I personally invest a lot of time in planning, trying to establish a clear flow of the entire event, creating a plan that is easily understood by the event team and leaves little to no room for misunderstandings.
RESEARCH. The event team should start the planning phase with some time allocated for research, to identify the suppliers that could cover all the needs for the event. Shortlist suppliers for location, food and beverage, entertainment, logistics, design, marketing and communication, team building activities, etc. Depending on the size and complexity of the event, this activity can take between a few days and few weeks.
NEGOTIATION and CONTRACTING. After identifying the suppliers that are suitable for the event, the team should ask for offers for the products and services needed. The first thing that you need to decide is the location and the date. The plans will be built having these two decisions in mind, as all the other suppliers will need to confirm availability for the event date. My advice would be not to go with the cheapest offers but try to find a balance between price and quality.
The project PLAN. Create a work breakdown structure for all the activities and tasks that are needed for your event. The entire team needs to participate to this activity, taking ownership for their specific tasks. The result should be a project plan that includes milestones, tasks, activity duration, start and finish target dates, and resource assignments.
The COMMUNICATIONS plan. This plan should include the means for communicating both internally and externally with the event audience. Internally, establish how the information will flow: How often will the team meet to check the project progress? How will the stakeholders be kept informed about the progress? Externally: How will you communicate with the event audience? If it is an event for the employees, how many emails and at which dates will you be sending the communications? It we are talking about a conference, how will you communicate about the event and where will tickets be available?
The RISK management plan. Every project has risks and identifying them from the beginning is very important for the success of the event. Have a brainstorming session with the team and try to think about all the things that could go wrong before and during the event, establishing also mitigation activities and owners for the risks. More information about risks management is available in this article.
The BUDGET. When most of the above activities are done, you will have a pretty clear idea about the investment needed for the event. The budget owner needs to create the budget plan and schedule the payments for the suppliers. He should know who needs to approve the payments and what the supplier contracts are specifying regarding the advance payments. A best practice is to add between 5-10% as a buffer for unexpected expenses.
The event SCHEDULE. The schedule is the flow of activities during the event. It is very important to have an exact schedule that will help the team keep everything under control during the event.