Meeting News - September 22, 2008 - (Page 42)

Live from the Forum @ TOPIC: Using Microsoft Project to manage meetings am an event manager for a nonprofit. We put on five signature events per year. Our largest conference is in Las Vegas—2,500 attendees, 350 trade fair exhibitors. Here is my question: Do many planners out there use Microsoft Project for project managing their events? I find it may be useful as a checklist. But there is no way that I can track all the minutia that goes into my events (nor do I want to put every detail in there). I don’t have time to keep up a tool like that. Does anyone use MS Project? Or, are there other products that work better for tracking tasks, deadlines, events, etc? Thanks for your input. I Do you have a burning question to ask your peers? Log on to the MeetingNews Forum to get answers fast. Maryl Hamilton, Event Manager National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, Mesa, AZ A few years ago, I was involved in putting together an SOP for our annual (3,000-plus attendees) and was required to use MS Project for the project. I have not found it to be effective for purposes of an SOP (there is way too much information), but it has been helpful in other ways. One of my staff members follows it religiously for specific planning pieces that she is learning, and it has been helpful for enthusiastic new and junior staff members to keep a line on what is going on outside the scope of their responsibilities. Your instincts [about MS Project] are right on, though—not good for the minutia and too time-consuming to keep up. Because it was a pet project of one of our execs, I have the benefit of support from our IT department to keep it (somewhat) updated. If you can’t do that, I would recommend that you stick to key/milestone dates and skip the minutia. I found the notes field helpful to add comments that are related to a specific task. I, too, would be interested in other software that helps with the task of tracking progress. If you receive ideas off-list, I would be grateful if you pass them on to me. It will soon be time to update our project timeline again, and I am always looking for ways of doing things more efficiently. Cynthia Adams, Director of Medical Meetings Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Bethesda, MD Thank you, Corbin. As an [independent planner] who works with people from all over the country and Canada, on at least four different operating systems, a web-based project management utility is exactly what we’ve been looking for. Karen Brown, Partner, Conferences by Design, Salisbury, MD I have heard very good things about Basecamp, which is also a web-based project management software: Philippa Gamse, CMC, President,, Capitola, CA Our company uses Basecamp. And, since it was enhanced, it is easier and better to use. For meetings management, it might work well actually—we don’t use it for that. The problem that I have with Basecamp is that you can’t create subfolders within a project, so many conversations get all jumbled together, and they become hard to tease apart. And everyone has their own idea about where things belong, so it gets a little chaotic. But there are some good features. We had a number of discussions about this awhile ago—you should check the [MiForum] archives. LeAnne Grillo, Partner Generon Reos and Reos Partners, Cambridge, MA Thanks, too! Web-based software is a great solution both in terms of project and time management. I am looking forward to exploring the tools mentioned. Cynthia Adams Corbin’s ideas are always great. I like KickStart—easy to use. I would point out to [independent planners] that web-based solutions also could mean your clients would “want in” and then move into micro-management of your time! Be careful! MaryAnne P. Bobrow, CAE, CMP, CMM Bobrow & Associates, Citrus Heights, CA I have used MS Project in the past to plan large, complex meetings. In my opinion, it is overkill, as it is generally designed for much more complex projects (like building an airplane)—it is like using a bazooka to swat a fly. There are simpler software products such as KickStart ( The trend, however, is for web-based products, as they can be used (or viewed) by geographically dispersed work teams (i.e., planner/supplier, on site/off site, telecommuting employees, etc). Two project management tools that are largely free—you pay for some features—are and Corbin Ball, Corbin Ball Associates, Bellingham, WA MEETING NEWS (ISSN 0145-630X, USPS No.356-010, September 22 2008, Vol. 32, No. 16 is published semi-monthly except for June, August, November and December, which is monthly, by Nielsen Business Media, 770 Broadway, New York, NY 10003-9595, tel. 646-654-5000. 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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meeting News - September 22, 2008

Meeting News - September 22, 2008
What’s Up @
Inside the Meetings Industry
People Making News
Hotels & Resorts
Convention Centers
Green Beat
Destination Insider
MN Webcast Report
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Meeting News - September 22, 2008