Planning pros are starved for time, and any tool that can help with project management is welcomed. But not all are the same. Here we look at some options and the strengths and weaknesses of each.
Microsoft Office has been a regular part of the workplace since the 1990s. Even with challengers such as Google Docs gaining ground, it remains the undisputed heavyweight champion of office productivity. It’s no wonder, so many organizations view providing the Office suite to all of their employees as a “necessary business expense,” paid for out of generic IT accounts instead of any one department’s budget. For the average worker, they’re “free,” and with the improvements being made in Microsoft’s collaborative software Teams, plenty of good event planning is still done using Office.
At some point, however, the limits of these “free” services become apparent, and it’s time to take things up a notch. Sharing information and working with partners and vendors outside your organization can be difficult. Here are six services that can unleash your event management potential with a heavy emphasis on collaboration.
At first glance, Airtable appears to most people to be an online spreadsheet — after all, it has tables in the name. The makers describe it as a no code way of designing customized applications centered around aggregating and linking your data, files, and tasks.
It comes with access to an enormous template gallery, many of which are designed to facilitate event management. This allows you to assign tasks, calculate dates (“two weeks out, I need to remember to call the caterer to confirm”), and keep track of budgets, all of which can be arranged to view as a snapshot on the main page of your app.
Airtable is clearly a powerful tool, but despite being able to get started right away with a template, several planners described it as a bit overwhelming when dropped into the environment for the first time.
Asana has been gaining popularity with planners recently and falls into the project management software category. It can help you organize your pre-event social media campaigns, assign and track task progress, automate and manage workflows, and keep track of files associated with your event.
Asana also has multiple event planning templates available, and after a successful program, you can save your own templates for future use. If workflows, tasks, and timelines are your priority, Asana has you covered.
Of the services mentioned here, Joi is the only one specifically designed for events. Their simple “per active event” pricing is easy to understand, and all of their features are designed with collaboration in mind — with no limit on the number of people you invite to work on your events.
Joi feels less like a spreadsheet and more like a series of forms for you to fill out. Enter all the basics of your event, and before you know it, you’re up and running. If you’re still unsure about the best way to use it, the extensive Joi Academy is filled with tutorials, guides, and videos to help you out.
For teams that can’t afford to buy a ton of licenses for software and just want a simple, event-focused app, Joi might be your best bet.
monday.com is a no-code development platform that lets you create your own project management solutions. Your best bet, once again, will be to grab an event management template and customize it for your own purposes, rather than trying to start from scratch.
Much like Airtable, you can create a dashboard to display your open tasks, current budget, email timelines, and registration numbers, all of which can live deeper in the app.
If you need the easy collaboration of Google Sheets combined with the power of Excel, Smartsheet might be the best for you. It also boasts an enormous amount of integrations with other services like Teams, Slack, Google Drive, Dropbox, and more.
It’s definitely the most spreadsheet-like of all these services, so for those coming from Excel, it should feel familiar. Templates are available for event management, but Smartsheet clearly wants to be the online spreadsheet solution for your entire organization.
With Trello, we’re back to project and task management. Trello uses a simple cards and columns user interface that’s clean and easy to understand, and one that’s been copied by software vendors around the world.
It’s easy to use on first launch but then lets you go deeper with dashboards, automations, integrations with other software, calendar management, and other tools. What it lacks in hardcore spreadsheet functionality, it more than makes up for in simplicity and ease of use, which can make adoption with your team a snap.