A project manager (PM) is, as his name implies, one who manages a project from the beginning (or concept stage) to end (post-event evaluation). This position means that the PM is obligated to take on a lot of responsibility and accountability, since the entire event will be under their care and direction.
In general, the PM will be involved in the following stages of event planning:
At this stage, you will need to determine the scope and nature of your event. Be clear, specific and realistic as this forms the foundation for the entire event planning process (both for you and for your team). To accomplish this, you will need to:
- Analyse your needs and measurable goals.
- Review the way things have been organised and managed in the past.
- Establish the financial situation and a realistic budget.
- Get a team together for this event.
- Put a contractual agreement in place for the major issues that need confirmation.
Plan the event with time, money, resources and client needs / requirements in mind. While this is still a basic idea that does not need to be implemented until later, a relatively large amount of detail is required to ensure that this builds on the foundation and creates a solid structure from which to work. This involves:
- Deciding on a planning process (who, what, where, why and how should decisions be made?)
- Developing the strategy for event planning.
- Electing a team for the planning part of the event management.
- Creating a broken down schedule for all deliverables, including a time line.
- Listing every activity that needs to be undertaken to meet your needs and then organising these into a schedule.
- Trying to estimate what resources will be required for each activity.
- Estimating the cost and time requirements for each activity.
- Developing the budget and schedule accordingly.
- Putting Plan B’s in place, where possible.
- Getting final sign-off from your superior or client to begin officially working on the project.
This stage involves liaising between, managing and guiding all of the processes required to implement the event planning strategy. The event planners and customers will require that you be their go-between and handle all hiccups and unexpected hurdles. This is more stressful than the planning, but is considerably less work for the PM, since they are now managing those who are actually implementing the strategy.
Watch the entire process carefully and ascertain whether potential problems are imminent or further steps need to be taken in certain areas. If you identify these in time, you can take steps to overcome issues before they affect the client or the event. It is also crucial that you continue to evaluate the budget against the expenditure so that you do not exceed your client’s financial capabilities or expectations.
As the PM, you will be responsible for the official finishing off of the event and the acceptance of the feedback you receive from your client and / or employer. This stage may also involve signing off of completion contracts as well as post-event evaluation, which will encourage you to analyse the successes and failures of the event and plan the next one accordingly.
PM’s are generally required to have a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management, Human Resources, Public Relations, or similar. To qualify as a PM, you will do well to have at least three years of event management behind you, so that you are prepared and equipped to handle the very demanding pace.