Creating a conference or event is, in many ways, unpredictable. Using a diverse set of skills, event managers are juggling and assembling a set of unlike components into a megazord that’s meant to be a seamless and stress-free experience for attendees.
In the world of events, components come in the form of information and confirmation; things like venue contracts, session descriptions, photos, schedules, logistics, food and audio/visual components.
These components don’t always arrive on-time, and due to the nature of the work, they can come in bunches as your ultimate deadlines approach. Which means that dealing with bottlenecks can be the difference between a successful event and an unsuccessful one.
When we’re discussing event production bottlenecks, we’re examining any friction that exists in the process of organizing an event. For a more broad definition, work management platform Pipefy describes it in this way:
In a process management context, a bottleneck is a point in a determined process where the flow of tasks gets impaired or even stops entirely. Bottlenecks most likely happen because there isn’t enough capacity to handle all the task/information inflow – and by capacity, we mean all kinds of capacity: data processing, software capacity, people, etc.
So why do bottlenecks happen?
A bottleneck tends to surface when a resource involved in a phase of a process – by resource you can interpret as a department of your company, a facility or a machine – is already working at its full capacity and can’t handle any additional demand.
But have no fear! Bottlenecks can be examined and processes re-engineered to increase capacity and eliminate wasteful elements. The process of creating an event is no different; we only have to look at the flow of information from sources like event organizers, attendees, speakers, exhibitors and sponsors. When and where that information is prevented from getting to the people who need it is where the problem exists.
Sure, you could constantly email your stakeholders to remind them to send you the information you need - though we don’t recommend it.
Finding the right balance between controlling the process and allowing it to occur in the natural flow of the event is extremely important to the success of your event (as well as your mental health). While it would be nice to have one new conference speaker and one new exhibitor sign on every day, it’s more likely that you’ll receive the majority of your speakers, final floor plans and sponsors in bunches as your promotional or logistical deadlines creep up.
So, inevitably, a conference manager will receive several tasks at the same time. Arranging this information in a format that can be examined by potential attendees and sponsors can be very time consuming when it has to go through one person or a small group of people.
Eliminating the bottleneck means being able to accomplish many tasks in the same time frame - you’re not waiting on a component in order to get to the next step in organizing your event. PheedLoop’s solution is to empower stakeholders like speakers, exhibitors and sponsors to accomplish more tasks on their own with a clear deadline.
In manufacturing, bottlenecks are eliminated by increasing the capacity of one component in the process so that there’s not a buildup of excess materials or resources in earlier stages. In event management terms, you are able to process incoming information quickly so that there are few or no items left on your to-do list at the end of the day.
Technology has already made producing events a fairly efficient process. We live in a time of instant worldwide communication, digital signatures, and high-resolution photos and videos. Through the internet, we can review and sign on for speakers and venues in a matter of minutes. Compare that to the 1950s or 60s where every formal agreement would require a paper copy of a contract, perhaps a day or two to review, physically delivered and returned, and then processed by the event manager.
There are entire divisions of consultancies dedicated to eliminating inefficient business processes. Time crunched event managers, however, can use this handy technique to examine how bottlenecks happen in their process called The 5 Whys. Just state your problem and repeatedly ask why it’s happening to see reveal as many contributing factors as possible.
For example, let’s attempt to examine a common process problem for big events and its potential causes:
Problem: We are waiting on many details from exhibitors and it takes too long to post exhibitor and speaker profiles on our website.
Try this technique with your event and you might uncover some insight into the causes.
Bottlenecking is such a common problem among organizations that organize events we designated it one of the main problems that PheedLoop should address. Any event management software should enhance an event manager’s ability to collect information from many sources and get that information to the right people.
Two principles that PheedLoop relies on are enhancing self-service capabilities (our theme for this whole month) and increasing automation for the tedious and repetitive tasks that need to be completed in order to make conferences and events happen.
In case you haven’t been reading along, self-service technology is any hardware or software that helps someone accomplish their tasks (like doing research or making a purchase) without assistance from a retailer or organizer.
For conferences and events, self-service technology includes some items that have become very common like being able to look at schedules and purchase tickets online, as well as on-site technology like self check-in kiosks.
Event automation means reducing redundant work for event organizers. That means eliminating important and exporting, posting the same information on multiple platforms, sending copy-and-paste email reminders, and using apps and mobile devices for many purposes on the day of your event. For instance, if you have to post a speaker profile on your website and then go to your event app dashboard and enter the same photo and bio, you’re in need of some event automation.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re a bottleneck because the number of incoming tasks is much greater than your ability to complete them in a reasonable amount of time. You might have other people waiting to pick up your work and put their own spin on it. Work can only be pushed to the next stage in the process on your schedule. Therefore, you’re not using the full capacity of your organization.
PheedLoop lets information and tasks move to the right stage more quickly by embracing self-service and automation. Portals for stakeholders are a big part of solving the bottleneck problem.
In manufacturing terms, one of the best ways to eliminate bottlenecks is to increase process capacity. For building a car, that would mean adding more machinery so that you can build more cars at the same time from all the parts lying around.
For conferences and events, the solution lies in adding to your ability to process and approve more things at the same time. The key distinction here is, thanks to the miracle of the internet, we can have more than one person work on an event at the same time. That includes recruiting your attendees, speakers, exhibitors and sponsors.
PheedLoop is designed to recruit event stakeholders to help overcome bottlenecks. Portals are what we call the individual sections of the PheedLoop backend that are accessible to attendees, speakers, exhibitors and sponsors using a password protected log-in.
Using portals designed to help attendees, speakers, exhibitors and sponsors complete their tasks, your stakeholders become contributors to your event.
If you’re running a large-scale event, the attendee portal can save many hours by helping attendees manage their tickets, update their profile, download the event app, and answer their own questions.
Attendees can use their portals to:
Conference speakers are undoubtedly one of the biggest attractions to your event and giving them tools to make the most of their session can boost satisfaction and have a long-tail impact on the value your event delivers for attendees.
Speakers can use their portals to:
When they’re managed correctly, exhibitors can add a lot to any event in terms of attendee education and entertainment. Bringing along a booth, receiving event staff badges and other logistical aspects of the event adds a lot of complexity to being an event exhibitor. PheedLoop’s exhibitor portals helps collect and deliver crucial information for exhibitors and task lists clearly display what still needs to be done to execute a successful event. The newest feature in PheedLoop’s portals, task queue, gives event managers a list of completed tasks to be confirmed.
Exhibitors can use their portals to:
Being a sponsor without a booth is an important and increasingly common type of sponsorship. This type of sponsorship may emphasize tickets and digital presence, which is why PheedLoop makes it easy to assign tickets and add information to a sponsorship profile in the sponsor portal.
Sponsors can use their portals to:
Imagine all the people that are helping to build your event using their portals! The bottleneck has been removed and you’re now receiving information from your stakeholders.
Now, oversight is needed to make sure that there’s consistency and quality in every element that’s added. The PheedLoop feature called Task Queue is a list of completed tasks designed to give event managers a general perspective on everything that has been submitted through various portals.
When everything looks good, event managers approve the changes and they go live.
Bottlenecks are a barrier to putting on the best conference or event that you can. There’s only so much that one person can handle, so PheedLoop recruits your event stakeholders to become contributors and keeps you in control of what gets posted.
Embracing self-service technology and automation using PheedLoop can save hundreds of hours in the weeks and months before your event. Eliminating repetitive questions and emails can allow you to focus on the aspects of your event that can really impress attendees and deliver value for your exhibitors and sponsors.