In 2011, we started talking with a big medical congress, ECNP, about their work on their annual event.

To coordinate their work, they were manipulating a lot of Word and Excel documents, sending them to each other as email attachments, using change tracking to keep up with updates. And they ended up with hundreds of pages to print out a few days before the event. And since some parts of those coordination documents required last minute changes on site, they had to retrieve all the paper copies and fix them manually before handing them out again, hoping that everyone had the same information.

Printing out those documents was very time consuming and error prone. Paper was hard to manipulate and sift through in high stress situations on events. And not everyone needed all of the information, so relevance was also an issue.

We saw a better way. We started working with them and focused on the main chapter of their coordination document, chapter 4, which was a list of all the tasks that people on the team needed to do, along with the locations where they needed to be, who was responsible and so on. We automatically extracted all the information from these Word documents into a database. And then we built an iPad application to browse that information. Every team member was equipped with a tablet and overnight, they could all browse the same information as in the Word document from their device. This was the birth of the Chapter4 application.

The first version of Chapter4

No more wondering if everybody had the same information: only one source of truth.

No more sifting through tens of pages of irrelevant data: they could filter the information to see only what was relevant to them.

No more time spent printing out documents or fixing them manually: changes could be made in the Word document, information could be extracted again, and everyone had access to the updates directly.

In addition, we even built the application to be able to store all that information directly on devices, so that even if team members lost their internet connection, they could keep working all the same.

It worked great, it made their work easier and less stressful, and they used the Chapter4 application every year for 10 years.

In 2021, we decided to go back to the drawing board and make the system even better. First of all, Chapter4 still had to be installed individually on every device, which made the deployment process uselessly complex. Second of all, it only worked on Apple iPads, which limited the ability of the team to share the information with third party providers who didn’t necessarily have tablets, but had smartphones, including Android smartphones. And finally, Chapter4 made it easier to browse information during the event, but all the collaboration work still had to be done in Word and Excel documents before the event.

So we created Synkro. We rebuilt the system from scratch so that it works on every device, Android or iOS, smartphone or tablets, and even web browsers. We also turned it into a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) system, so that any user could install the app directly from their device’s App Store, and start using it right away. And by making the app available on web browsers, we also made it possible for people building the list throughout the year to collaborate directly via Synkro. No need to fumble with Word or Excel documents anymore. And we also added a couple of highly requested features like document management.

Which leads us to today. ECNP is still happily using Synkro every year. New conferences, congresses and Professional Congress Organizers (PCO) like MCI are joining us. So how about you?