By Patrick Riley

Welcome to 2024, fellow event planners! As we usher in the new year, it’s the perfect time to reevaluate our event plans. Remember, at the heart of successful event planning is effective project management ― and that starts with a good list. This isn’t just about tracking tasks; it’s the cornerstone of successful event execution, blending the essence of project management with the dynamic needs of our events.

Understanding Key Phases of Project Management According to PMBOK

Familiarity with the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) significantly enhances our planning process, even if a deep dive into every detail isn’t necessary. The most crucial phases, especially relevant to event planning, include Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing. Each phase plays a pivotal role in the lifecycle of an event, from conceptualization to execution and reflection.

  • Initiation: This is where we set our goals. Our annual kickoff call exemplifies this, where we discuss changes in the event’s scope, processes, vendors, or contacts. We hold this same meeting each year, but we feel lost if we don’t take those 30 minutes. It’s like setting the stage for the act to follow.
  • Planning: Here, based on the information we received in the Initiation phase, we map out our route as a team (not just the event route but the map for the project). It’s all about defining what needs to be done and how.
  • Execution: This is where the magic happens, our team takes the plan and turns it into action. Where checklists are the key to success.
  • Monitoring and Controlling: Think of this as our quality check, ensuring everything is on track throughout the process.
  • Closing: We wrap up and review, learning lessons for the next event. Along with paying bills and reconciling budgets.

This structured approach to project management ensures clarity, efficiency, and effectiveness in our event execution.

The Role of Effective Tools in Project Management

The right project management tool is a game-changer in event planning. In 2023, we at Event 360 realized we needed to make a shift. Our previous platform lacked intuitiveness and flexibility in notifying team members about upcoming tasks. We switched to Smartsheet, known for its user-friendly interface, like Microsoft Excel, with easy notification customization and seamless integration with Microsoft Outlook and Teams. However, it’s important to remember that project management tools don’t have to be expensive. Tools like a well-structured Microsoft Excel spreadsheet can be just as effective. The recent industry trend, including Microsoft’s announcement to update their Planner tool in 2024, shows the growing need for user-friendly project management solutions.

Setting Standards for Project Management

Establishing clear standards for project management is vital for the success of any event. Our team opts for weekly updates to keep everyone abreast of current progress and upcoming deadlines. Clarity in status terms is essential ― Complete, In Progress, Not Started, and Blocked each have specific meanings in our workflow. Task assignments are based on expertise and workload balance, ensuring efficiency and team motivation.

Adoption The Keystone of Project Management

Adoption is the linchpin of effective project management. We’re investing time in training our team on Smartsheet and planning regular support and feedback sessions. Integrating the project management tool into our daily operations will make it a natural part of our workflow, promoting a culture of accountability and collaboration. Keeping the tool up-to-date and ensuring regular updates is key.

Engagement is a critical aspect of this adoption. At Event 360, we understand the importance of recognizing and rewarding team members who embrace the process. This could be through shout-outs in team meetings, acknowledging efficient use of the tool, or even small rewards for consistent updates and collaboration. It’s about creating a culture where embracing new processes is seen as an opportunity for growth and recognition.

But it’s more than just using a tool; it’s about building a culture where collaboration, regular updates, and effective tool use are second nature. It’s about everyone playing their part to make each event a roaring success. This approach to engagement and rewards has been a game-changer, driving higher adoption rates and fostering a more inclusive and motivated team environment.


In a future blog post, we’ll delve deeper into engagement tools and their benefits, sharing insights on how we’ve successfully adopted them at Event 360 to enhance our organizational dynamics.

As we begin another exciting year of event planning, let’s harness the power of project management to create unforgettable experiences.

Patrick Riley

Patrick Riley, Senior Vice President of Accounts at Event 360, has more than 20 years of event experience, with a focus on developing great client relationships. He is practiced in all aspects of event operations – from marketing and advertising to planning and event execution. Patrick uses project management best practices to create amazing event experiences for participants, volunteers and our client partners.


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