •Array Team
Investigator meetings are a critical stage in ensuring a clinical trial runs smoothly, gathers useful clinical data, and remains compliant. There are many important elements that contribute to a successful investigator meeting, from goal setting and content planning to engaging presentations and meaningful data analytics. But as with all meetings and events, the best IM's start with a well-thought out budget. Follow these seven simple steps to get your 2023 investigator meetings off on the right foot.
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1. Define your meeting goals.
Work with your stakeholders to establish clear, measurable goals for the meeting. Make sure goals that directly impact the success of the trial (such as understanding enrollment parameters) are prioritized over softer yet important goals such as making sure everyone enjoys themselves during the meeting. Frank discussions with stakeholders as to what's most important will not only help get the meeting budget on track, but give you the opportunity to provide your insight and expertise to create realistic expectations. A popular method of creating measurable goals is to define three objectives and key results. Keep in mind, an objective is a statement of what you want to achieve, while key results are the metric by which this will be measured.
2. Choose your meeting format.
There are three options for meeting formats, all of which are now tried and tested enough to provide positive results: in-person, hybrid, and virtual. Once you've chosen the format, you'll be able to define your must-haves, such as food, drink, speaker travel and accommodations, A/V needs, etc.
In-person investigator meetings provide excellent opportunities for engagement, both among attendees and between audience and speakers. People generally enjoy seeing their colleagues and partners in-person from time-to-time. However, the need for meeting space, accommodations, food/beverage, and in-room audiovisual can increase the budget needed to host an in-person meeting.
More flexible than in-person, hybrid meetings enable investigators to share a synchronous experience, whether in the room together or participating remotely. Hybrid meetings can reduce costs associated with in-person attendance, such as accommodations and food and beverage, as fewer people will be on-site. It also allows people to take part in a meeting despite travel or scheduling challenges, so your messages reach more people at once. However production costs can play a big role in the overall cost of a hybrid meeting. To make the most of a hybrid event both in terms of reaching your goals and keeping an efficient budget, then, make sure you choose a technology partner that will allow for a seamless experience. Technology for hosting hybrid meetings has come a long way in terms of engagement capabilities. You can now mimic the in-room experience for remote participants with the same interactive components of a live meeting. You'll also capture robust data from each remote audience member.
One way to significantly reduce overall meeting cost is to move the program to a virtual format. These can be an effective means for reducing costs such as airfare, hotel, ground transportation and food, none of which are needed without people in the room. And, while the speaker still receives a fee, it is usually lower than in-person fees because there is a lower time commitment and no out-of-pocket reimbursement.
3. Create your list.
Once you've chosen your meeting format, you can list expenses associated with it. This could include:
- Food and beverage costs (don't forget to include things like tablecloths, tableware, or anything else not provided by the venue or food vendor)
- Staff fees/compensation
- Speaker costs (travel, lodging, any reimbursement)
Working with a budget template can help you make sure that you haven't overlooked anything and have all budgetary information in one place. Since you'll continue to refer to the budget over time, this can be particularly helpful.
4. Look for savings.
With the cost of all meeting-related products and services roughly 25% higher than in previous years, there are few options for minimizing your budget. However, there are some things you can do to make sure you are getting the most for your money. For instance, get multiple quotes when selecting partners and vendors. Make sure you highlight the products and services some offer that others don't. Savings can come from simply asking for concessions from meeting spaces on items such as Wi-Fi and A/V. Another place to save on costs is by providing your attendees with secure digital resources vs. printed materials. (It's better for mother nature too!)
5. Always include a contingency plan.
There are so many outside forces that can impact a meeting---travel delays, weather, illnesses, and vendor issues. It's only logical, then, to include a contingency plan and related budget to make sure you are as ready as you can be for the unexpected.
6. Check it twice.
Once you have a budget established, review it again with stakeholders to make sure nothing is unaccounted for. Consider past meetings and recall where budgets were either over or underspent. Using this insight, adjust your budget accordingly.
Grab your Free Investigator Meeting Budgeting Template
7. Don't hide your budget in a drawer.
Your budget is a living, breathing document that changes as real costs become known. Continue to refer to your budget as planning progresses so you reallocate rather than overspend.
Investigator meetings require careful and comprehensive planning, particularly given their significance to the success of clinical trials. A highly detailed working budget can not only make sure the important element of cost doesn't get out of control, but can also help you make sure you haven't overlooked any other important meeting elements.