Wow, the title of this section — standards and procedures for project management — is a yawn, don’t you think? But read on and you might find it could be subtitled, “Who am I and what am I doing on this planet?”
Setting standards is akin to putting a name and face on how you want to be remembered. In meeting terms, do you want to see your attendees walk into the sessions wearing torn jeans and T-shirts? Or is your business culture more of the suit-and-tie nature? Having well-defined standards can ultimately define your overall message and make a firm statement about who you (meaning the company or event) are. That makes this topic sound a tad more interesting, doesn’t it?
So, in plain terms, here are your first two tips:
- Remember that standards must be measurable.
- Procedures must be detailed and establish methods for completing an identifiable task.
Remember the detailed project plan we developed in the 4.01 section that asked all the pertinent who, what, where, when and why questions? Now we need to ask more questions and get enough answers to lay out our minimum policies and procedures in plain English.
Truth be told, some of this stuff is usually printed so small or placed so poorly that nobody pays attention to it. Until there’s a problem. Say a handful of attendees’ spouses show up and stuff Danish in their pockets for the kids back in their rooms and other attendees say, “Gee, why didn’t I think of that?” Next thing you know your continental breakfast station is empty and, just like your budget, there’s no time or money to replenish it.
This could have been avoided if you’d established some simple policies beforehand. Details like making it clear at registration exactly who and what is included (or not) with the registration fee. Some attendees might find this boring, but these are necessary building blocks that establish patterns, policies and, most importantly, procedures for dealing with a multitude of event details.
If you as a planner encountered that Danish-stuffing situation, what procedure would you have in place to deal with it? You could post a staff member at each break station to watch for name badges. Or maybe you have a generous company and don’t care who eats from your buffet so you simply order more food. Maybe you provided a separate break station for significant others. Whatever you decide, you must anticipate every possible scenario that could happen before, during or after your meeting, then document the “what ifs” accordingly.
Your procedural decisions may be guided by company policies, or SOP. Don’t you feel powerful knowing that, as a planner, you have the authority to do the same with your meetings?
Great! Now your powerful self needs to think long and hard about even the most basic questions: Is the purpose of this meeting clear to everyone involved? Will people leave with new information that’s useful? Was it presented in a well-defined and easy-to-understand way?
One final reminder: Quality standards need to be measured and procedures require details, so as you establish these principles also think about how each can be measured. Sometimes it’s as simple as a post-meeting survey, but that might not be enough. Asking attendees before, during and after they participate might be a better way to gauge their expectations and how well you met them. Whatever you find, just be prepared for the truth.
Next: MBEC 4.03 — Develop a theme for your event.