Event Management

by Rus Slater

Event objective

Do you have an appropriate objective?

The event objective, goal or mission should not be confused with the justification:

  • The justification may be ‘to generate £X million revenue by the sale of the properties forming the Glebe Meadow Development’
  • An event arising from this justification may have the objective ‘to manage the launch of the Glebe Meadow show house, generating at least 35 qualified enquiries by close of business on the launch date of the 26th of September 2008’.

So the justification is the aim of the overall activity of which the event is a part; the objective of the event should be specifically related to the outcome of the event itself, within the larger framework.

The objective for an event should be SMART

  • Specific: so there are no grey areas regarding the nature of the objective. Are you going to ‘hold an open day’ or ‘host a recruitment fair’?
  • Measurable: so that you can assess the success of the event on completion. You will need to assess whether the event met its objective and, if it exceeded or missed it, by what amount. If you are hosting a recruitment fair, how many potential employees do you want to find? And how is ‘find’ defined?
  • Achievable: so that the team do not believe they are charged with a forlorn hope. The event team should have input to the plan in terms of its composition, duration and quality targets. Due to the nature of events, it is often the case that someone takes an informed guess at the duration and budget for the event and this then gets set in stone, before the detailed plans are laid. Event plans are subsequently shoehorned to fit dates and budgets. Where the dates and budgets are necessarily set before the team lays the plan, the resources must be calculated according to the fixed targets.
  • Relevant: to the business case or justification for the event – so this is a good time to test the justification!
  • Time-bound: so you know exactly when to expect delivery of the event outcomes (see ‘Achievable’, above).

Is there more than one objective?

An event may have more than one objective, but there should only be one main objective. It is acceptable to have a main and some secondary or consequential objectives, but if the main objective is to show our appreciation of and say good-bye to Henry after 35 years of service and the secondary objective is to give everyone a good party, you have failed if every one missed the speech of appreciation because they were all watching Jacqui on the bucking bronco rodeo ride in the room next door!

And the objectives can easily run out of control...

What about ‘scope creep’?

‘Scope creep’ is the term for the slow, evolutionary expansion of the objective of an event during its lifecycle. For example, you start with the intention of holding a simple dinner dance. Then someone asks if you can also have speeches to thank certain people. Then someone asks if you can also launch a new product at it. Suddenly you have three hours of speeches and a need for a projector.

Scope creep can be avoided by having a SMART objective up front, so that each request can be assessed against whether it falls within the parameters of the event. If the answer is ‘No’, then it can only be added if there has been an adequate assessment of the impact of adding it part way through, and after appropriate changes have been made to the plan to accommodate that impact. This process is called Change control.


It is quite possible that you will come up with your objective and then want or need to change it in the light of the research you undertake. This is not a problem as long as the objective is formally re-written, so that all the stakeholders are aware of the changes.