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| Written by Marie Johnson, CMP

Events > Forward — Understanding Cvent’s Access Portal

To meet industry demands, Cvent is transitioning to a new reporting framework and retiring their legacy system. It is important to understand the benefits, timeline, and the impact Access Portal will have on your organization and SMM program. In this episode, our host, Jeff Naue, Special Projects Marketing Lead, talks in detail with Lisa Palmeri, VP and Principal Consultant of Intent Strategy Group.

With the pivot to virtual and hybrid events, the SMM workflow needs to support new data capture and process requirements. Also, transitioning to Access Portal requires system downtime so organizations are taking advantage when their volume is lower; and therefore, the migration will cause less disruption.  

Lisa Palmeri is an impassioned leader with 20 years’ experience establishing consulting and professional service organizations (PSOs). She is dedicated to advancing the Meetings & Event (M&E) industry. Lisa’s team of ISG consultants helps clients develop and implement their SMM strategy, manage large scale SMM and technology implementations, and find the best solutions for their enterprise event strategy needs. Learn more about Lisa by following her on LinkedIn

Join us for a conversation with Lisa to learn more about transitioning or migrating to Cvent’s Access Portals.

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What is Cvent’s Access Portal and what makes this upgrade different than past product releases?

Cvent Access Portals is a consolidated, self-service Meeting & Event (M&E) hub housing an enhanced Meeting Request Form (MRF), new reporting, and a lot of area for customized content. It is basically an enhanced website where all your meeting and event activities will happen. It is accessible by anyone in the organization, they don’t have to be logged-in Cvent users, they are instead created as guest users and are able to see information on meetings and events like within a knowledge center. They can access their meeting request forms (MRF). If they are accessing reports that someone has made available to them, they are now called published reports which are replacing parked reports. There is an integrated event calendar for the organization, so every time you submit a request form, it generates a record that goes into the event calendar and you can see those events in real-time. And, as I said before, some of that custom content in the knowledge center can be things like meeting and event policy, SOPs, toolkits, supplier lists – you name it, you can post it.

Its components include:

  • Customizable Website – M&E Knowledge Center
  • Enhanced Meeting Request Form
  • Stakeholder Access to Published Reports
  • Integrated Event Calendars (From submitted MRFs)
  • Custom Content & Resources (Unlimited pages for policies, SOP’s, supplier lists, toolkits, etc.)

What makes this upgrade different from previous Cvent product updates is the complexities introduced when moving MRFs and their associated data from one place to another. This is more than just a cosmetic upgrade. The data architecture on the backend is changing which could impact access to and reporting of legacy data. It is important to pay attention to how you are moving things; what you are moving; or maybe what you are starting from scratch with so that you don’t accidentally overwrite existing data or delete existing data by mistake.

These migrations require system downtime depending on the chosen approach to migrating and may require Cvent Application Support work on the backend of the system to facilitate. It can be as little as a few days or extend to a few weeks. So you need to carefully plan for transitioning and communicating with stakeholders that the system is going to be down for a period of time.

Why should I consider upgrading to Access Portals?

The most important reason to upgrade to Access Portals is that there is going to come a time when you do not have a choice. This is Cvent’s latest platform; it will house the current reporting; Meeting Request Forms, and replaces the current requester website. All of those features are being phased out. 

The benefits of doing it, not just because you are forced to do it, include:

  • One-Stop-Shop for all M&E activities: request forms, reports, calendars, and custom content 
  • Mobile responsive, modern look and feel
  • Highly customizable branding and unlimited pages of content
  • Compliant with the latest web security standards
  • Built on the FLEX framework with all the new enterprise features
  • Supports global expansion (future state, multi-lingual UI)

Along with new reporting features. The MRF has also undergone a complete overhaul in the new Access Portals framework. Some of the key enhancements to the form include:

  • Enhanced design and logic “smart form” user experience
  • Five levels of sub-questions; layered data capture and minimizes entry of irrelevant fields
  • MRF submission via phones and tablets
  • Refreshes to the last field not the top of the page
  • Pre-population of default answer values and help text displayed in answer responses
  • Includes basic budget entry
  • Future state and decision tree to direct the requester to the applicable intake process (multiple MRFs)

When should a company plan to migrate to access portals? What do they need to do to prepare for an Access Portal migration project?

There are a few considerations in thinking about the timing of when to go forward. Because migrating to Access Portals requires downtime, many organizations are taking advantage of the current situation during COVID when fewer meetings and events are being registered or sourced in the system. The migration will cause less disruption in the next few quarters than later when event volume picks up again. That’s one reason.

The other reason is that many companies have already pivoted to virtual events and hybrid events. There are new fields needed in MRF’s and the workflow in Cvent to support new data capture and process requirements. Since you need to make those changes in the system anyway, why not just do it in the new framework? If you make those changes now, you’ll have to do it again. When the changes are significant, meaning adding numerous fields, changing existing fields’ answer values, adding statuses, event management roles, and so on, then it makes better sense to make the updates in the new framework, rather than investing time/money into features imminent for phase-out.

There are also three key “sunset” dates to keep in mind when determining when to migrate:

  1. Classic reporting will be sunset 12/15/20 which means that after this date, users cannot create any new reports using the classic framework. You may want to start by rebuilding your frequently saved reports first prior to launching the larger migration project.
  2. Parked reports and report groups will phase out on 6/30/21.
  3. Legacy MRFs and requester websites are currently scheduled to sunset on 12/31/21.

All these dates are subject to change by Cvent. I want to stress we are just communicating these dates on their behalf.  However, the other important consideration is that these projects are taking on average 3-5 months to complete. So you want to plan ahead when funds for the project can be secured and resources such as your Cvent System administrator, project manager, IT and Communications support, and other key system user stakeholders are available to support it.

One final consideration, if your current usage of Cvent requires MRFs or Requester Websites in languages other than English, then we recommend waiting to migrate until multi-language MRFs and Portals are released. These are scheduled for release between late 2020 and the first half of 2021.

How does migrating to Access Portals work?

There are numerous ways to migrate to Access Portals. At ISG, we have identified 3 of the most common ways to manage the upgrade. 

Option 1 migrates a live MRF with all its associated and historical data into the new framework.  The legacy MRF and historical data are essentially “lifted and shifted” into a new Access Portal.

Option 2 migrates a copy of the legacy MRF into a new Access Portal, rather than the ‘live’ form itself to start with a new data table. This option could include migrating historical data if desired.

Option 3 is a build new approach whereby a brand new MRF and Portal are configured from scratch. No data is migrated, and as option 2, a new data table is initiated with the new form.

There are pros and cons to each of these options as well as risks, downtime, project durations, and cost considerations. ISG provides clients with a thorough analysis of their current Cvent account conditions and offers consultation around the best migration approach based on its findings. Determining the right migration approach to deploy is the single most important decision to ensuring a successful migration.

What costs are involved in migrating to Access Portals?

There are a few types of costs that could be incurred in migrating.  First, there are two versions of AP’s available, Basic and Premium. ISG helps clients understand the difference between the two versions so they can consult their Cvent Account Manager to determine if any additional product fees apply.

ISG can guide clients on anticipated costs associated with the various migration approaches to ensure adequate project funding. ISG consulting support is quoted based on the scope of work and project duration, on a case-by-case basis. Depending on the migration approach chosen, there may be some Cvent Professional Services fees involved and Cvent would quote those and give them a good estimate of the project overall.

Why should an organization engage ISG and not just go directly to Cvent?

As I mentioned at the beginning, this is not a plug and cookie-cutter approach. There are several ways to migrate. There are pros and cons to all of them. There is risk involved. The bottom line is that ISG knows the technology, we understand your business requirements, and most importantly, we’ll have your back.

We can also manage the soft side of the project; the communication planning, the transition planning, educating users and stakeholders on the new platform. We’ve got the expertise to handle the complexities from beginning to end. There are a lot of technical details to this project, including how to prevent data loss or overwrite, minimizing downtime, and optimizing the use of new features and enhancements. We want this to be a positive experience. It is not just “lifting and shifting,’ it is enhancing your use of Cvent. And finally, knowing the sandbox and testing regions, versus production where the application runs. These are nuances only a Cvent expert will understand to be able to support those technical requirements.

ISG provides any or all the following services supporting Access Portals migrations:

  • Comprehensive Cvent account analysis
  • Recommendation for the best migration approach
  • Reporting for data retention/contingency
  • Project cost and timeline estimating
  • Project management and execution
  • Coordination with Client team(s) and Cvent (if required)
  • Transition, Training and Communications strategies and planning
  • Access Portal design and configuration
  • Technical configurations and testing in Testing (Sandbox) and Production environments

How does migrating to Cvent Access Portals move the events industry forward?

Access Portals is the latest Cvent platform iteration upon which many new future features on their product roadmap will be released including Instant Book Simple Meetings, 1:1 Appointment Scheduler, Quick Budget Creation, and more. Being on the most current version of a meetings management platform promotes an optimal user experience, effectively leverages branding guidelines, and positions the organization for expanded system usage (additional modules, features, geographies, etc.). Plus, it elevates the careers of industry professionals who will be adapting the newest cutting-edge technologies to move their organizations forward. To me, the way to move the industry forward is to be forward-thinking and forward-looking by embracing new technologies.

Learn more about Intent Strategy Group (ISG), our consulting services, or request a demo of Cvent’s Access Portal. To stay up-to-date on M&IW’s efforts on safety initiatives and protocols for returning to in-person events, be sure to turn into our Events > Forward Podcast Series. In each episode, we interview subject matter experts on relevant and timely topics. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.