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Justification Toolkit

Conference & Exhibition

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A new reality is rapidly unfolding before you. In these critical times, achieving effective results demands a paradigm shift that can only be realized with exposure to new thoughts and ideas. CFMA’s 2017 Annual Conference & Exhibition will help you discover and implement ideas that deliver results. It will train your mind to search for innovative solutions. It will provide opportunities to make valuable connections with other construction financial professionals and suppliers who have the solutions you need. And, it will prepare you for the long road ahead. In just four days. Since you’ve found this page, you probably recognize the value of attending the Annual Conference so we’d like to offer some assistance to help you convince your supervisor and organization to approve the costs. Enter the Justification Toolkit – everything you need to present your business case. There’s even a letter template which you can simply fill out and drop off with your supervisor. Easy.

The Justification Toolkit Includes:

General Tips

Many travel and training budgets have been reduced drastically, and some companies are experiencing severe financial problems. Which means that regardless of the merits of a conference, you’ll probably need to justify the expense. So here are some things you might want to consider:

  • Focus on what you will specifically bring back to the organization as return for the investment.
  • Offer to prepare and deliver a short presentation and Q&A to your colleagues to share what you learned. That way others in your company or department will gain the benefits of your attendance, too.
  • Share the speaker handouts with your colleagues. As an attendee, you have unlimited access to materials posted by speakers.
  • If you are working to obtain or maintain your designation, remind your supervisor that this is a great way to earn CPE credits and is less expensive than registering for separate conferences. It also requires less time away from the office.
  • Be ready with a plan that shows who will cover for you while you are attending the conference.
  • Be sure to check out the registration page where the various rates are listed—the sooner you register, the more you can save!

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Calculate ROI of the Conference

How to Justify Conference Attendance
As a manager, how do you propose any allocation of resources in your organization? You need to understand two components to make decisions:

  • Expense (the “investment”)
  • Return on Investment

This section provides some easy-to-use tools to help you calculate the investment and identify your return.

Understanding Your Conference Expenses

Conference expenses are affected by a number of factors. Before you can even begin to justify conference expenses, you need to calculate what those expenses are. To do so, use the following Expenses Worksheet to develop a cost estimate for attending CFMA's 2016 Annual Conference & Exhibition.

Expenses Worksheet




Conference Registration


$1,295 for members, $1,645 for non-members


Try a Web travel service to get a quick estimate



CFMA rates with hotel

$229 per night plus $29 resort fee and taxes

Transportation: Airport to Hotel

Taxi? Car rental?

$65 (one way)

Transportation: Hotel to Airport

Taxi? Car rental?

$65 (one way)

Mileage Reimbursement

Driving to conference? To the airport for your flight?


Parking Reimbursement

At airport for flight departure, or at hotel where conference is located

complimentary hotel parking

Food Per Diem

See IRS guidelines for conference locale rates. Remember, most days at the conference include breakfast, lunch & breaks




total number of employees going


= total


Understanding the Benefits

Let’s face it: many benefits from conference attendance are hard to quantify. For example, many experts agree that the top benefit of conference attendance is networking value. Where else can you find so many industry contacts facing the same issues as your organization? Are there solutions you’re not aware of? Although networking is undoubtedly the most important aspect of a conference, it is also the toughest for which to quantify any value.

On the other hand, if an employee came to you and said, “I want you to fund me for $4,000 and I don’t know what it’ll do for you,” then you would likely scoff at the offer.

When you propose a conference for approval, don’t focus on how much you want to go; focus on what you will specifically bring back to the organization as payback for the investment. Some specific details you’ll need to identify include:

  • Session content. What sessions have particular relevance to your organization’s work?
  • Tools
  • Technologies
  • Processes
  • Vendor contacts. The conference showcases vendors with tools you use. Take this opportunity to compare competing tools.
  • Best practices. There will be training sessions in areas that will immediately benefit your group.
  • Training. There will be workshops designed to teach attendees a special skill and/or help your team overcome current or future challenges.

Quantifying the Benefits

Although you might understand the benefits of the conference that interest you, your manager may not. Therefore, to be most effective in justifying the conference, you need to clearly articulate the connection between your organization’s knowledge requirements and the conference program. DO NOT assume that your manager will be able to automatically make those distinctions.

To support this process, use the following Benefits Worksheet to help you focus on the benefits. Use whatever makes sense for your particular organization, and omit the rest.

Benefits Worksheet

Your Organization’s Benefits

Specific Needs and the Conference Sessions & Training That Meet the Need

Networking Benefits

This conference will allow [specific team members] to network with other professionals and vendors in the industry. We will be able to take the pulse of what is happening for tools, technologies, and processes, and hear ideas we weren’t even aware of.

Teambuilding (if sending a big part of your group)

This conference will help build our team, providing a forum for team members to discuss tools, technologies, and processes and how we might apply them in our company to improve our information products, workflow, and processes.

Current Tools


Future Tools Exploration


Current Technologies


Future Technologies Exploration


Current Processes


Future Processes Exploration


Vendors with Tools & Technologies You Are Exploring


It’s All in the Selling

After you have identified the specific knowledge benefits, you’ve provided both the expenses and benefits your manager needs to decide the value of your proposition. Salespeople work the same way. They don’t let customers infer the value of what they are selling, they make that leap for them.
Sell your conference proposition!

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Letter to Supervisor

< Date >

Dear < supervisor’s name >,

I would like to attend CFMA’s 2017 Annual Conference & Exhibition June 3 - 7, 2017 , the premier event for construction financial professionals. The conference will enable me to attend a number of education sessions that are directly applicable to my work and will allow me to network with a variety of experts and colleagues from around the world. Many of the presentations are tailored to the CFM and give information on how to < list benefits to your responsibilities >. I am seeking sponsorship for the registration fee, travel expenses to the conference, and living expenses during the conference. A detailed cost breakdown is included below.

After reviewing the conference agenda, I have identified a number of education sessions which will allow me to gain knowledge and understanding about how we can improve our processes. The presentations are facilitated by both industry experts and colleagues who have faced similar challenges. I chose each of these presentations because they are directly related to issues we are dealing with. Getting the information in a seminar format will greatly reduce the research time and costs < your organization’s name > would normally incur in researching the topics. Incidentally, I have only listed some of the seminars that I will attend. Including them all would make this memo much too long.

< You will need to insert the session descriptions which most apply to your responsibilities. >

< The numbers in brackets below will need to be adjusted to reflect the current pricing. All registration fees are listed here. The travel costs vary as well and should be changed to reflect your costs. >

< You will need to insert your travel cost numbers in here >

Here is the breakdown of conference costs:
Roundtrip Airfare: <$xxxx>
Transportation: <$xxxx>
Hotel: <$229 per night>
Meals: <$xxxx>
Conference Fee: <$xxxx>
The total costs associated with attending this conference are: <$xxxx>.

The opportunity for me to develop better contacts and gain knowledge in specific areas makes my attendance at CFMA’s conference a wise investment, which will yield rich dividends for < name of your organization >.


< your name here >

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Thank you sponsors!