It is typical of an event and association management company to be managing several events and/or association events simultaneously. In such a busy environment, it is easy to become disconnected to the other events being organized in the office. Each event can run almost exclusively from another as well as the staff involved. While this may happen naturally, it is important to try and avoid this tendency to a certain degree. Information sharing in the office is a worthwhile exercise for a number of reasons. I will outline some of the main benefits to information sharing in the office as well as some of the methods that we employ in our office.
Before I get started, it is probably a good idea to clarify exactly what kind of information I am referring to when I talk about “information sharing.” In order to realize the benefits that I will outline next, it is important that all members in the office know the major details of any upcoming event. Four of the five W’s should do the trick – who, what, when, and where. Who is attending the event, what is the title of the event and the overall format, when is the event taking place, and where is the host venue. This information is fairly basic and easy to relay to colleagues however it can improve efficiency in the long run.
Help colleagues keep their inbox and voicemail count down
The first benefit to information sharing in the office relates to staff members’ ability to answer simple questions. If everyone in the office has a basic understanding of an event then those details can be relayed to delegates who phone the office or come into the office with questions. This is a huge help to the project manager and assistant as it decreases the number of emails or voicemails they receive with basic questions and gives off a better impression of the team responsible for the event. Staff members who are working directly with the event should be the main point of contact if they are available, however if they are not around then the person asking for the dates of an event, should not have to be transferred to someone’s voicemail. The person on the other end of the line is happy and the colleague working on the event is happy with one fewer email or voicemail to address.
Share experiences and resources
Another benefit to basic information sharing in the office is the fact that colleagues can act as great resources. There are various elements to events that colleagues can offer assistance in the form of personal experience or connections. Take entertainment as an example. The event that you are managing is looking to hire a jazz quartet. Maybe a colleague just hired a similar band for another event that they can recommend or maybe they know someone personally that you can be put in touch with. Colleagues can act as resources in virtually every element of an event because they either have experience with it firsthand or they know of someone who does. This creates another level of efficiency as research time can be significantly decreased. It also allows for a greater level of confidence in the planning process as the information comes from direct experience and has been tried and tested.
Implementing information sharing
It is clear that basic information sharing is worthwhile so now it is time to talk about implementing the exercise in the office. At our organization, we use two straightforward yet effective methods. The first, we refer to as “Event FAQs”. This is a template that is completed by the project manager and project assistant responsible for each event. The template asks for basic information: Title, Date, Time, Location, Address, Prices, Description, Speakers, Capacity, and How to Register. Once the template has been filled in, it is saved in a shared folder for all staff members to access (see my blog on file sharing). A copy of the information is also printed and added to a “Current Events” binder which is kept at reception. It is then readily available should someone be covering the phone who is not directly involved with the event.
Event updates at staff meetings
The second way that we share information in the office is at our monthly staff meetings. At the beginning of the meeting each staff member gives a brief update on the event that they are working on. They share some of the highlights from the planning process as well as any difficulties that they may be facing. It then becomes an open discussion during which time colleagues are invited to ask questions and offer input or suggestions should there be a need. This informal type of discussion is a great example of using colleagues as resources which, in turn, results in improved efficiency.
Although it may seem straightforward to have basic information sharing in the office it is easy to overlook when events run exclusively from one another. Adopting more of a team approach to event management will result in a more supportive environment and allow staff members to work as efficiently as possible.