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Smart solutions to streamline spreadsheet hell in event management

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Thanks to technological development, the management of resources in an organization has come a long way, from paper and pencil, through reliable Excel spreadsheets to multiple advanced online business management systems. See how technological development has contributed to the integration of process management in an organization. Planning, organizing and measuring effects – how to optimize these processes? Using tools! Once, a sheet of paper, a pencil and the meticulousness of the head of the organization were enough. Today we have many more possibilities to avoid spreadsheet hell.

Diagrams and charts as tools to facilitate management

In 1910, Henry Gantt presented the world with a tool that revolutionized project management in organizations. Gantt drew up diagrams that were intended to indicate the critical path of the project and where it should be located.

The disadvantage of Gantt’s solution was the lack of room for communication and discussion by the organization’s staff. Gantt charts and diagrams did not include an interactive element in the process of management and describing the causes of project delays. Modified many times, the Gantt diagram, however, was not flexible at all.

The answer to this was the Project Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT), designed for the United States Department of Defense. PERT is a project management tool used to schedule, organize, and coordinate tasks within a project. What is the distinguishing feature of PERT? Each activity usually includes three time estimates: Optimistic time, Most likely time and Pessimistic time. Program calculates the variance of for each activity completion time for each activity. This, unlike the Gantt method, assumed that the timescale of a project could fluctuate, while not necessarily leading to delays in achieving the project goals, or to management in a broader context of the functioning of the organization.

Although science increasingly helped managers improve productivity in their workplaces and organizations, tools addressing communication needs that could further optimize the process were still lacking.

Project management lost in spreadsheet hell

With advances in information technology, the introduction of popular Microsoft Office suite elements such as Word and Excel has allowed managers to expand their analytical approach to projects and quickly implement multiple variables and resources into a single project.

And so managers began to produce countless Excel worksheets that contained project data such as:

  • Time spent on work
  • Separation of tasks between team members or delegating them to lower level managers
  • The value and profitability of the tasks completed

Nevertheless, these spreadsheets remained stagnant, and were left in the hands of the person responsible for updating the data they contained. This led to managers at various levels, and even whole departments within an organization, having to physically exchange spreadsheets and to copy and upload offline data. Excel chaos in bloom.

By the end of the 1980s, Microsoft had released an integrated project management system, called Microsoft Project. This enabled managers to integrate data with management projects more easily. Such data included plans and goals, assigned resources, task progress tracking, task budget assignment, and estimations of profitability.

When offline management is not enough – the dawn of online collaboration

By the end of the 1990s, the use of online communications within large organizations had become common practice in large organizations. As a result, Excel spreadsheets slowly began to take into account broader team communication.

However, comments and notes added to Microsoft Office documents remained separate from the documents themselves. Although such annotations were helpful, they often led to chaos and information noise, which did not facilitate the work of the project manager.

To improve communication and online collaboration, organizations began seeking online applications. Google Inc. released Google Docs, which was in essence nothing more than the well-known and appreciated Excel spreadsheets and text editor. The difference was that all comments and notes on the data contained within Google Docs could be posted online, in real time, and in a very specific place.

Yet the problem of integrating many processes that interacted with each other remained. To put it simply, managers wondered how easy it would be to connect multiple Excel sheets or Google Docs, so that they not only existed independently, side by side, but would also be able to interact with each other dynamically.

Online management platforms – bringing new quality to planning, organization and monitoring

This is precisely what opened up a huge field for a variety of applications, platforms, and extensive enterprise management systems to streamline organizations and optimize employee productivity.

Unfortunately, despite the high level of technology and availability of a huge variety of IT systems and programs designed to facilitate project management or even the work of an entire organization, 40% of employees using interactive management systems believe that information about the projects they work on is difficult to access and unclear. The managers themselves have a problem with monitoring processes and correctly evaluating task. The conclusion is that there remains a great deal of room for improvement in respect of data collection and communication for online project management.

Picture of two clients using Eventory Planning. Avoiding spreadsheet hell.

And what about event planning?

Nowadays, many companies make budgetary provision to send employees as delegates to a variety of industry events. Some of them are aimed at training or upgrading skills, while others, such as tradeshows and conventions, are geared towards acquiring relevant leads and as such are purely business-related. As a manager, you probably analyze your expenses for events and their effectiveness.  

An example of a well thought-out project management platform is Eventory Planning, which facilitates planning, control, pricing, and, above all, evaluation of industry events, courses, trainings, fairs and conferences to which employees are delegated. Eventory Planning is primarily a system that facilitates communication between management and employees.

Eventory Planning platform gives managers full and rational control of planned delegations. First, the platform helps to reduce the costs of employees attending events, for example by controlling the fluctuating pricing of conference tickets or facilitating contact between employees who are attending the same event.

Secondly, after the event, employees are given the opportunity to report to their supervisor easily and quickly, and to assess the merits of the event. This in turn helps managers to estimate the real profits and losses arising from a person’s participation in the event.

Finally, but most importantly, Eventory Planning is a mine of information on upcoming events. Significantly, it allows the user to register interest in a given event to his or her supervisor, who can then validate or decline the request.

Managing your organization through online platforms and systems should simplify and automate your workflow significantly, thereby reducing your costs and increasing your business profits. If your business management platform does not do this, think about changing it and simplifying your work!

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