by Allison Magyar | July 18, 2016

Allison MagyarEvent managers have access to an incredibly wide range of technology to help them organize and manage their events, and many options fit very specific business needs. An important trend is that best-in-breed products now integrate with a broader range of platforms at the corporate enterprise level. While the technology has the potential to give event managers the time they need to become true event architects, and focus strategically on business goals, finding the right mix of tools and integrating them successfully can be a real challenge. Here are a few key factors to keep in mind.

Plan in advance. The work you put in during the initial planning to streamline your process and increase communication saves you untold hours when you are most stressed, closer to the event.

Know which tools you'll use for what purpose, and make sure your internal team and vendor team are 100 percent clear on those roles and how they will work together.

Ensure your tools work easily together. Event technology should seamlessly allow data to transfer from one location to another. There are many best-in-breed providers that believe in integrated technology that make using event technology productive and save you time.

Take time at the very beginning of your event-planning process to think through how you'll manage the flow of information and tasks. It’s more effort up front but pays off as you start to ramp up and get busier. Most meeting managers are using 10 different technology tools, so it can be overwhelming if you don't think about how they’ll work together in advance. Think through all of the tool sets you have available to you — how can you make information flow so easily that you could explain to a new team member in just a few hours your entire project plan, history and best practices?

Clearly define for your team what tools you use for which purpose and ensure it's easy for them to find information and to work within the tools. Most importantly, start small and make it dead simple. Trying to do too much at one time will just have people managing things via spreadsheet and emails again, which is a waste of the tools you’ve invested in, not to mention a big headache for you managing the data!

Once you’ve figured out how your technology fits together, you need to decide how to organize the information in your tools and how you will structure the event management process to get your teams to adopt a new way of working. To ensure that your team is aligned on the right priorities and to connect people effectively for the right discussions, you as a leader need to handle an overwhelming amount of information. One trick to use is to “bucket” your teams so that they are organized by the types of elements at your events: A few excellent project management tools to aid in this process include Microsoft Office 365 Planner, Trello, Asana and Basecamp.

Once you’ve set the stage for which tools you will use for which purpose, don’t be afraid to integrate all of your event technology. An increasing number of event tech companies now understand the need to connect disparate pieces of event technology and have done a lot of the groundwork for you. Take the time to ask about existing integrations. Knowing which companies are already working together to make their technology communicate will save you the trouble of figuring out how to transfer data between various systems and will provide a smooth, high-quality user experience that suits your natural workflow.

Ultimately, as you work with any piece of tech, you’ll understand how to use it better and how it fits within your overall goals. There is a lot of technology available to meeting managers, and keeping an open mind while you evaluate what works for your event will help you build the best combination of tools. The process can be daunting, but you don’t have to be an IT expert to build an event technology plan that works for your needs. By making a plan in advance, defining concrete goals and objectives, and taking the time to understand how your tools work together, you can streamline your workflow, simplify your life, and free up time to think strategically about the business goals and objectives of any event.

Allison Magyar is founder, CEO and president of event-technology provider Hubb.