An event planner is also a project manager. The beginning of a project sets the stage for the rest of the processes to unfold through event project management. Traditionally, there are five basic disciplines or steps from the beginning to the end of the project.

Step #1 Initiation of Project

According to Meeting Professionals International (MPI) the initiating process is a group of actions:

  • Obtain authorization to begin the project
  • Define project

Defining Your Project

Each project should have specific parameters that help to define it. These can then be broken down into smaller and smaller parts.

  1. Identify project goals: This should begin with the main goal and then broken down into smaller goals.
  • Examples of a main goal: Cooking class, celebrate a company milestone or introduce a new service/product.
  • Examples of smaller goals of each main goal: Reach out to local community, honor vendors or target new markets. Identify team members: Some team members may also be stakeholders. Stakeholders may include exhibitors, speakers, groups and organizations as well as others.

Identify project framework: This includes project constraints based on goal(s) and needs.

  • Examples of main goals include: Advanced cooks only, type of celebration or product demonstration with free samples/coupons.

Identify large and small tasks: You can break down this process to as many tasks as you wish. The more refined this section is, the less likely you’ll have any surprises or unexpected issues.

  • When breaking down tasks, you can begin to see how they can be organized in various groupings or categories.
  • An example may be the theme of your event, this will dictate the venue, speaker(s), entertainment, food and so on.

Step #2 Planning

You’re ready to start planning your event. There are many components to this step, each vital for determining your success.

Communication Is Key

Decide how you’re going to communicate with team members and stakeholders. Take advantage of collaboration tools such as Google Apps:

  • Build project sites: You don’t have to use code. There are also hundreds of project templates.
  • Google Drive: Share files/documents.
  • Google Hangout: Use for live file sharing and video conference features.
  • Google Calendar: Schedule your project and set-up reminders.

Once you have your method(s) of communication established, decide how often you will meet, either online or in-person to discuss progress and challenges.

“A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide)” states that the planning process is made up of three basics:

Necessary processes to “establish the scope of the project”.

  • Assign large and small tasks to teams and/or individual team members.

Objectives need to be refined.

  • Type of venue required to meet goal: Evaluate venues against list of needs defined in Step #1-C.
  • Event effectiveness: How to keep attendees engaged and create a fun event.
  • Schedule for event: Order of activities and time required for each one weighed against time allotment for entire event.
  • Venue accommodations: Make sure all tech and other event needs can be met.
  • Event date and time: Set the date and time of your event.

Define course of action needed “to attain the objectives that the project was undertaken to achieve”.

  • Create budget: If your budget isn’t preset, now is the time to set it.
  • Stay within budget: Make decisions on venue, food, speakers, entertainment and other requirements.

Step #3 Control and Monitor

Event project management means maintaining oversight. This process will continue to the very end of your event. It also coincides with the actual execution of your project.

  • Progress reports: Keep up with what is going on with each team or team member with scheduled reports and meetings to assess progress.
  • Budget: Keep your finger on the pulse of expenditures to ensure you stay within budget.
  • Communication: Keep all channels open, especially with venue/vendors you depend on for a successful events.
  • After event: How successful your event was, what needs improving before the next event and other issues can be assessed and evaluated with a post-event survey.

Step #4 Execution

This stage is the test of how well you managed each step in your project process. The execution step is your actual event. Everything should be in place by this point. Your biggest challenge now will be solving issues that arise.

  • Checklists: Give each team member a checklist for each area/item they’re overseeing.
  • Project executed: If Steps #1 – #3 were successfully completed, Step #4 will deliver the desired final result – the event.

Step #5 Closure

Closing out the event is the final step in your event project management. This is where you share all the relative data of your event. It includes a post-event survey.

  1. Assess: An assessment should include your notes, any event videos, event schedule, updates on the event and status reports as well as any other pertinent information.
  2. Final report: This report should be created to determine how successful your event was.
  • Did your event accomplish all goals?
  • Were all expectations of the event met?
  • Was the event of value when compared to what your company spent?

Make Your Project Management Seamless

There are many project tools you can use to ensure your event project management runs like a well-oiled machine. The planning and then implementing of those plans is half the battle. The other half is controlling and monitoring each step to provide a checks and balances that ensures you stay on target and meet your goal by delivering the best event possible.