Event Project Management is a subset of Professional Event Management. It’s about applying business and project management techniques to the world of events to get them done on time and within budget.
To some people, event project management may seem like it is just about having a transparent process for each element of an event and ensuring all aspects are completed consistently and on time.
However, there’s much more to it than that:
- Projecting realistic timelines and budgets.
- Making decisions based on accurate information.
- Understanding how your team works best and managing accordingly.
- Knowing when you need additional resources or help from specialists, the list goes on!
This guide provides everything you’ll need to know to get started with event project management.
For this guide, I will primarily refer to events using the term “conference.” This is because most event project management happens in that industry segment, even though it can be applied to other types of events. It’s also what I’m most familiar with (and, let’s face it, where most of my experience lies).
What Do You Need to Know?
The great thing about project management, in general, is the application of its principles and techniques. The main requirements for event project management are the same as any other type of project:
- Well-defined processes
- Realistic timelines
- Clear roles and responsibilities
- Open communication; the list goes on!
These elements should be outlined as part of a documented project management plan like any project.
How Do You Go About Implementing It?
Now that we have the requirements listed, I don’t want to think that implementing event project management is just a matter of ticking off a list.
Event management should be integrated into everything you’re doing as a manager – from budgeting to purchasing contracts and equipment. It requires constant attention and will play an essential role in nearly all your activities.
Here are some key areas where event project management tools can make a difference:
Scope Management & Change Control
In any other type of project, making changes mid-project is unacceptable unless you’ve taken care to set up processes for managing scope change requests (SCRs) and change control. This is something that event managers should typically already be familiar with, but it’s worth looking at again in the context of an event project.
Project management techniques like scope management and change control are as valuable for your events as they are for other projects (which is why I’ve included them as the first area of discussion).
It’s not about which specific techniques you’re going to use; instead, it’s about knowing what those techniques are and choosing which ones fit your organisational needs and sponsor requirements.
Here are some questions to consider:
- What types of changes might happen during an event? (temporary or permanent; major or minor; etc.)
- Who can request a change?
- What is the process for assessing and approving changes?
- How quickly do changes need to be actioned?
- What are the consequences of not following the change control process?
Event project management isn’t just about mitigating risks. It’s also about understanding them and taking steps to prevent them from happening in the first place. To do this effectively, you need to have risk identification, assessment, and response planning processes.
Risk identification can be made through brainstorming sessions with team members or reviewing past events for potential risks. Once you’ve identified a risk, you need to assess its likelihood of occurring and its potential impact on the event if it does happen.
This will allow you to determine whether the risk is worth addressing. If it’s too unlikely or doesn’t have a significant impact, then there’s no need for concern. However, if the threat of the risk has the potential to cause serious consequences, you’ll want to come up with a way of preventing it – which brings us to response planning.
This isn’t something that needs to be done in isolation; rather, it should be part of your overall project plan. Your team members will have important insights on what kinds of issues are more likely to arise and how those issues can be addressed proactively (for example, process changes, training sessions, or contingency plans).
The key here is identifying risks and avoiding them before they happen.
Event project management is all about communication – between team members, stakeholders, and other involved parties. Good communication is essential for keeping everyone on the same page and ensuring that the event runs smoothly.
One of the most critical aspects of communication is setting expectations. This includes defining roles and responsibilities and specifying what information needs to be shared with whom.
Establishing a communications plan can help ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of their role in the event and knows what’s going on at all times.
Another critical element of effective communication is allowing team members to ask questions and raise concerns. This can be done through regular status updates or by setting up a dedicated communications channel (such as a messaging app) that allows for 24/7 communication.
Event project management requires a lot of attention to schedules and deadlines and adapting those schedules when necessary. It’s not enough to create a list of tasks and their expected completion dates. You need an actionable strategy for making sure those goals are met.
The best way to do this is by using time management tools, which show how all the different parts relate to one another and where team members stand along the process.
Of course, there’s no such thing as absolute certainty in this industry – projects can unexpectedly take longer than anticipated due to unforeseen obstacles (for example, last-minute additions or conflicts postponed until after your event).
This is why it’s essential to include several contingencies in your plans, such as backup plans for team members and alternative schedules.
Event project management isn’t just about scheduling tasks and setting deadlines – it’s also about making sure that you stay within budget. This should be one of the first considerations during the planning phase, as being financially responsible from the start translates into more money being available for other parts of your big event.
There are two key components to cost management: forecasting and tracking.
Forecasting refers to creating a realistic estimate for how much money you will need by considering different factors (labour hours, equipment rentals, materials required).
Tracking means monitoring actual spending and comparing it to the forecast so that you can make changes as needed.
Event project management requires a lot of people with different skillsets – from event planners to caterers to AV technicians. The key to successful resource management is allocating those resources appropriately and ensuring that everyone works together effectively.
This can be done by establishing standard operating procedures (SOPs) for each task and creating a communication plan outlining how everyone should interact.
In some cases, you may need to bring in extra help to meet deadlines or handle unexpected situations. This is where contingency plans come into play; having a roster of backup team members who are ready and willing to step in when needed can be a lifesaver.
One of the most critical aspects of event project management is ensuring that the final product is up to par. This means implementing a quality assurance (QA) process that checks every aspect of the event – from the invitations to the food to the entertainment.
The QA process should be designed to catch any potential problems before they occur, and it should be implemented throughout the entire event planning process. This way, you can make changes as needed and ensure that your guests have a positive experience.
Marketing and PR
Event project management is not just about putting on a good show. It’s also about getting the word out there so that people know about your event. This means creating marketing and PR plans that target the right audience and generate excitement for what’s to come.
Marketing efforts can take a lot of different forms, from creating an effective website and social media presence to sending out press releases and hosting promotional events.
It’s also essential to have a plan for tracking your marketing efforts – which means having the right analytics in place and processes for doing things like measuring return on investment (ROI).
One last thing that event project management entails is managing your various stakeholders. These are the key people involved in the big event – whether they’re team members, clients, investors, or other business partners.
Stakeholder management requires more than just keeping everyone happy. It also means ensuring that there are no surprises throughout the planning process so that you can maintain good relationships with these important people. This can be done by setting expectations early on and keeping everyone up to date on the latest developments.
Event project management is a complex process, but you can ensure that your event goes off without a hitch if you approach it systematically. By following the tips above, you’ll be well on your way to putting together a successful event.