Event planning: let’s keep it ‘Agile’
Annabel Bradford is the marketing and events manager at Redgate, the UK’s leading database software company. Following on from her presentation at the last clic+ Club event, she explains why she thinks event professionals should use the ‘Agile’ approach when event planning, and how this can accommodate the constantly evolving industry landscape.
At Redgate we organise a variety of conferences, trade shows, speaker programmes and community events. Through working on these projects I’ve used every kind of traditional planning process you can think of, from gantt charts, to calendar view, to the almighty to-do list. One thing that became apparent with these approaches was that they do not respond well to change. By following these rigid processes we are restricting ourselves by taking away our ability to react to issues when they arise, creating unnecessary stress.
I soon came to realise that it’s no longer effective to create a fixed 12 month plan with a rigid budget allocated to it. Times have changed and traditional event planning processes are no longer fit for purpose. Being reactive to issues you face along the event-planning road is not enough. We need to be proactive. This is where Agile comes in.
I found Agile through observing my software co-workers. They were doing the same things as me; working on a variety of projects, handling tight deadlines, working with multiple moving parts and sharing the ultimate goal of pleasing the end user. The only difference was that they were not stressed or feeling any pressure. This opened my eyes to the Agile approach.
Originally created for software development practitioners, Agile helps them work effectively to deliver cross-functional projects and code. It’s based on twelve guiding principles that help support teams to implement and execute with agility. I boiled it down to the three principles that I felt were most relevant to the event project planning way of life:
Principle one: Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer
Principle six: The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation
Principle twelve: At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly
Adapting my way of working to include this process was not difficult and the benefits were immediate. Having this process as a foundation for planning events enables you to stay flexible when problems occur and gives you the platform to respond to them with control. Everyone works in different ways and different processes work for different people. I encourage event professionals to explore different processes and find the ones that works for them."
My top tips for planning an event:
5 things to do
- Research your attendees
- Set objectives early – set the scope
- Be agile throughout – don’t let small problems throw you off course, work around them
- Constantly check how things are going – are you meeting objectives?
- Collaborate with suppliers and maintain a constant flow of communication
5 things not to do
- Don’t stress – you need a clear head to see the path in front of you
- Don’t rely on one supplier – it’s that old saying ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’
- Don’t lose sight of your attendees
- Don’t think you can’t solve problems that arise – there is always another way
- To reinforce the first point – don’t worry!
Sincere thanks to Annabel for her thought provoking and inspiring insight into event planning. A really fresh way of looking at things. If you would like to attend a future clic+ club event and lecture then find out more and register here
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