Thinking of using free abstract management software? It might be enticing, but consider the following:
- Free software almost always has to be installed. If you install it yourself, it costs time. If you have someone to do it for you, it costs money. Either way, installations can fail for reasons beyond your control. Delays may or may not be what a conference organizer can afford.
- Free software rarely comes with reliable, fast support. Even if you get it installed without any problems, you’re still looking at configuring, maintaining, and troubleshooting it without much assistance.
- Free software often comes with limited functionality. If you find yourself in need of additional features, you either have to modify the software yourself or upgrade to the paid version. (This is known as a “freemium” model, where the free version is really just a gateway to the paid version.)
- Updates for installed software come in the form of releases. In order to stay current with new features and bug fixes, not only do you have to regularly track releases, you also have to apply them.
Paid and hosted software avoids all these issues. There’s nothing to install, nothing to maintain, and support is readily available whenever you need it.
At first glance free is attractive, but be careful: free can end up costing you a lot.