Tips to Justify Attendance at SLAS2016
With travel and training budgets scarce and often difficult to justify, making a case to management to attend an event like SLAS2016 can be a challenge in most organizations. Rather than just submitting a request, consider making your case by adding context and explaining the extent of benefits — for both you and your organization — you will receive by participating. Be sure to focus first on the benefits and ROI, rather than the cost.
Keep your employer's priorities in focus, and do not presume that your employer will automatically recognize what appears to you as intrinsic value. Be as specific as possible, and give examples.
Here are some helpful tips to consider when making your business case.
Consider what matters to your employer:
- What current issues have your lab, department or organization been struggling with? Do any of the SLAS2016 presentations or exhibits address these issues? Do any of the exhibitors offer potential solutions?
- Can you find just one idea that might increase productivity, elevate experimental data quality, reduce lab process cycle times, or enable experimentation that's otherwise currently impossible?
- Has your employer been considering new equipment? One-on-one feedback from front-line product developers and experienced users attending SLAS2016 can greatly inform your purchasing decision.
- How does your employer compare to similar organizations? Which of your competitors or industry leaders will be sharing their perspective and achievements at SLAS2016? What can your company learn from them?
- How would your performance improve and how would your organization benefit if your network of professional contacts expanded to include experts from around the world?
- Is your employer hungry for new talent? Do SLAS2016 attendees and exhibitors offer the resources your employer is interested in recruiting?
Consider what matters to you:
- Compromises can become dealmakers when budgets become tight. For example, you may offer to use personal vacation time or frequent flier miles to reduce your employer's investment and enable your participation at SLAS2016.
Examples of Appropriate Rationales
- SLAS2016 will help me to better understand [x] and thus improve our company's performance at [y].
- SLAS2016 gives me the opportunity to meet experts and professionals from different parts of the world and different industries, exchange ideas, and learn about different methods and techniques. These experiences will enhance our company's current mission and goals in these ways: [x, y, z].
- SLAS2016 will keep me current with new technology trends and techniques that I will bring back to the organization and share with my co-workers.
- I will network with others to enhance our company's profile and gain appreciation for our talent and achievements.
- Attending SLAS2016 will increase my knowledge of [x]. I will learn about breakthrough research, hear the newest theories and see examples of their application. I can directly incorporate this knowledge into [y].
- To be productive, it is necessary to stay current with new technology, applications and ideas. Attending SLAS2016 will allow me to ensure our company is up to date in the areas of [x].
Examples of Inappropriate or Incomplete Rationales
- It will help me do my job better. (How?)
- I can benefit by attending SLAS2016. (How can your employer benefit?)
- My co-workers can benefit by attending SLAS2016. (How?)
- SLAS2016 the place to be. (Why?)
- I know someone who went to SLAS and liked it. (How did his or her company benefit?)
- The SLAS2016 program looks good. (Which presentations in particular apply to your employer's best interests?)
- We have attendance to one conference in the budget. (Why? How does participation outweigh the savings of not spending the budgeted amount?)
- I'd love to visit San Diego in February. (Registration discounts and travel programs make SLAS2016 very affordable.)
Sample Request Memo
From January 23-27, more than 5,000 laboratory scientists and technologists will convene in San Diego, CA, for SLAS2016. I have carefully evaluated the conference agenda as well as the list exhibiting companies, and feel that if given the opportunity to attend, I can accomplish a great deal that will benefit our organization.
I believe these presentations would be of particular interest and value to our company and priorities:
[Insert list of presentations here, and note how each may relate to a current or upcoming project at your organization. Representative Special Sessions appear below; the complete program will be published by early October 2015]:
- In-depth tracks on Advances in Bioanalytics, Biomarkers and Diagnostics; Assay Development and Screening; Automation and High Throughput Technologies; Cellular Technologies; Drug Target Strategies; Informatics and Micro/Nano Technologies
- Special Session on Biobanking: Evolving from Small Molecules to Biological Molecules
- Technology to Propel Science: GNF Automation Tour and Seminar
Personal contact with these exhibitors would allow hands-on access to their latest technology and one-on-one discussions with the product developers.
[Insert your list of exhibitors here, and note why contact with each may be of interest. The list of current exhibitors can be seen here.]
- Company A, Company B, Company C explore alternatives to current pipette tips
- Company D, Company E, Company F compare LIMS reporting accessories
- Company G talk with staff scientists about our validation challenges with their machine
Including applicable registration discounts and travel assistance programs from SLAS, I estimate the total cost for participation to be [$ amount]. This is based on round-trip coach airfare, [#] hotel nights, transportation to and from airports, conference registration, and a [$ amount] per diem for [#] days.
I am highly motivated by this opportunity, and hope you will agree that it promises a meaningful return on our investment. I will follow up with you next week to further discuss the possibility of my participation at SLAS2016.
In the meantime, more details are available at SLAS2016. Thank you for considering this request.