Don’t Overlook the Importance of Live Event Project Management
Live events are their own special beasts. The level of collaboration, coordination, and planning they require stretches far beyond that of any typical weekly production.
These events have different needs, protocols, equipment, and vendors from regular productions, and the linchpin that successfully holds all these components together is a good project manager.
So while it might be tempting to save money by taking care of live events management in-house, it could actually hurt your budget and your event in the long run.
Why Use a Project Manager?
In the space between live event design and implementation, there’s a long and winding road. A good project manager — whether they’re one of CTS’s dedicated managers or from a third party — bridges that gap, facilitating progress and navigating potential roadblocks before they appear.
Live events management involves a seemingly endless series of time-sensitive, highly coordinated tasks. It requires a level of foresight that comes only from experience, and a bird’s-eye view that strategically organizes all the little details.
An example might best highlight the importance of having a good live events project manager.
Live Events Project Management in Action
We can see why a church would think that pulling off a live event is similar to running a Sunday service. But the two are vastly different in practice.
Sunday services are frequent, replicable activities in which everyone knows their role, their resources, and all the unspoken rules, practices, and expectations that never have to be explicitly communicated. A live event is a unique, once-a-year kind of activity; it’s fresh territory where little of the existing groundwork applies.
One church client of ours had this Sunday-service mindset and decided to run their project management in-house. They wisely appointed one person as our main point of contact, but there were operational elements the in-house manager just didn’t have the experience to plan for.
This person didn’t know to consider labor call times, or how audio, video, and lighting would all fit together in a tight space. Coordinating schedules, crews, and resources for the event turned out to be a lot more than they bargained for on top of their already demanding full-time job at the church.
Fortunately, the church was open to bringing in a professional project manager. We introduced them to someone with the experience needed to prepare for and carry out their type of live event, and everything started to run more effectively. They were able to cut people’s hours and save costs because of the improved efficiencies, and the crew was much happier walking into the actual event because of the smoother operations, especially during load-in.
Bring Project Management in Early
This client provided a great example of why live events need their own, specialized brand of project management. And of course, the earlier you bring in a good project manager, the more you amplify all their benefits.
When they’re involved from the beginning, project managers have all the runway they need to plan ahead and spot potential problems. They can get ahead of issues like staffing, schedules, equipment shortages, room layouts, and design problems. They have time to communicate plans to all the relevant teams, operators, and engineers, getting input from those corners about any possible problems as well.
The CTS Approach to Live Events Project Management
I always recommend that clients bring in their project management for live events as soon as possible for two reasons.
First, project managers have all parts of the production in mind all the time. They’re like the generals behind the battlefield; you may coordinate with people out in the field, but you wouldn’t make big changes without talking to the strategist.
When I’m working on a project, I don’t want to be the smartest person in the room. Instead, I want a professional, experienced project manager to come in to ask questions and implement strategy better than I ever could.
Second, your project manager acts as the main point of contact during the production itself. While communication can certainly happen among multiple parties, having one main point of contact on event day makes last-minute changes and requests much easier to communicate. You know exactly who to talk to, and you don’t have to chase down four different technicians in four different departments as they’re running around trying to do their jobs.
Make Live Events Project Management Non-Negotiable
Live events management is a specialized and crucial field, and bringing in your project manager early makes an enormous difference in transforming your event from idea to implementation.
So the next time you have a live event, resist the temptation to forgo hiring an experienced project manager. Let them look ahead for you, avoiding problems and creating efficiencies that save you money and ensure your event runs flawlessly.