If this sounds like the last event you managed, then I suggest you start stealing. We all know the greats do it: Good writers borrow, great writers steal. Good artists copy, great artists steal. It’s about time that event managers started stealing, too. So whom are you to steal from? Project managers, of course.
Inside The Project Manager’s Toolbox
Large events such as product launches, industry conferences, and promotional affairs are just projects in disguise. Since project management methodologies are closely aligned with event planning, the gadgets you need to make your event successful are already available.
Most project managers have a powerful digital toolbox known as project management software. The best applications provide a central place where you can plan and assign tasks, track and communicate with vendors, and oversee everything you need to keep an event running smoothly.
Let’s review some of the most important features of PM software, and how they relate to event planning:
Humans are visual creatures. When planning and scheduling an event, it’s helpful to have a visual that transforms a conceptual workload into actionable items. This is where Gantt charts come in. A Gantt chart is a horizontal bar chart used to illustrate start and finish dates for critical tasks. They are particularly helpful for visualizing a project’s timeline and quickly assessing whether or not your event is on schedule.
Event management requires tracking many separate teams and vendors, whose tasks are often interconnected or dependent. Gantt charts allow you to assign dependencies to tasks which need to be performed in a particular order. All major tasks and milestones necessary for project execution can be chronologically depicted with this tool. You can also monitor the progress of each high level task at a glance, which is valuable in situations where a change in the timing of one task affects all the other tasks that depend on it.
When events have multiple teams and vendors, it’s critical to have an easy way to share documents and information. Project management software with file sharing tools provides an accessible central storage area for all important information and common documents. This eliminates redundant revisions and the need to exchange documents via email. Not only is this great for team collaboration, but for tracking and managing vendor proposals, contracts, negotiations, and invoices.
Project management software is the swiss army knife of collaboration. Thanks to robust features and integrations, most platforms can be tailored to the needs of your team or event. Need to keep in touch with colleagues, ask quick project questions, or send documents (perhaps a revised guestlist, for instance)? Instant messaging has you covered.
Need to get everyone out of their overloaded inbox and on the same page? Project management software allows individuals to comment on tasks, tag keywords or people in questions, and get notifications of updates and progress changes automatically.
Need to work with different vendors or teams for each event? A good project management platform will offer additional collaborator licenses for free. This means contractors can discuss progress, upload files, and mark tasks complete— which makes tracking vendors simple.
Another helpful visualization tool is a Kanban board. Once an event’s major milestones are determined, Kanban boards are helpful for breaking them into bite-sized chunks. Teams can see their group objective, then delegate responsibilities by adding subtasks and individual action items with deadlines.
Kanban boards provide transparency by letting everybody see what everybody else is working on. Event managers can quickly see where resources are allocated, monitor team or vendor progress, and identify bottlenecks. This tool also reinforces efficient project behavior. For example, when everyone’s work is visualized, it deters individuals from overcommitting and limits the amount of deliverables in progress.
Event Planning is a Project
Events can be a powerful strategic marketing tool for any size company. Making your events successful requires a holistic view of collaboration from planning to execution. Project management software helps you plan a timeline, manage deadlines, facilitate collaboration, and track vendors. Managers use these tools in tandem with their methodology of choice to carefully articulate project goals, expectations, milestones, and key deliverables. Good event planners use a project manager’s methodology, great event managers steal their tools.
About the author: Jenna Puckett is an associate technology analyst at TechnologyAdvice. She covers topics related to project management, marketing automation, employee performance, and other emerging tech trends. Connect with her on LinkedIn.