Learning patterns/Writing a production schedule of event
What problem does this solve?
When you are organising an event, you can keep up with preparation tasks, but at the event itself it is easy to drown in the sea of little things to be done or observed. Moreover, there are different stakeholders and/or personnel resources that need to be managed on site. Everyone needs to know exactly what they need to do — and what others are doing at the same time. This is why you need a ‘production schedule' — a detailed overview with everything and everyone in one place.
What is the solution?
Be prepared and take enough time to write down all the tasks that have to be done during the event — with times, places and responsible parties. One by one, with every detail. Then, during the event, when your RAM is overloaded — you will only need to follow the schedule.
Things to consider
1. Compile a contact list of all stakeholders involved
Ideally, creating the production schedule is an ongoing task, starting from an early stage of event planning. First, in a spreadsheet, set up a table of parties involved, such as staff, contractors, volunteers, partners, hired professionals, etc. See an example linked at the bottom of this page.
Include columns for:
- Name of contact person
- Contact number
- General responsibilities/job title
- Abbreviation for each person (ideally use the first letters of first and last name; using abbreviations saves time while filling in the schedule table, and saves space when there are many people to mention)
2. Set up template table
Continue the same spreadsheet by creating a table of tasks. Columns you want to have:
- Start time
- End time
- Action/task description
- Responsible person(s)
|Start Time||End Time||Room||Action||Responsible|
|07:30||08:15||Foyer||Set-up registration desk (2 tables, 4 chairs, tablecloth, power strips)||Venue Team, MP, DG|
|08:15||Foyer||Standby catering (coffee and pastries)||Venue Team|
|08:15||Foyer||Standby registration team||MP, DG|
|08:30||09:00||Foyer||Coffee & Snacks||Venue Team|
|08:30||20:00||Foyer||Registration slot||AC, DG, MP, VM|
3. Compile tasks
Start the schedule from the initial packing of things that need to be transported them to the event venue, and end with the unpacking of things after its end. Then, compile a table with tasks to be done in between; group them by day and order them by starting time (hour).
You will most definitely include:
- Packing things (you have a checklist for that, right?)
- Loading things and transportation to the venue
- Arrival of project members at the venue
- Arrival of volunteers, if different time
- Setting up rooms (include a detailed description on how every room needs to be set up)
- Opening the registration desk
- Start of the event
- Time of sessions (incl. titles & location of sessions)
- Time of breaks and meals (incl. what is expected to be there)
- Change of setup in rooms
- Time of deliveries (if you expect some or need to take stuff from the venue to another place, e.g. party venue)
- Volunteer tasks (e.g. ‘room angels' etc.)
- Individual pauses (you're working from early morning until late at night; you better plan in breaks for yourselves!)
- Setting up for the next day
- Checking setup for the next day
- End of shifts for volunteers & staff
- Dismantling equipment
- Packing & loading
- Drive back from the venue & unloading
Add a new activity to the schedule whenever it is confirmed (e.g. arrival of DJ to the party place).
As the production schedule might get long, you can also use different colour codes for external stakeholders (did you notice blue color for the venue team in the example rows?).
Positive side-effect of the production schedule — it is useful for your last check before the event and taking notice of last-minute things that still need to be done. (E.g. you add a line into the schedule and suddenly remember that the person responsible isn't informed about the exact hours yet, so this is your last chance to do it, etc.)
4. Distribute the schedule among the stakeholders early before the event
Print the schedule for every member of the project team, let them highlight the lines where they are responsible for tasks. For a better overview, have production schedule printed per day (not 2 days on one sheet of paper).
It is advisable to host a meeting with all project members and to talk through the whole plan — you want your team members to clearly understand their tasks and to be aware of each other's responsibilities, too. Don't forget to plan enough time for it, it's important! Send the schedule to external stakeholders, e.g. venue manager or catering service. Send this early enough for everyone to go through the list and have their questions answered. You can also have a briefing meeting of stakeholders.
5. Important things to consider when using the production schedule on site
Everyone should have their production schedule with them at all times.
Bring backup production schedules with you in case a team member forgets/loses it.
Depending on the size of the event and resources to manage, there should be at least one responsible person (ideally the project manager/person who set up the production plan) who checks the schedule during the whole event and makes sure that tasks are fulfilled by each responsible person.
Be strict in going exactly according to the schedule. Don't let your participants deviate from the schedule by themselves. Surely, some changes might happen — but ideally the project manager deals with it. Only this person should have power to shift sessions (e.g. prolong one that has valuable discussion in process), change time/places of sessions (e.g. if a speaker is arriving later than planned) — and effectively communicate the changes to all affected parties: volunteers, venue team, catering service, speakers & participants etc
When to use
You can write a production schedule, basically, for any event that is prepared by more than 1 person.
- I helped run five Edit-a-thon events in Wellington; the two organisers had been professional event organisers in the past, and they produced a "run sheet", similar to that used for a music concert or other live performance. I'd never used one in a Wikimedia event before, and I'm a convert. —Giantflightlessbirds (talk) 01:18, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
- w:Production schedule is about the term in cinema industry