The Linux Foundation's success story with Sessionize: Cutting costs, boosting efficiency and streamlining operations

The Linux Foundation, known for organizing large-scale and high-profile Open Source events across the globe, harnessed the power of Sessionize to transform their event content management workflow, resulting in substantial time and resource savings

For this case study, we talked to Cody Galloway, an event content manager at The Linux Foundation—a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing open-source software and standards. The foundation oversees numerous open-source projects, provides training and certification across various skills, and orchestrates events and conferences for the global open-source community. Cody is a key member of a six-person content team responsible for managing the call for papers process and speakers for both domestic and international events organized. As a point of reference, the latest edition of their largest event, KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe 2024, received an impressive 2,600 submissions.

Before adopting Sessionize, the event content team relied on an alternative platform for the submission review process in events organized by The Linux Foundation. While it served its technical purpose, Cody deemed it “excessively clunky” and the team sought a more user-friendly alternative tailored to their needs. In their quest for improved efficiency and a smoother experience, Sessionize emerged as the optimal solution.                                                   

First impressions

Sessionize was recommended to Cody by some valued members of the community who spoke highly of the comparison evaluation mode. However, what initially drew him in was the opportunity to test the platform without any imposed limitations.

“I heard a couple people mention that they like Sessionize and how simple it is. That's when I went ahead and created my first test event. It was super easy to set up, and I was able to get the whole experience of using the platform and show it to the team without having to pay for a trial or anything like that. It was just very easy for us to get started and play around with the platform.” 

Open Source Summit Europe 2023

“Sessionize is primarily used by our content team. It's a smaller team consisting of myself and five other people who manage content. One of the things we really love about Sessionize is that we have the option to invite certain stakeholders to view submissions for their event that we manage. We can give them content viewer or content manager permissions and not worry that they're going to accidentally make unwanted changes in any way, which gives them the visibility they seek and gives us the peace of mind that we are looking for. They're able to keep an eye on submissions, spot potential trends as they're happening, and readjust outreach strategies if needed. Before switching to Sessionize, achieving real-time visibility like this was simply not possible."

Favorite features

As Cody and the content team continued to explore Sessionize, they were surprised to discover the high level of polish and attention to detail in every part of the platform.

Ease of setting up a call for speakers page

Given the number and sheer size of events organized by The Linux Foundation, the team was thrilled by the simplicity of setting up a call of speakers page.

The ease of setting up a new call for papers page is impressive. It just takes a couple of minutes to set up, and then it's really easy to test out. You can send a link to internal stakeholders before launching and they can experience the entire submission process from beginning to end with ease. In fact, I just created an urgent, last-minute CFP yesterday. It took me maybe 10 minutes to set up and send it over to the stakeholders for review. They looked at it and gave me the go-ahead to launch. That would never have been possible in our previous system. The same process would have taken at least a day to configure and test.” + Cassandra Summit 2023

Using Dashboard for a quick event overview

“Another thing we love about Sessionize is the built-in Dashboard. We always get asked questions about the number of submissions for a certain track, the company diversity breakdown, and similar metrics. We can just log into Sessionize to get that information straight away. Previously, we had to create a custom report, export it, and then use some Excel magic to get those numbers, which made it impossible to answer such questions on the fly,” Cody notes. The Dashboard page shows a quick breakdown of the number of sessions, unique speakers, evaluation status, links to the call for speakers page, as well as other relevant event data.

Intuitive and robust conditional logic setup

Another feature the team found extremely useful when configuring a CFP is the ability to create custom fields tied together with conditional logic.

The conditional questions are so easy to set up! That was perhaps the biggest pain point that we had with the platform we used previously. There are always going to be cases where you need to answer something based on the answer to a previous question, and the previous branching logic was incredibly time-consuming to set up and test, and sometimes it still wouldn’t work. All the visibility rules would often break if you deleted a single conditional logic entry. In Sessionize, it takes seconds to set up and it's really easy to update the fields. For example, if you spot a spelling error, you can just quickly update the affected field instead of having to start over from scratch.”

WasmCon North America 2023

Saving tons of time on session evaluation

One of the biggest hurdles the team encountered was the massive amount of time spent on session evaluations. For example, with nearly 2,600 submissions to review for KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe 2024, it's no surprise they were looking for a faster and smarter way to go through them all. Interestingly, this is an area where they were somewhat skeptical of what could be improved by switching to a different platform. Cody shared an in-depth overview of the entire evaluation process for events of such magnitude.

“Regarding the evaluation plans Sessionize offers, I learned quickly that the configuration is super easy and was able to figure it all out very fast. The team was hesitant at first because our previous platform was very hard to learn and they thought they needed to dedicate a ton of time to familiarize themselves with the new process and software. After switching to Sessionize, it was really cool to see everyone coming to the same realization - this is easy!” 

The sheer number of hours of manual work the team saved by using Sessionize's evaluation plans is stunning:

"I estimated the amount of time it takes me to do evaluations on my largest event that requires a multi-step evaluation process. We start with our program committee, which consists of roughly 150 people evaluating the various tracks. We have several specialized program committee members in each track, and our goal is to get as many valuable assessments as possible from these volunteer experts and balance that with respecting their time and not overburdening them. To achieve this, I was able to easily split them up and use the Sessionize's option to assign evaluators.

For example, our largest track had over 400 submissions. It isn’t reasonable to ask our program committee members to each thoughtfully review 400 submissions in two weeks. What made it manageable was the ability to assign a certain number of reviews per submission. With that simple configuration, Sessionize randomly split up the evaluation workload amongst all reviewers assigned to that track and each reviewer had less than 100 sessions to review. I added it all up and compared it to our previous tool for my specific workload. Sessionize saved me 14 hours of manual work for this single event, which was previously wasted on creating cumbersome spreadsheet exports and custom review sheets with formulas. That's huge!"

The team also appreciates the ability to observe what evaluators are doing in real time. “We love that at any time we can check how long evaluators are taking to do session reviews. We can even see where they're currently at in the process. The analytics for the evaluation plans are awesome!” Cody adds.

Additionally, the community program committee members have shared feedback that it is far easier to review submissions in the tool compared to the spreadsheets and other clunky review tools The Linux Foundation has had to use with previous platforms. Sessionize provides a simple and clean user interface that requires no training to get started.

KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2023

Schedule builder saves time and eliminates human errors

Building a schedule for large events is a massive task on its own and the team found great use in Sessionize's Schedule builder tool.

“Any session that you accept just pops up in the Schedule builder and then you can color-code based on track or whatever field you've collected, which makes building the schedule a simple drag-and-drop process to visualize how the event is going to run. The Schedule builder also helps me make sure that I didn't accidentally miss any of the accepted sessions. If there's a session listed in the menu, then I've accepted it and need to make sure to find a place for it in the schedule.

It's so cool being able to visualize seeing speakers accidentally assigned to the same time slot; you immediately know if there are any conflicts. Not only that, Sessionize also warns you if you schedule the same speaker for two consecutive sessions. While this isn't technically a scheduling conflict, sometimes this means the speaker might need to run from one side of the venue to the other, giving them a stressful experience. I love that I can get ahead of these situations well in advance by seeing details like this in the Schedule builder, and use them to provide our speakers with the best possible experience.”

The team noticed massive time savings when using the Schedule builder, as well as one additional, less obvious benefit that Cody points out:

“The Schedule builder saves me around five to six hours of manual work for each large event, freeing up a considerable amount of time spent in front of my computer doing manual, tedious work. And even better, the scheduling builder tool eliminates human error in the process, which is really cool.”

Open Source Summit North America 2023

Data exports as an asset

Every event organizer can use Sessionize's Export page to quickly create spreadsheets with session data, evaluation results, as well as team comments. 

“With the tool we used previously, every single time we wanted to export any kind of data, we had to create a time-consuming custom report. This included dragging and dropping all the needed fields, and, in the end, we'd get an ugly export with a thousand columns in it. It took us a long time to sift through that data. We love being able to just pull the report easily to quickly see what we want. We appreciate that we can download the data we need in an easy-to-understand format with a click of a button. That's a cool way for a certain feature to impact event organizers. I can also export the data and then run some custom scripts to get the data exactly in the way I want it. Love it!”

Exceptionally knowledgeable and responsive customer support

Sessionize puts a strong emphasis on providing its customers with excellent customer support, which includes quick and direct responses to feedback. This was recognized in one of the initial contacts with the platform.

“In one of the first conversations we had with Sessionize, I could tell they wanted to partner with us. We felt like we were actually talking to real people who listened to us, understood our needs, and did something about them. I think that was when we decided that Sessionize could be for us. Even when some requested changes that would suit us simply weren’t possible to change on the platform globally, Sessionize wouldn't just give us a straight no. They would take the time to explain how that change would affect all other users of the platform. Their explanations always make sense and make us feel like valued partners.”

Open Source Summit Japan

A valuable ally in time and cost savings

Ultimately, the team regards Sessionize as a platform that effectively conserves both time and financial resources for the Linux Foundation.

“I love that Sessionize has a system where if you buy a certain number of events, you get a discount. It's been nice to leverage that discount when buying in bulk. And, believe it or not, with that, we were able to save a bit of money compared to the platform we used previously. So not only do we have all these additional features that are making our lives so much better and saving us money in terms of the man-hours we're putting into this, we're spending less money to pay for the CFP platform, too."

Most importantly, the team recognizes Sessionize as a dedicated long-time partner; one that listens and does everything in its power to accommodate their specific needs. “It's been a very different experience working with Sessionize compared to our previous vendor. Sessionize listens to us, understands what our business goals are, asks insightful questions, and tells it to us like it is. We're treated with a lot of respect and that makes Sessionize a company that we would like to do business with. I'm so glad we're at the point where all of our programs are using it. It's made all our lives a lot better,” Cody concludes.

Create a demo event and try Sessionize in all of its glory. Our trial mode is completely free and transparent to use, and it lets you experience Sessionize without stripping any of its functionality.


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