Perfect Project Management Tools for Event Planners
It wasn’t too long ago that an event planner’s best friends were a pen and a notebook. It was often easy to spot the event planner in a crowd because he or she was either running around with a battered notebook clutched tightly or frantically flipping through the pages while searching to an answer to someone’s question.
Those days, however, are in the past. While a pen and paper can still be useful during the early planning stages (even here, electronic options are replacing their manual brethren), they were lousy when it came to searching, sharing, and collaborating.
Today, an event planner has many options when it comes to a technological solution to managing the multiple tasks and team members necessary to pull off a successful event.
Selecting the Right Management Tool
There are a lot of opinions about which solution is the perfect event management tool. Ask 12 different planners, and you may receive 12 different answers. Or, more likely, you will get a nuanced answer about how one solution fits in a particular scenario while a second solution is better for a different scenario.
Every event is different, so there is no universally perfect management tool. Items like budget, attendee needs, venue size, and more will impact the effectiveness of particular solutions. Before you even begin your search, there are a couple of steps you can take to ensure a solution is the right one for you:
• Know the specific features you need.
• Is the solution mobile-friendly, and is that something you need?
• Carefully research the strengths of your top management tools.
• Look up reviews, either online or through an ecommerce vendor.
• Ask for a demonstration to see the solution in action.
• Experiment until you find the one you need.
This is one of the best-known programs specifically dedicated to events. It is most often used for large events because it is incredibly deep, and it can also be rather pricy.
DoubleDutch can be fully customized to fit your needs. It not only functions as an exhaustive event management software, but it can also serve as an event app for attendees. Utilizing the resources of the DoubleDutch development team, you can create a custom event app with back-end integration. So, while attendees are using the app to share photos, network, give feedback, etc., event planners can use the software to handle event registration, analyze attendee trends, and track event progress and scale where needed. Through its robust data analytics and CRM integration, event planners can get a complete understanding of their attendees.
The downside to DoubleDutch is that all of its features can actually be imposing for planners who do not need all the bells and whistles. In addition, you will pay for those attractive features whether you use them or not.
That’s why DoubleDutch is mostly used for large exhibitions that will make the most of the software.
Trello is an affordable option given that it is a free online program designed for team communication and task management. The software works by you assigning tasks on cards to team members. As progress on the task advances, the card is moved around the “board” (you can also move tasks as needed). Users can also add new members to the cards as their input becomes necessary. For example, the job of creating a welcome email may move from the writer, to the editor, to graphics, to final review, with new employees added every step of the way, and you can monitor every level of the progress in real time.
While Trello is very useful for monitoring individual tasks as they progress through the pipeline, it does not have a master calendar. So, the ability to see a big picture snapshot is lacking, which means that gaining a complete understanding of your event takes a bit of effort. This can also be a drawback for team members with multiple tasks who would like a calendar view of their deadlines.
Like Trello, Basecamp is a useful task management system that is not exclusively designed for the events industry.
Basecamp utilizes a visual dashboard to organize and monitor schedules, to-do lists, shared files, and the team message board. You can create a variety of dashboards divided by departments or teams, whatever makes sense for your event. Basecamp is also pretty easy for anyone to understand with minimal (or no) instruction. The main downside, as far as events are concerned, is that it is only a task management system. It will not help you organize the other elements of your show.
Cvent was designed with events in mind to help planners increase attendance and lower costs. The software’s strength is in data analysis and assisting users to isolate the information most crucial to them and their specific event. In fact, when Cvent is used repeatedly for the same event over a couple of years, it will help you notice attendee trends and habits.
Cvent automates repetitive, common event management processes, so planners can spend their time on the creative and strategic elements of an event. Event registration, survey templates and reporting, website creation, budget management, payment processing, and much more, Cvent really can help with nearly every element of an event.
Like other robust solutions, the extensive features become a minus if you don’t need them, making the software overly complex and expensive.
Slack is a free service with a focus on improving team communication. Users create channels organized by topics and/or teams relevant to them. For example, your event could have a channel dedicated to sponsor acquisition, another for local food options, and another just for the AV team, etc. All conversations are organized into clear, manageable chains.
Slack’s intent is to replace email, specifically the lost and overlooked emails that always seem to happen at the worst times. Slack also has an instant message function for any team member. Slack’s main drawback is getting email-addicted team members on board and comfortable with the technology.
If you’ve ever run an event where last-minute changes to a seating plan required a desperate scramble across a ballroom floor hauling seats and other furniture minutes before guests streamed through the doors, you will understand the power of Social Tables.
Initially created for weddings, Social Tables has grown to accommodate many different types of events. The program lets planners and other team members get a comprehensive view of a room’s layout and the seating possibilities. The “social” aspect of Social Tables makes it easy to manage, collaborate, and communicate with vendors, such as furniture suppliers and caterers.
Even events without complex seating can find a use for Social Tables because the program also has a powerful attendee check-in tool.
Wrike is a project management solution that provides an overview of all the tasks that need to be accomplished and the efficiency of your team in completing them. It helps you get a better picture of each member’s strengths and weaknesses so you can be as thoughtful as possible when assigning tasks.
The program supports Android and iOS mobile functionally, so you can easily take the program with you as you hit the road.
These solutions will help streamline your event management needs, but they certainly aren’t the only available options. For even more suggestions or help with any event planning needs, give Event Architecture a call at 972-323-9433.