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Project Management for Event Planners

By Simone Poetscher
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Event professionals and industry associations have acknowledged it for many years. Project Management (PM) tools and methodologies are an asset to Event Management. Why? Well, managing an event is essentially managing a project. Events have a defined beginning and end, and they are unique in terms of teams involved, and changing environments.

Project Managing Events

Planners, Listen Up!

I proclaim that companies are beginning to catch-up on the trend. In the past, corporations have failed to recognize the importance of project management when it comes to planning their events. I have recently started analyzing requirements for senior event professionals in job postings. The result? Project management is on the rise. While I am pleased about this development, it may bring new roles and responsibilities for today's and tomorrow's event professional in an organization.

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Step Into The Role Of The Modern Event Professional!

A modern event professional does more than develop an agenda, secure a location, or select a caterer. This stereotype is what planners are often confronted with in the corporate world. I believe if given the chance, a senior event professional will fulfill a much more significant role. With their work, s/he is supporting the company's mission. By developing and implementing strategies to reach corporate goals, maximize budgets, minimize risks, and manage human resources.

Take On The Right Responsibilities!

It’s the planner’s responsibility to follow event industry standards and best practices. Today’s event professionals need to clarify expectations and control processes to increase the likelihood for achieving event success. Planners are responsible for sticking to schedules, budgets, and timelines. They need to communicate clearly with all stakeholders. And, they are to deliver the anticipated return on investment and return on opportunity. Following PM methodologies and utilizing PM tools does allow planners to do so.

Try These Project Management Tools For Event Success!

Employing PM methodologies can have a big impact on event success. Streamlining processes will bring efficiency and effectiveness to event planning. Since PM is not an off-the-shelf solution, efforts need to be tailored to the organization and its goals. Here are some tools today’s planners should consider:

  • Statement of Work: Assures everyone is on the same page by defining the scope. It also clarifies the strategic goals and purpose(s) of the event, before planning efforts start.
  • Feasibility Study: Determines if the event can deliver the desired return on investment and return on opportunity. Its results point to which events should be nipped in the bud. It can also be applied to evaluate risks and analyze pros and cons, e.g. for determining event themes, formats, time & date, and location.
  • Work Breakdown Structure (WBS): Divides the work to be performed into manageable work packages, and then breaks them down into activities. For ease of monitoring and controlling the progress, activities can then be assigned to a person, timeline, and budget.
  • Gantt Chart and Critical Path: Supports scheduling, and demonstrates dependencies visually. It highlights the critical path by identifying activities that are to be completed as scheduled, so not to delay the entire project. Check out Julius’ article “10 Unmissable Tools for the Gantt Chart Guru” for technology options.
  • Risk Register: Keeps track of potential risks, their probabilities, and possible impacts. The register lists risk owners, and actions for risk mitigation to be taken should they materialize.

In Conclusion

Now, more than ever, planners need to integrate project management principles into their daily routines. The benefits of doing so are higher efficiency, better return on investment, and on time and on budget implementation.

The many advantages of applying project management methodologies to event planning are finally being realized. Not only by the events industry itself, but also by corporations. Project Management will play a major role in the event industry's future. And, I am convinced that investing time into perfecting PM skills is THE way to go for today’s event professional.

"Photo by Leo Reynolds"

about the author

is a Certified Project Management Professional, and the Founder and Editor of The Corporate Event Blog Mona’s Event Dos & Don’ts. She has produced hundreds of events in the international business arena for more than a decade, merging the worlds of project management and event planning. Through the persona “Mona” she shines the light on day-to-day challenges of event professionals, and offers tips on how to tackle them successfully.
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