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Planning tools and documents

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Keeping organized is a critical part of event planning.  There are many tools and documents available that will help you with planning and staying on track for a successful event. You can find a variety of helpful online tools and templates. If you have questions or need additional guidance, please contact our office.

Helpful planning software tools

There are a variety of tools and software available when planning event. They can range from simple, free software available to all university faculty and staff to more advanced project management platforms that requires an annual or monthly subscription.

Helpful planning software tools

Microsoft Office

Most people are familiar with the range of software applications included in the Microsoft Office platform. These include document editing software like Word, that can be used to draft your planning documents such as event briefings and scripts. Another useful application included in Office is Excel, that allows you to create spreadsheets that can do some powerful functions that is perfect for your event budgets and task lists.

Google Workspace


Google Workspace offers free software that provides similar tools to Office - Google Docs, which is a word processor, Google Sheets which is a spreadsheet application, and Google Slides which can be used to create slideshows and presentations. These applications are built with collaboration in mind, and allow multiple people to edit, view, comment on a document all at the same time, and track every change that has been made to the document from the time it is created. It also automatically saves all edits, and is web browser based, so can be accessed from any computer, and documents can be easily shared with specific people, or generally via a link.

Smartsheet and other project management tools


Scrolling GIF of Smartsheet event planning template selections

Smartsheet is a subscription-based project management software. This powerful application is useful for many aspects of event planning, such as task and budget tracking, reporting, forms, etc. It's like an uber spreadsheet, with lots of functions built into an easy-to-use interface, with powerful automation and collaboration features. 

There are many other project management tools available at a variety of price points that may suit your event planning needs. Some widely used platforms include Trello and Monday, which are very visual and can help with organization and task management.

Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Creative Cloud is a powerful subscription-based suite of tools that are great for creating a lot of types of content for your event, including logos, graphics, marketing materials, brochures, programs, maps, and diagrams, and more. It does have a steep learning curve however, but there are many opportunities to learn how to use the included programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, In-Design, and others through UIT Technology Training and LinkedIn Learning

Qualtrics and Google Forms

These free tools can be used to create all kinds of forms and surveys, from simple to complex.

Google Forms is easy to use and best for simple forms, like RSVPs to free events or email list signup. Responses are recorded directly in the form as well as a Google sheet so sharing and using the data that is collected is very easy.

Qualtrics is a more powerful tool with a wider range of features that can be great for creating post-event surveys or building more complex event registration forms. It has features like skip logic, reporting, and automated email notifications that can be very useful for creating and managing your event forms.

Social Tables

Social Tables is a subscription-based tool that is great for creating event diagrams. Connect with Event Services if you are interested in using this tool.

Full-service event software

There are also many different full-service event platforms available in a range of costs that can be great for more larger, complex events. Some popular event management platforms are Cvent, Accelevents, and Hopin. See the list of vendors that have been evaluated by UIT.

Event planning documents

The documents you may use during the planning process will vary from event to event. There is no standard set of templates that you need to use, it is more determined by what type of information do you need to have and who it is for that should guide your decision. Some of the most common types of event planning documents are listed below and various templates and formats can be found online.

Event planning documents

Event planning checklist, task sheet, or production schedule

These types of planning documents are somewhat interchangeable based on the size and complexity of the event. They may have a similar function and that is to identify all the tasks that need to be completed, who is responsible for each of them and their targeted completion dates. These tools are especially helpful if you have many varied elements, such as multiple venues, catering, parking, audio/visual, etc.

Event budget

Budgeting is a critical part of the event planning process. It is important to develop an effective budget on which you can rely so appropriate decisions and adjustments, if necessary, can be made. Using a spreadsheet to track projections and expenses is the most common way to manage a budget. Your spreadsheet should include estimates for each category/expense and actuals as well as the form of billing and payment. Include a column for notes that will help you in future planning if this is a repeat event or as a general reference.

Event sheets and briefing documents

An event sheet is a complete story outlining every detail of the event include the planning, the resources, and the day of assignments. You'll include details like contact information for staff, volunteers and vendors, venue layout and information, ticketing and reserved seating details, security and parking/transportation, catering, staffing and more. It is all the relevant details for your event put into one place. 

An event briefing is more of a high-level summary of your event. Briefing documents are generally prepared for sponsor(s) to share the purpose of the event, what you hope to accomplish and what resources are available. It may also include details about the marketing strategy, the target audience, various projections, background information and photos of participants and desired results.

Timelines and scripts

Timelines are a minute-by-minute guide for the actual event that is particularly helpful for participants, staff and technicians supporting the event. Timelines include things like instructions for speakers, and cues for technicians. Since details can be specific to a particular role, one can create a speaker timeline as well as a technical timeline for all technicians. 

Scripts are a detailed document provided to speakers and/or performers to articulate their specific role in the event. It can include a speaker’s introductory remarks, event details of when and where the speaker needs to be, bios of other guests and where and with whom they are seated.

Maps and diagrams

Maps and diagrams provide information about items such as room set up, equipment placement, reserved seating, staff placement, sign placement, etc. These can be from a variety of available options such as an event services diagram created on Social Tables, a venue operations diagrams, Maps and Records provided resources or a diagram that you create on your computer. When planning an event first ask for existing diagrams and or maps for a particular venue and go from there.

Event supplies

One thing we learned over many events is to always bring a general supply bin to your event. This will contain items that the venue may not have readily available, but you might find that you need.

Event Supplies

General supply bin list:

  • pens/pencils/sharpies/highlighters
  • tape/stapler/binder clips
  • scissors/box cutters/zip-tie snips
  • paper/notepads/post-its/notecards
  • cleaning wipes/towels
  • PPE/hand sanitizer/sunscreen/first-aid kit