Let’s be honest here… Nobody wants to make another spreadsheet. When you are putting on an event, big or small, you’ve already got enough on your plate. Who needs more work?
As for an event timeline, this is well worth the effort. An event timeline will keep your crew and volunteers on the same page, make your life easier, your sponsors happy, and ultimately, and your event an all-around success.
You don’t even need some fancy project management software for it. (Of course, if it floats your boat, go right ahead!) If you’re looking to keep it simple, however, here’s what you need to know.
A good event timeline is a living thing. You can add to it, share it, assign from it, and get that unparalleled satisfaction of putting a check in the box when a task is complete.
So, where to begin?
To put it simply, you start with your event date and work backwards. From there, add in all the dates by which things need to happen or be live and then the date by which you have to start hitting bench marks to make these things happen.
If your race date is September 30th, there are some simple things to put on your timeline:
Working backwards, it looks like you’ll want to have your USAC permit submitted and approved by the first week of August to avoid late fees. BUT WAIT… Your city permit is dependent on your USAC permit (and proof of event insurance), so you’ll want to bump that back another few weeks. Therefore, to be on the safe side, your USAC permit application deadline should be July 15th.
Plug in the easy ones first, and return to your event date over and over again. Event date September 30th… You’ll want to open online registration August 1st. That means you better start building your online registration page a week or so earlier. Great! You pick July 24th to start that process. But wait… in order to build your registration page, you’ll need all your sponsor logos…. New deadline to add to the calendar: collect all sponsor logos by July 1st.
And so it goes.
Typically, it is helpful to make a “to do” list of everything you need in order to make the event a success. From there, make a to do list of all things that need to get done to fulfill your to do list and calculate how long it actually takes to get those things done in order to meet your delivery dates. Plot it all out on a calendar or on a spreadsheet – whatever works best for you. Color coding is great. Operations in red. Marketing in green.
Click here for a list of items to plot on your timeline to help get you started.
Seeing how every event is different, this is obviously not a comprehensive list. The goal here is simply to provide a thought starter about beginning your process early, and in a thoughtful organized, way. You’ll be surprised by how one “To Do” begets 4 or 5 others. Capture that. Write things down and give them those satisfying checkmarks as you knock them off your list.
Most importantly, it will prove to be the key to a calm, relaxed, and successful event day.