A recent survey conducted by a leading provider of event management software asked UK based event managers what was their preferred tool for managing and planning their events. The most common tool by far was event management software with 67% of the votes. Coming second and third were spreadsheets and ‘other' respectively.
Spreadsheets are a tried and tested way of managing events – they can track budgets, monitor resources and can be an effective way of creating and managing lists. The main benefit of spreadsheets as an event management tool is the low cost associated with them. The majority of event managers have access to spreadsheets and they are a widely accepted document format.
However, there are a high number of drawbacks if event managers decide to use spreadsheets as their main event management tool. Common issues include:
Poor efficiency: Using spreadsheets is not a very efficient method of managing all the aspects of an event. It is likely that event managers will be using many different spreadsheets, all with dozens of tabs, holding a huge amount of data. Managing all this data within spreadsheets can be confusing to an outsider, and time consuming for all users.
Lost data: Spreadsheets are only as safe as the server/system they sit on. If they are kept on a computer hard drive, there is a risk that all the data will be lost if anything happens to that computer or laptop. Spreadsheets are also prone to freezing/stalling and unless the event manager is accustomed to saving on a regular basis, there is a high risk that data and work will be lost.
Trouble keeping data up to date: Many events have multiple event managers, all using the same spreadsheets to organise and plan various areas. Problems arise when managers update spreadsheets without informing the other event mangers that the spreadsheet has changed. If event managers take a copy of the master spreadsheet and work on that, the master soon becomes out of date. There are also issues when more than one event manger needs to access the spreadsheet at the same time. Only one editable copy can be opened, causing the others to be ‘read only' – removing the ability to make updates.
Hard to create reports to measure success: A key part of event management is the ability to analyse event success. It is vital to have the ability to understand what makes a particular event successful and what needs to be measured in order to analyse event performance. Using spreadsheets makes this a difficult task. Although creating graphs and charts can be easy on spreadsheets, the amalgamation and sorting of the data can be an extremely complicated and time consuming task. It is quite often the case that when using spreadsheets, the activity of measuring event performance is forgotten or dismissed.
Lack of management information: Similarly to the difficulty in creating reports to analyse performance, there is also a lack of management information overall. For companies organising many events a year it's important to be able to have a clear picture of these events as a whole; understanding delegate numbers, budgets and other KPI's across all events can help shape event strategy in the future.
These issues create too many problems for organisations with many events to plan. For this reason, numerous event managers are now turning towards professional event management software to help manage their events. These software solutions have been designed specifically for the event management industry and contain a range of comprehensive, yet easy-to-use features. Common features include:
· Website Integration: Seemless integration with your website gives delegates a smoother, safer journey and ensures you stay within your corporate brand guidelines
· Online Registration: Creating fully customisable online booking forms on your own website, capturing the most relevant information from your delegates
· Online Payment Processing: Allow your delegates to pay online in a safe, secure environment
· Invitation Management: Make sure you are targeting the right prospect delegates with an integrated invitation management tool
· Email Marketing: Powerful, integrated and fully functional email marketing tool to send highly targeted email campaigns to delegates and prospects
· Badge Production: Save time by producing personalised badges quickly and effectively
· Resource Management: Simply manage all your resources though a comprehensive calendar
· Integrated Reporting and Analysis: Ensure you can determine the true ROI of your events though a powerful reporting and analysis suite – quickly and simply drill down to the event data in a matter of seconds
· Event Survey: Create integrated, customisable and automated surveys for effective feedback management.
Event management software tools also have the benefit of multiple deployment methods. Many companies choose options such as Software as a Service (SaaS) or hosting to keep costs and internal IT involvement down. Alternatively companies can still purchase the systems outright, but still gain the benefits on long term, ongoing support.