Major events are capable of captivating millions of participants and viewers worldwide. However, their success requires the skill, organisation and adaptability of a dedicated team. The workforce behind an event can easily comprise hundreds, or even thousands, of events professionals, industry experts and volunteers.
When success hinges on so many variables, ensuring you have the right people for the task – and that they’re completing the task effectively – is paramount. Effectively managing a small team can be complex, but managing a substantial workforce for a major event elevates the complexity of planning and managing operations to an entire new level.
Tools for workforce planning are becoming more popular within the events industry as organisers see the value in adding efficiency, automation and adaptability to their workforce planning. These can range from event staff scheduling software to workforce capacity planning and visual dot plans.
In this blog, we explore some of the best workforce planning software features available to event professionals and explain how they can be best utilised to improve event workforce planning and management. But first, what are the top workforce planning issues that these tools aim to address?
Workforce planning issues
Workforce planning traditionally took place offline, relying on a combination of notes, printed maps and stickers. As technology advanced, the process moved in part to online programs such as PowerPoint, Excel and Visio. However, these tools, intended for a wide range of purposes, lack the specialised features that a tailored workforce planning app or software can offer.
Nowadays, most professions benefit from dedicated software, designed specifically to address industry-specific challenges. There’s no reason why events should be any different; tools used in workforce planning should significantly improve the experience for event organisers.
The number of people involved in planning a successful event varies from project to project. However, it is very rare that organisers can plan the event’s workforce without communicating with both internal and external teams. It’s especially important that the team member managing each functional area has oversight of their own workforce, even if they don’t have the final say in the planning process.
For example, an event organiser might decide on the overall number and location of security personnel, but either the event security manager, or the partner agency managing the events security, should also be aware of the plans, able to collaborate on the proposed plan, and flag any issues that pertain to their area of expertise. Additionally, multiple internal personnel and external stakeholders are likely to need visibility of the same plan, so ensuring that everyone is working from the latest version is critical to avoid errors or duplication.
Large-scale events are ever-changing, especially when there are multiple events taking place simultaneously – such as in a multi-sport event like the Commonwealth Games. If a last-minute change occurs to the competition schedule, but your team is working from printed spreadsheets, for example, it is extremely difficult to make sure all parties are informed of the alteration. The plan needs to be adaptable and accessible to successfully navigate changes to the competition schedule and effectively manage the impact on resource allocation.
Using multiple programs and tools to create plans means there is more room for error, especially when plans change. As an example, you might use Visio for dot planning and Excel for calculating your bill of quantities. If you find that you need to add an extra steward, it’s easy to add the dot on Visio. But, the extra step of switching to Excel to update the bill of quantities might be missed. As more changes occur on a larger scale, this can cause considerable problems – both operationally and financially.
The workforce is one of the most important aspects of any event, but it’s also one of the most expensive. Ensuring the right number and skill level of personnel without inflating costs, therefore, is a crucial aspect of the workforce planning process – and one that causes significant headaches for event organisers.
Due to limitations of generalised software, there’s no straightforward way of simultaneously calculating budget and headcount in Microsoft Office applications. Instead, organisers must jump from one application to another to keep track of the moving parts of their workforce, which proves inefficient and opens the door for consistency issues.
How can workforce planning tools help?
Like any purpose-built software platform, workforce planning tools are designed with the above pain points in mind. Several aspects of the workforce planning process can be optimised using strategic workforce planning software.
Successful workforce planning requires efficiency – both in terms of the process itself and its financial implications. Event workforce planning software provides a tailored solution, complete with a suite of features to improve operational efficiency.
In the Iventis Planner, for example, organisers can share live dot plans via a link, or export via a PDF, with functional area managers and key stakeholders, ensuring that everyone has the most up-to-date information to work from at all times.
Workforce planning is a complex task and can be laborious. Specialist software can automate the straightforward and repetitive tasks to make it easier for organisers.
For example, working with volunteers is a time-consuming process that can benefit greatly from the automation brought by software such as EventVolunteers. Sourcing, hiring and managing volunteers in one purpose-built platform helps streamline the process, so organisers can focus on other tasks.
By assigning attributes to your dot plans in the Iventis Planner, your workforce can be automatically populated with data points such as shift patterns, cost, role and more – meaning all workforce-related data is in one place, without having to duplicate data input. Alternatively, users can export the data into an Excel spreadsheet to work on it in more detail. This eliminates the need to re-enter the information into different applications and tools.
Dot planning in Visio, PowerPoint or on a printed map offers a degree of control, but organisers are limited by the accuracy of the map and the level of detail provided. Purpose-built software can provide the precision required for the task, so that organisers can plan with confidence.
Combining CAD drawings with maps in the Iventis Planner offers the best of both worlds. The user can plan the workforce inside the venue and around the grounds for the most precise approach possible.
Many aspects of workforce planning, such as security or stewardship allocation, depend on the number of attendees in an area. Are more stewards required in one room than another? To find the answer, organisers typically have to undertake complex calculations around the estimated capacity of the venue.
However, Analysis tools in the Iventis Planner can provide a range of instant calculations, including area capacity and flow rate. The figures align with the Fruin levels of service, so organisers know workforce plans are informed by accurate, bespoke data.
Get started with Iventis
If you’re looking for specialised software to help plan your event workforce, the Iventis Planner can help. Providing a geospatial basis for your dot plans, updated in tandem with data to inform your bill of quantities, it can significantly streamline your workforce planning process.