The Phases of Event Production – Part IV: Wrapping a Project

This is part IV in a series about the phases of event production. Check out Part I: InvestigationPart II:Planning, and Part III: The Event for information on those earlier parts of the process.

You’ve made it! You pulled off a successful event and the client couldn’t be happier. So your job is done and it’s on to the next one, right? Not so fast. While it is important to savor the production of your event, it will not make your career. In fact, one good event is not an automatic guarantee of anything. The argument could be made that your most important work is still to come. How will you leverage your successes into more opportunities and stronger relationships and ultimately create demand for your services?

Let’s assume your work is steady for the moment. To fully wrap a project, there are some housekeeping items that of course must be addressed. This is often complicated by the face that you are frequently in early phases of other projects. On one event, you’re preparing for a site survey. On another, you may be already in pre-production. It can feel like a struggle to get the finishing touches complete on this current project. Most likely because let’s face it, the fun part is over. But remember what we addressed in the beginning? That one event does not a career make? If you find yourself failing to properly see a project all the way through the steps outlined below, this “steady work” may not last.

1. Reconciling

First things first: Estimates, meet reality. It’s time to see how you did. Let’s hope your forecasting was solid. It goes without saying (though I’ll say it anyway) that you should keep meticulous records of all monies coming in and going out during the process. Using a checklist as you go helps make your event planning smoother come reconciliation. Log all receipts, scan, and submit. Double and triple-check that everything is accounted for.  Go through and note any changes between your initial estimate and the final tally.

  • Did vendor invoices come in at what you expected?
  • Were there additional, unplanned purchases made?
  • Did things change on site that necessitated adding more crew members at the last minute?

Make sure you are able to show the cost implications of any changes. You also must ensure your labor hours are accounted for accurately. This is something that should be done at the end of every night but if you didn’t, hopefully you logged notes elsewhere to be able to make adjustments when reconciling. This could include overtime, meal penalties, or reimbursements. Sometimes you may also have to account for usage of internal resources such as your own tools.

Next make sure you have documented any broken or damaged equipment.  It doesn’t matter if it is owned by you, the venue, or rentals specifically for the event. Make sure to take pictures, statements, and repair costs. These can be critical when submitting claims to your insurance company.

2. Final Invoicing

Once you’ve combed through everything, it’s time to prepare your final invoices for the client. That’s a fancy way of saying it is time to get paid! But if that is all you are spending this time doing, you are missing out on an excellent opportunity for feedback. Sending final invoices is generally the last chance you have on this project to check in with your client, so use this time wisely!

3. Post-Mortem

When submitting your invoices, schedule a project post-mortem call or meeting with your client. Schedule one with you internal team, too. No matter how small or large the event or how the production went, there are always things of value you can learn by taking time to properly debrief.  Remember to stay positive and focus on the learning. This is not about complaining or airing dirty laundry. This is about asking, “How did we do, what worked, and how can we improve?” Here are some good questions to ask:

  • Are we proud of our process and how we worked together? If yes, what made it great? If no, what was wrong or missing?
  • Which of our methods or processes worked particularly well?
  • Which of our methods or processes were difficult or frustrating?
  • How would we do things differently next time to avoid this frustration?
  • What else could we do better next time?
  • What are some actionable items to adjust or repeat on a future project?

I also like to include a few members of the crew in these meetings from time to time.  Hearing from every level of team member can bring a wide variety of perspectives. When you’ve completed your debriefs, share your findings with the rest of your team. Even if they weren’t involved with this particular project, there may be takeaways that can affect or enhance how they manage the logistics of their own events.

 

Congratulations! You’ve successfully completed your event and set yourself up for more work in the future. With each new project, you’ll only become wiser and more adept as you develop techniques to maximize your efficiency and minimize mistakes. Now go archive this event and get started on the next one!

Do you solicit feedback from clients or team members after events? What do you find most helpful to grow as an event professional? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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