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Backwards Planning

"Backwards Planning" - Event Planning Strategy

What is backwards planning? Literally, it means planning backwards and it's simple! By planning a program backwards, it is easier to see that every component, down to the smallest detail, has been accomplished. Consequently, each program is turned into a successful event.

Steps to Successful Backwards Planning:

  1. List everything that needs to be completed prior to the program. This may include, but is not limited to:
    • Purchase orders (ALL PURCHASES for equipment, supplies and services should be processed on a Purchase Order form, according to institutional policy.) 
    • Promotion
    • Facility/equipment reservations
    • Refreshments/hospitality
    • Lodging/travel arrangements
  2. Based on what you know about your school's timelines, assign due dates to these activities.
  3. Using a calendar, start with the last task on your list to be completed before the program and do the following:
    • Write it on your planning calendar on the appropriate date, and then consider its components.
    • If there are components of this task which need to be completed, work backwards with them and plot them on the calendar.
  4. Proceed with the next task to be completed until all tasks are list on planning calendar.

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Backwards Planning Example

It is now September 3 and your organization has scheduled a program for November 1. As you look at the list of tasks that need to be completed, you decide that one of the components is distributing promotional flyers.

The dates you have assigned to each component of distributing flyers is as follows:

  • Distribute flyers (October 18) - promo should be available two weeks prior to any event.
  • Pick up flyers from copy center - (October 14)
  • Identify volunteers to distribute flyers (October 9)
  • Take flyer to copy center (October 7)
  • Design layout of flyer (October 2)
  • Determine text for copy (September 30)

Complete this same process with each task that needs to be completed prior to your group's program.

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