When you have decided what your objectives are and have broken them down into actions needed to make them happen, you need to think about the order to do them in and when. They will have a logical/logistical order. Often you can’t do something until something else is done first. Identifying the action sequences to complete the project is called a Critical Path Analysis. A critical action is one that holds up the rest of the project if not done.
You can have several action paths running at the same time to achieve different objectives. You could have a publicity action path for your event running at the same time as one for organising staff at the event (stewards, box office, bar staff etc). The path that takes the longest to complete is the critical path because any delays in this action sequence will hold up the whole project.
Looking at the operations of supermarkets can show the importance of timetables. They have large departments just concerned with the logistics of getting items from suppliers around the world to the right location, in the right quantities, at the right time. Timing and identifying critical actions is particularly important with fresh food, which can spoil if late.
When putting on a gig you may decide an objective is to put up 100 posters in a 15-mile radius by 10 February. However, you can’t distribute posters until they have been printed, which need designing first, which depends on giving the right information to the designer, which means confirming times with bands and the venue and deciding on a ticket price. The critical actions here are booking the band, venue and deciding on a ticket price. All publicity (not just posters) depends on these critical actions.
In the example above you wouldn’t want to start the publicity until the bands and venue are booked – what if you told people about it and then found out they weren’t available? This sounds obvious, but making a SMART plan will help you avoid slip-ups and remind you to do things on time and in the right order.
A good way to schedule things you need to do is to work backwards from the event. Apply SMART to your actions so they become objectives with target dates/timings, giving results that you can see and know have been achieved. See example timetables for putting on a music event in Concert Promoting Tips and pages 10-13 of Concert Ideas Guide.
Allow plenty of time to do all the things you need to, and allow time for delays e.g. the printing company may have a machine breakdown. The more things you need to do, the longer the lead in/preparation time you need to make your idea a reality.
Make a list of all your tasks for each of your objectives. Decide when you should start each task and when you should have finished them by, and note these down by each task.
A visual way to quickly see when you need to do things is to make a Gantt chart. This is a spreadsheet, with time along one axis and a list of objectives or tasks down the other axis. The chart will show the start and end time of each task and will be seen as a named block of colour in the chart.
A Gantt chart could cover several months for a whole project, or a few hours if you wanted to make one for the things that need to happen on the day of your gig.
(Image courtesy of databison.com) see How to make a Gantt Chart in Excel
To make a Gantt chart, you can use an Excel programme for simple projects.
See YouTube video How To…Create a Basic Gantt Chart in Excel 2010
As you get into more complex ones, you may need better software that is designed for project management (Google search).
Your Plan is a Tree
You can think of your aims, objectives and actions as a tree, with your aims as the trunk and objectives and actions making smaller and smaller branches. The ‘action’ twigs grow into ‘objective’ branches as you apply SMART to them. The branch junctions could be when actions have to be done so the next branch and series of actions can happen. The bigger the project, the bigger and older the tree is, giving yourself more time to prepare.
We could take the metaphor further by saying the roots are your stakeholders. Your stakeholders are everyone who are affected by the project or can affect it. They literally have a stake in the project – the people who make it happen, the people who benefit or are its customers, partners and other people or organisations that help you. The roots and foundation of your project will be deeper and stronger the more stakeholders you have because they all want you to succeed and will support you.
If you don’t like writing or making charts, drawing your action plan as a tree, or branches may help you develop your plan.
When you have decided what you want to do and when, you need to think about what you will need to carry out the tasks and how much these things will cost. How to do this is explained in Resources and Budgets.
To find the list and links to all B Sharp’s posts about event and project planning, go here: Ideas into Action
Links to other music resources, compiled by B Sharp, can be found here.