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Electricians have wrenches and meters. Carpenters have saws and screw guns (and sledgehammers if it’s an especially fun day). But what are the tools of the trade for a production manager? True, your goal is to remain as hands off as possible but surely there are a few fun toys out there for us aside from Propared (apologies for the shameless plug), be it an event planning checklist or a handy template for budgeting, or note taking. Here are a few tangible and not so tangible things I can’t live without as a Production Manager.

1. An Assistant

Yes yes, I know, roll your eyes if you want, but despite what they tell you, it is rather difficult to be in two places at once. Having a cohort with you on-site allows for twice as many questions answered and gives you a second pair of eyes on the job site. If there’s any way to get an assistant, make it a priority.

2. Sustenance

I can’t count the number of times I’ve started to hit the wall on site only to realize that it’s only because I haven’t eaten in 8 hours. Not a fun feeling and it has the potential to affect your work. Make sure you stay fed and watered. This is another benefit of having a second person on site with you – someone can remind you to fuel up when you get busy.

3. Sleep

This article says it all. Let me know how many of these traits you like to see in someone in charge of your job site.

4. An on-site office

Particularly when doing a one-off event, we tend to hit the ground running without pausing to set up for the day. I always like to take a few minutes to establish my home-base. That way everyone knows where to find me on event day. Added bonus – when I need to print something quickly, I’m not scrambling to get my hardware set up while someone is waiting around for me.


5. A charged Cell Phone

Emphasis on “charged.” You don’t want to be the person who is unreachable because you were watching Netflix last night and forgot to plug in before going to bed. If you happen to be someone who really burns battery during the day, invest in a phone case with a rechargeable battery for extended life. A great one on Amazon could run you around $40.

6. Internet

This one can be tricky, but one of the best purchases I’ve ever made was my own Mifi device. It’s way more powerful than a cell-phone hot spot and can really come in handy when you’re setting up that gig in the middle of the Gobi desert and Wifi is nowhere to be found. Here’s a good smattering of viable options.

7. An authorized Credit Card

Break food doesn’t buy itself. When you walk onto a site, be prepared to spend money. The last thing you want is to find yourself in need of a tool from Home Depot and have to wait around for authorization. Either ask for a credit card from your company (with authorization limits – let them know you are treating this responsibly) or build into your contract (in writing) the ability to make purchases (typically up to a certain amount) on behalf of your client. Then,  invoice for those purchases after the show. Don’t bother with “petty cash.” It’s time-consuming to reconcile and we have so many better options now.

8. Measuring devices

And you thought I’d never get to the real tools.

  • Laser measure- A laser measure is probably the single best device you can have, especially on a site survey. It becomes so easy to measure ceiling heights, loading door sizes, and stage widths. No more rolling out tapes, guesstimating, or pacing things off.
  • Tape measure – Once you arrive for the load in though, you’ll need a few more tape measures. You may be responsible for finding the center of the space or plotting where the stage goes so the rest of the crew can get to work.
  • Scale Ruler – For that one measurement that wasn’t printed on the ground plan.


9. Something, ANYTHING for taking notes

Pen and Paper, iPad, iPhone…it doesn’t really matter as long as you can write something important down and revisit later.


So while event production managers may not be typically lugging a sledgehammer to work, there are some really fun tools that can make your job a smashing good time.