A: Dear Melinda,
In regard to your software for event and meeting planning, you need project and time management software not so much an event or meeting-planning software. Fortunately, there are many options to choose from. I find that Project KickStart is consistently the easiest to use for tracking tasks, deadlines, events, etc. It is a great product.
If you are thinking of using Microsoft Office Project, I would reconsider, because it is only useful for checklists. The amount of detail you have to enter is overwhelming, and it is very time consuming to input every minute detail. Do you really need to track every detail? Even though it takes up a lot of time, this software is perfect for very complex projects like creating a skyscraper. It is an overkill for our types of projects.
Web-based tracking systems are the newest trend. There are a few great products out there: zoho.com and basecamphq.com. These sites are easy to use, basically free (at first) and great for tracking data, deadlines, tasks, etc. Each application has various products under them that you can chose to meet your personal requirements. You should check out these sites. With these web-based applications, you, your client and your vendors can be in different locations, and you can still keep track of the tasks and deadlines—great time-saving tool!
With that said, these web-based products can be helpful, but they can also be a burden, depending on who oversees your work. They may become the nemesis of the meeting planning business; they may become micro-managers. They can track every task that you do (or don't do). All in all, they are good for getting your team to work together on a common goal. But be fore warned, do not get caught up giving too much information to your team—that will sink you!
Good luck and let me know what works for you!
Ms. Smart E. Pants
Ms. Smart E. Pants is none other than the energetic Denise Baran, CMP, CMM. With 25 years of planning experience under her stylish belt, Denise is our in-house planner and Co-Owner/VP of Operations of Spectrum Events. This meeting magnate has planned events all over the globe for associations and corporations, with groups ranging in size from 10 to 5,000. Have a burning question for Ms. Smart E. Pants? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.