Event Management

by Rus Slater

Common questions

  1. What exactly is an event?
  2. What is this event for?
  3. Why do I have to ‘plan’ this event, can’t I just ‘wing it’?
  4. I’m an intelligent person; can’t I work out what I need to think about?
  5. What do I need to think about before I start planning?
  6. What about scope creep?
  7. How do I get the event team to work together?
  8. With so many people responsible for so many different tasks, how do I keep it all on time?

 

1. What exactly is an event?

  • An event is a one-time endeavour, undertaken to create a unique outcome, which brings about a specified contribution to the organisation.
  • An event is unique; it is not an ongoing activity. An event produces a result that is different from ‘business as usual’.
  • An event has a finishing date (date rather than result).

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2. What is this event for?

Imagine a manager has just asked you to ‘organise the company conference’... Before you spend a lot of time on doing so you need to find out what the ‘company conference’ actually consists of in the mind of the manager who has given you the job.

You need to know

  • What is wanted
  • How it is going to be judged after the event
  • How complex the task is actually going to be.

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3. Why do I have to ‘plan’ this event - can’t I just ‘wing it’?

There is a myriad of reasons why it is better to plan an event, not least of which is that events tend to be high profile so your name can be made or broken by their success. Also

  • Ready, Aim, Fire or Fire, Aim, Ready?
  • A visible plan allows you to explain how much work you have to do when other work comes in
  • A plan prevents OSINTOTs (Oh, Sugar! I Never Thought Of That!)

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4. I’m an intelligent person; can’t I work out what I need to think about?

There are many different aspects involved in managing an event, not all of which may apply to you. It is critical, even for a small event, that you organise your thoughts and tackle things in a logical sequence. This will greatly enhance your chances of success and the plaudits you will receive when the event goes smoothly and achieves its aims.

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5. What do I need to think about before I start planning?

It pays to put in some rigorous research before you produce a detailed plan. Among aspects to consider are

  • Should there be a theme?
  • Is the venue appropriate, convenient, affordable and reachable?
  • Is the date convenient or does it clash with competing attractions?
  • If you are responsible for providing food and drink, you need to consider legal requirements, the facilities, how you will serve it and responsibility for clearing away.
  • Are the facilities – furniture, shelter, water, toilets and so on – sufficient?
  • Is the venue accessible by public transport and is there a car park?
  • Do you need security against theft or gatecrashers?
  • What publicity will you need?

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6. What about scope creep?

‘Scope creep’ is the term for the slow, evolutionary expansion of the objective of an event during its lifecycle. For example, you start with the intention of holding a simple dinner dance. Then someone asks if you can also have speeches to thank certain people. Then someone asks if you can also launch a new product at it. Suddenly you have three hours of speeches and a need for a projector.

Scope creep can be avoided by having a SMART objective up front, so that each request can be assessed against whether it falls within the parameters of the event. If the answer is ‘No’, then it can only be added if there has been an adequate assessment of the impact of adding it part way through, and after appropriate changes have been made to the plan to accommodate that impact.

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8. How do I get the event team to work together?

The Tuckman model of team performance says that teams go through a series of stages. Specifically, they have to go through the stages of forming and storming (sorting out their relative positions), before they start ‘norming’ (recognising how the team will work together and then performing. It is good sense to hold an initial session to try and get through the first three stages and agree some basic ground rules.

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9. With so many people responsible for so many different tasks, how do I keep it all on time?

When you start to schedule tasks you need to keep certain principles in mind:

  1. Schedule for concurrent activity – so try to have as much being done at the same time as is possible, in order to speed progress
  2. Schedule to account for dependencies, be they linear, or resource related – so look for bottlenecks; where multiple tasks are dependent upon one task, that one task becomes critical
  3. Juggle the scheduling to achieve the end date, not the individual task time estimates (in other words, work smarter, not harder)
  4. Look out for the decision tasks that require input from people outside the event team.

Use a Gantt chart to monitor progress.

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