Back to Basics
The Planner as Project Manager
How to plan events based on scope, time and cost
by Mimi AlmeidaMarch 1, 2012
President and co-founder of All Performance Associates, a meetings, motivation and engagement company based in Walnut Creek, Calif.
• Assign team members roles and responsibilities to streamline collaboration and avoid duplication of efforts.
• Create a "project success plan" for your team; if project fatigue sets in, pull it out to motivate staff and remind them of the goals and what success will mean to each of them, as well as to the organization.
• Review lessons learned from past programs and apply them as appropriate.
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While planning meetings certainly qualifies as a form of
project management, the latter is a broader discipline with its own set
of specific skills. When mastered, this approach can help boost your
ability to plan, execute and budget your meetings and events, as well as
elevate planning to a higher level of respect and understanding by
Determine Scope The principles of project management are based on a "triangle" of three factors: scope, time and cost.
scope of project (in this case, the meeting) is the first area to be
determined. Scope defines the extent of the work involved and spells out
the actions and activities assigned to specific persons or teams; it
also should outline a clear business objective for the meeting or
Start by asking all key stakeholders to explain how the
success of the project will be determined. Put your findings in writing
to ensure everyone's assumptions and interpretation of success about
the project are in synch.
By actively managing and adhering to the scope, planners can effectively control staff, suppliers, time and money.
vigilant about keeping tabs on the scope of the event. Be sure all team
members are familiar with the agreed-upon scope, and require them to
keep you abreast of all potential changes and additions as they occur,
so that you can make necessary adjustments and obtain appropriate
approvals as needed.
Keep It On Time
Identify all the steps and tasks necessary to deliver on the project by
creating a timeline that includes due dates for all aspects of the
meeting (e.g., contracts, website development, shipping of materials,
and registration phases).
Refer to the timeline during meetings
with team members and shareholders to keep the project moving and to
obtain meaningful sign-offs and approvals from stakeholders. Build in as
much flextime as possible to allow for changes and missed deadlines,
and adjust the timeline accordingly.
Meeting your timeline
schedule significantly increases the chances of meeting your program
budget, a key success factor for any project.
The budget should have a solid connection to the project objectives. If
it doesn't match up with project goals, it is the job of the project
manager to make the case for adjusting unrealistic constraints.
the risks and benefits of adjusting cost/time/scope constraints to
decision makers, and explain how such changes might impact the quality
of the delivered program. However, before sounding the alarm, make sure
all possible avenues for success within the given constraints have been
reviewed, and recommend a reasonable and workable strategy to rectify
If you're in charge of the project, you also are
the one who brings vision, direction and unity to the working team,
especially for larger, longer-term efforts. A collaborative approach
toward team members, vendor partners and stakeholders throughout the
life of the project will contribute to its ultimate success.