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Earlier this week Travis Walker of Michael Riotto Design (MRD) was kind enough to sit down with me to discuss some of the managerial challenges he faces on a daily basis. Part of Travis’ work centers around managing installation projects on cruise ships, many of which take place in dry-docks and at sea in all corners of the world.

As is the case with many of us in the live event industry, Travis is responsible for wrapping his head around a daunting number of personnel and logistical considerations on many projects simultaneously. Travis is further challenged by often having to integrate with construction companies that approach job sites with different sets of expectations and often, drastically different tools.

Currently, he uses a variety of programs for efficient project management. He often begins in Excel by laying out preliminary quotes and schedules. Once a project is confirmed, Travis copies the information into Google calendars to get a handle on his company-wide, long-term schedule. There he can plot multiple projects and look across many months to get a good 30,000 foot view of his responsibilities. Once big-picture schedules are figured out, Travis then moves on to MS Projects to lay out job-specific tasks.

“MS Projects is great for identifying multi-day tasks within a large project but struggles with specific tasks and daily schedules. Also, it only allows me to open one project at a time, preventing me from analyzing information between projects or easily switching between them.”

He noted that after all these steps, he then returns to Excel to break down smaller tasks and daily schedules.

“Despite all of these tools, I still don’t really have a good understanding of what is going on hour to hour. With all the last minute schedule changes, I need to make sure my team is using its time efficiently.”

As a result of using so many programs, Travis finds himself spending huge chunks of his time transferring information from one program to another in order to make sure everyone in the office and in the field understands what is going on.

Travis’ story is the recurring theme we hear from managers across the industry: a complicated workflow, defined by juggling project details across multiple programs and hours spent copying information back and forth and back again. And the more complicated the projects, the more difficult managing event logistics becomes. We’ve have had these frustrations, too.

We all need a better grasp of what is going on across all of our productions, integrate our daily schedules, and share information with our crews and project leads so ultimately, we can save both time and money.

  • What programs are you using?
  • What parts of your process leave you wanting to pull your hair out?


MRD is an award-winning architectural lighting design and build firm. For more information please visit their website: