Event Management – the Project Management underdog

Event Management is a complex field and is often overlooked by the traditional sense of Project Management due to its relaxed approach to structured delivery. However this is a misconception, as with all project managers – we all approach things differently! Events can be fairly straightforward pieces of work for training weekends and new product launches etc but the rise of large scale events such as festivals and industry conferences demanding a structured approach to presenting a business case, planning, resource management, risk & issue management, change control, reporting and stakeholder management. The role that was once deemed a “write requirements on the back of a cigarette packet” has had to change its ways, especially as even large scale festivals have had to cancel due to lack of interest – wasting time and resources. A failure in the research element could be put to blame here as the market has been flooded by such events – a huge revenue earner but only deeming real success when big names in music are headlining, and with so many to choose from naturally the greater band lists attract the majority.

Such pressures mean that events which are running need to go without a hitch – bad press for chaotic amenities and cancelled acts can damage future ticket sales.

Event Management

Here’s a word cloud taking in some of the considerations for Event Management, now that is a project plan I wouldn’t want to manage – certainly testing the length of any Excel spreadsheet and the patience of an Event PM.

The Event Project Manager, not such an underdog after all – expert Planner, Benefits Manager, and Stakeholder Specialist a great big must!

When relationships fail – project management woes

Interesting topic, as relationships are the basis of life – whether it is partners, children, pets, colleagues, or suppliers to name a few. So how do we keep a relationship healthy and happy? A starting point has to be managing expectations, you commit to a certain level of engagement and this must be clear from the outset. Most of the time, with personal relationships this tends to be easier as you agree to call or do something and as long as you keep on top of your commitments then you have a healthy relationship. In work it can be difficult to juggle relationships especially when you are very busy and are constantly asking for parties to do something for you (usually because it is in the plan). So when things occasionally go sour or you inherit a bad relationship with a client or supplier, what should you do?

Come back

  • What went wrong – talk to all involved to get a greater understanding of when the relationship started to struggle.
  • Discuss feelings – all sounds very touchy feely I know but just listening to others and letting them vent their frustrations can relieve tension greatly.
  • Listen to all points of view – don’t just listen to those who shout loudest, take time to speak with those who seem to be happy (it is often these who are just “getting on with it” grumbling under their breath).
  • How can we put things right? Having taken in all views and opinions it is time to sit down and work out a strategy to improve the working environment moving forward. Take an inclusive approach, call a meeting with all involved and talk through your ideas and reassure everyone that you are acutely aware that things need to change and will.

I remember back when I first started managing my own projects, my programme director told me to refer to the plan with workstream leads who were not prioritising my projects. I did as I was told for a while but found that this corporate threat was damaging my relationships, I decided to take a different approach, bearing in mind I was working within a matrix environment so often had to go to their managers with the threats. I decided to spend some time with each workstream lead, visiting them in their work environments, having a coffee and chat about their workloads. I found that explaining the benefits to them completing their commitments to my projects and sympathising with their woes really started to build relationships to the point that they were very honest about statuses and pressures from others within the business. From this I met with other managers to discuss how we could all get what we needed. It wasn’t completely fool proof but certainly made for a more productive and happier work environment. Just remember that yes there is a plan but just because it is there doesn’t mean it will be followed without some intervention and management of expectations.

UK Job Snobs

Interesting to hear a snobbery emerging from the 16 to 24 year olds in the UK regarding taking up jobs considered beneath them, graduates with the attitude that they should be able to walk into a role which is in the field they have studied in or trained for. For me this also begs the question as to whether those with such attitudes have ever worked at all, a Saturday job or paper round were standard for myself and my peers when we were growing up. In fact by the time I had reached college age I was so experienced in waitressing that I was managing restaurants to fund the luxuries in my life such as car and mobile phone whilst studying full time.

Work Experience

It was these types of jobs, and believe me I have delivered pizzas, worked in factories, behind bars, and even stuffed compost into plant pots at the local nursery in my studying years, which really help to build you as an employable person for roles deemed more professional but also mould you and demonstrate to employers your ability to adapt to working environments.

Here are a few skills you will gain:

  • Team work
  • Following instructions
  • Time keeping
  • Attendance
  • Complaints handling
  • Customer service
  • Commercial acumen
  • Problem solving
  • Cash handling

Now add these to your qualifications, and look how much more attractive a package you are presenting to potential employers. We all have to start somewhere; naturally all employers are a little hesitant to hand out employment contracts to those straight out of education, but those who have references and proven they can do what it takes to fund their lifestyles are naturally set ahead of those that have always been supported financially by others.

I have provided careers advice to people from all backgrounds, from graduates to Director level – the graduates I have always encouraged to take any job, if they have no experience. Ideally if you can go in at a low level role within a large organisation then you will have the scope to prove yourself and move up the career ladder, but gaining any work experience is valuable and integral to achieving your career goals. For those looking to get into project management, it is important to get your foot through the door then look to get involved in projects. This is often the case for most PM professionals, falling into the field by being asked to assist on projects in addition to your usual role. In a time of austerity, with a lot of competition for the sought-after roles you need to do everything you can to enhance your employability.

PMO CV Vs Project Manager CV – Q&A

Hi Nicola, I am a PPM professional with a mix of both managing projects and implementing/managing PMOs – I am looking to secure my next contract position and want to know whether I should have two CVs, one pitched at each audience? Nadia, PMO/Project Manager; London.

Hi Nadia, many thanks for your question – one of my favourites and aimed at all those out there who have more than one string to their bow. I believe the skill-set you have is perfect for the market today as organisations are always looking to save money so having more knowledge and experience about supporting and managing projects provides exceptional value for money to employers. I also believe it is very important for project professionals to have had exposure to these two elements of PPM; it certainly makes for a more effective environment when you have sat on both sides of the fence. Keeping this in mind I suggest you ideally would have one main CV, a “master copy” which lists all of your experience and an equal number of PMO and PM achievements. This makes the CV rather long but you can strip out the PM achievements or PMO achievements for each application as relevant. That way you are still keeping in the core experience within each remit but highlighting the achievements which would be deemed most appropriate for the role you are applying for and requires a little work for each application. Some roles may be hybrid PM/PMO positions so a combination of the two elements in achievements would be useful here.PM Vs PMO That said I always believe a little tweaking is required for every job application, ensuring the relevant information for each position is demonstrated. There is generally more emphasis placed on specific competencies within a job description / job advert so bringing out more detail in these areas, re-jigging the order and stripping back detail on the competencies not asked for will always assist you in gaining more attention from the reviewer. In regard to the detail in the role remits, always ensure you place an introductory statement before you bullet the competencies, context is very important so talking through what it was you have been tasked to achieve and some detail about the complexity, team sizes etc is important. The bullets need to talk through how you delivered, do not fall into the trap of just listing a few keywords like a job description, remember every project/organisation/department works differently so do not assume the reviewer will know what you are talking about without adding in some context.