Project Management is a bit like Network Rail: it's not popular, but vital (and has a lot of room for improvement)


Project Management does not conjure up images of excitement and glamour. Never before has a child said “Mummy, when I grow up I want to be a brilliant project manager”. However, almost everything we do in life is in some way a project. You have a number of tasks, you need to execute them in a particular order and respond when things are trying to derail your original plan, which they invariably tend to do. In this respect an event, and especially a major event, is the ultimate project with thousands of tasks and absolutely zero leeway on the delivery date. 

 

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Some of the most frequent responses I hear from event professionals when asked about project management are “Confusing”, “Convoluted” and “Time Consuming”. Alliteration aside, this does highlight a problem. With such a general loathing of project management and the idea that it needs formally educated ‘project managers’ to run things it is no wonder such a high percentage of major events are a hotbed of stress budget inflation.

 

Event technology is growing rapidly but it is focusing on (and almost becoming synonymous with) shiny marketing and promotional apps for consumers. There is some great stuff out there for this but it is sometimes worth stopping to remember that event tech can help with all parts of the event process, even the less fashionable, but equally important, world of project management.

 

Use this not thisLOCOG was a good example of where the project management principals were sound, but they definitely had a few thousand more spreadsheets and MS Project files, not to mention project managers, than were probably needed. This caused bottlenecks and frustration at various levels.

 

 

Nevertheless, there are solutions! They key is to provide online systems that can be updated by everyone that needs to (with role based permissions) on very limited training so meaningful information can be retrieved from anywhere, at any time, on any device.

 

At a minimum the main features needed are a tasking system, a risks and issues register, document storage, and good reports on a system that can be customised and hold multiple events/venues/departments.

 

There is always a balance and trade off to be made between simplicity and complexity, and the industry is generally moving towards the complex. As the event sector grows so will the regulation around it. Audit trails, health and safety, risk registers and CDM requirements (in the UK) are all good examples of this. Making complex things appear easy is difficult, but it can be done.

 

“Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple.” Woody Guthrie

 

To summarise, whether you are an event organiser or supplier try to find a solution that treads this difficult path between simplicity and comprehensiveness and ensures your staff are not treading water in a sea of spreadsheets, emails and phone calls rather than working to delivering a major event.

 

If you would like to know anything else about project management in general or WeTrack please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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