Julia Rutherford Silvers, CSEP

Certified Special Events Professional

Event Management Authority

Like angels and elephants dancing on the head of a pin, our dreams and responsibilities may have no limits, but must be balanced according to the music of the moment.









Information Management

27 November 2013

The acquisition, distribution, control and retention of information through the implementation of customary reporting, record keeping, and protection procedures for privacy and proprietary information to ensure the necessary business intelligence and institutional memory is captured and preserved.


After reading this article you will understand how to

  • acquire the information and data surrounding and supporting event projects

  • organize information in ways that ensure efficient retrieval

  • develop distribution systems that facilitate effective information sharing

  • determine suitable storage methods for preserving information

  • establish policies and procedures that protect information from loss or corruption

Major Functions

Performance Elements


Collect pertinent data and information

Conduct research and review historical records

Analyze, interpret and evaluate information

Process information in appropriate formats


Establish standardized documentation procedures

Organize information according to needs

Develop and implement information retrieval systems

Understand and manage information technology systems


Develop information distribution standards and structure

Create an event production guidebook

Establish data reporting and monitoring systems

Communicate information using various methods


Develop record keeping procedures and filing systems

Retain required documents and records

Establish information preservation policies and procedures

Understand and employ appropriate storage technology


Specify methods to maintain system security and integrity

Create and implement information access controls

Develop and enforce privacy policies

Comply with intellectual property protection requirements


Information is a fundamental component of planning and producing events. It provides the basis for initiating, planning, implementing, supervising, and evaluating an event project. Information is needed for strategy development, decision making, resource allocation, and problem solving. It is involved in every administrative, design, marketing, operational, and risk facet of event management. Information also facilitates collaboration, innovation, enhanced performance, and continuous improvement.


Information management encompasses the acquisition, organization, distribution, retention, and control of information throughout the lifecycle of an event project and the endeavors of an event organization. These activities have specific functions, but are interrelated and affected by each other and must consider the information users, objects, and processes when devising the management system. For example, if you traced a single item of information, such as the event date, throughout its use for an event project, you would see how it touches every part of the event.


Overview of Information Management


The information management system must consider who will need the information, what they will use it for, where they will find it, when they will need it, and why they need it. The system must also consider the format and value of the pieces of information it is to accommodate, which can range from physical documents to electronic data and communications, and public to private or proprietary information. Finally, the system must consider the processes used to acquire, access, distribute, retain, and control information, which is based on both its users and the nature of the objects or items it contains.



From the simplest contact listing to an analysis of global visitor trends at tourism events, the scope and nature of information surrounding an event project could be vast depending on the type of event being produced. Capturing the data you need requires an understanding of the purpose and uses of the information required, the sources for where to find it, the methods for acquiring it, and the formats in which it will be processed.


To give you an example of the scope of information surrounding a single event project, one meeting planner I spoke with reported that the on-site documentation needed to manage a recent four day meeting for 300 people encompassed more than 3,000 pages of specifications, contracts, transportation schedules, and other documents. The range of information and documents typically used in planning a conference are shown below.

Typical documents used in meeting and event planning

Accident/incident reports


Articles and by-laws

Attendee brochures

Audience polling


Banquet event orders (BEO)

Change orders


Conference handbooks

Conference pack/kits







Event history 

Exhibitor manuals

Feedback forms 

Floor orders 

Housing reports

Inquiry cards 



List of attendees

List of participants

Mail and messages 

Meeting minutes 

Message boards



On-site registrations 

Online registrations 

Packing lists

Payment orders 

Place cards 

Post-convention meeting (Post-con) 

PowerPoint® presentations

Pre-convention briefing (Pre-con)

Preregistration lists 


Program books 

Proposals/bid quotations



Registration kits 

Release forms 


Requests for proposal (RFPs) 

Rooming lists 


Speaker abstracts



Tour vouchers

Training materials




Web sites


You will locate, create, and receive data throughout the event project. This information is generated through research, communications, and administrative operations. It must be assessed for relevancy, accuracy, and urgency. Finally, it must be captured or configured in suitable formats according to the operational and regulatory requirements of the event project and event organization.


Collect pertinent data and information

Information is useless if you don’t have it. Capture, assemble, and otherwise obtain the information surrounding and needed for the event project. The first place to start is to document every decision and everything done in conjunction with an event project or for the event organization. This documentation provides evidence of actions taken for current and future use, and should be a standard operating procedure.


Include internal and external paperwork, physical and digital records, as well as written, electronic, and verbal communications in your information acquisition activities. Take notes, summarize, and confirm verbal communications in writing. Review the types of documents you currently use, such as forms or checklists, and determine if these are sufficient for your needs. Determine what types of information you could not remember or had to seek out for your last event project and create a documentation method that will capture it this time.


Integrate data collection into the functionality of your various systems. For example, collect full contact information in online registration or volunteer recruitment systems, which can then be transferred to a multi-functional database system. Keep in mind, however, that you are only allowed to collect certain information, and you may only collect it in acceptable ways. This is particularly true for personal information and competitive intelligence.


Conduct research and review historical records

Acquiring the information necessary for an event project virtually always requires conducting research and reviewing the records of previous events. There is no reason to reinvent the proverbial wheel; however there is every reason to improve its design. This is particularly important in the initiation phase of an event project, but research and records review is typically necessary throughout the rest of the event project lifecycle as well.


Research, simply put, is seeking out information. You might be looking for current marketing trends, electronic registration capabilities, economic impact data, best practices in managing risk, or supplier sources for the goods and services you plan to procure. The more reputable the sources of this information, the more likely the information will serve your conclusions and decision making well.


The historical records of your previous events, and reviews or observations of comparable events, contain vast amounts of practical data and lessons learned. Just like avoiding reinventing the proverbial wheel, there is no reason to repeat mistakes (vow to only make new mistakes). Everything from timelines to site plans, committee reports to publicity campaigns, and every other piece of documentation has a story to tell if you know how to read it.


Analyze, interpret, and evaluate information

The information you acquire must be analyzed, interpreted, and evaluated regarding its relevance and accuracy. This assessment ensures you understand the information, can integrate it into your systems according to needs, and can rely on it to meet your needs. Similarities, anomalies, and gaps can reveal strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.


Consider, for example, the list of sponsors for your previous event. Is the list complete and are the contact names and numbers current? Are there duplications in the types of sponsoring companies? Are there potential sponsorship opportunities for companies allied with current sponsors? Are there sponsors that would likely increase (or cancel) their investment in the event? Are there sponsorship packages that were not sold? Which event project teams need to know this information? Answers to these questions (and more) help direct your sponsorship program activities for the current event.


Process information in appropriate formats

Information is received or acquired in verbal, written, and digital formats, which might or might not be the format in which it should remain. Most information needs to be converted to a written format, either as a physical or electronic document (or both) for distribution, retrieval, and protection. However some types of verbal or visual information might need to be recorded for evidentiary or programming reasons, such as before and after walk-through videos of an event site with its owner or a webinar that will be offered as an on-demand product.


You need to know the purpose and uses of a certain piece of information to determine the suitable format(s) it should be kept in. As with any assessment, know the who, what, where, when, why, and how.

  • Who needs it (and who should not have access to it)?

  • What will (or could) they use it for?

  • Where will (or could) they go to find it?

  • When will they need (or attempt to get) it?

  • Why do they need (or want) it?

  • How will they get (or attempt to get) it?

Operational information typically needs to be quickly accessible and easily communicated, often in written form distributed electronically such as via e-mail. Regulatory requirements typically specify physical documents and precise display and/or storage procedures. This can include such things as permits, tax records, insurance certificates, etc.



As previously noted, there is an incredible amount of information surrounding an event project. This information is acquired from many internal and external sources, and required by many internal and external users to accomplish the goals and objectives of the event project. An information management system is needed to organize this information in a manner that takes into consideration the ways in which it is created, used, stored, and distributed, as well as its accessibility, availability, and arrangement.


The first component of an information management system is establishing a standardized documentation procedure that specifies the purpose and design requirements for documents or data to be included within the system. This is needed to facilitate the classification of information according to use and users, and the proper placement and arrangement of data so it can be accessed as needed.


The structural design of an information management system (acquisition, organization, distribution, retention, and control) is fundamentally based on information retrieval – the ability to locate information when needed, by those who need it. For small event projects this might consist of a set of folders in a physical or digital filing cabinet and some event project notebooks. Larger events or event organizations often use technology systems to manage the data.


Establish standardized documentation procedures

Documentation is a fundamental process of event management, stipulating the need for information throughout the lifecycle of an event project. Establishing standardized procedures for documentation and document design provides clear guidance to all system users. It also reduces gaps, errors, and effort. Once these procedures are devised and users are properly trained, the functionality of the system achieves its retrievability objectives.


A key component of this standardization is document design for internally-generated records, which includes format, content, level of detail, and naming conventions as shown below. You should develop document templates based on these four features so that adherence to procedures is easy and consistent. For example, fill-in forms for incident reports or change orders instantly show users what information is required.

Design features of a document management system


Nature and purpose of document

Type and function of document

Distribution and workflow routing

Integration within the system

Collaboration functionality


Type of information

Collection or dissemination of information

Author or source of document

Access rights (confidentiality)

Level of detail

Scope of information

Message or data

Action(s) required

Options, deadlines, checklists, etc.

Contact information

Naming conventions

Unique document identifiers

Title or definition of document

Date and attribution

Version of document

Repository directory


Example of document design features


Organize information according to needs

The information management system must organize its contents in a way that allows those who require the information to find and retrieve it efficiently. Within an event project this might include categories aligned with the management of the event such as budget, schedules, procurement, correspondence, and contact lists. However, you must consider the life of the information to be stored to ensure it will be accessible to future users; therefore broader categories would likely be necessary.


Some of the methods used to identify, organize, and position information include alphabetical, categorical, chronological, numerical, topical, departmental, and/or project coding. Typically contact lists are alphabetical, financial records chronological, staffing plans departmental, and so forth. Supplier lists might be categorical and/or geographical. Project coding might be chronologically numerical or color coded categorically by type of event. Determine which methods to be used based on your needs and users when designing your information retrieval system.


The method(s) chosen to organize information are incorporated into the document naming conventions, which are incorporated into your document design strategy discussed above. The organization method is also factored into the system used in your integration processes, as well as the distribution, retention, and control aspects of the information management system and the technology used for it. As you can see, everything is interrelated and interdependent, but the system usually develops over time as the event organization matures


Develop and implement information retrieval systems

Everything surrounding an information management system is focused on the capability to retrieve information, and retrieval systems rely on a standardized classification system. Classification systems provide a way of describing items and ideas, a way of locating information, and a way of seeing relationships. They provide a shorthand description of an object within a category and a way to group it with similar objects or concepts in meaningful clusters using a structure capable of indicating association by context placement.


For example, how do you locate a document in your computer, a book in a library, or a web site on the Internet? In your computer, your documents are usually filed in folders that you have labeled with short descriptive names; and the computer will not allow you to use the same name for a document within a folder or a folder within another folder. In a library, books are numerically coded and you typically find them using the author’s name or title of the book; and when you locate the book on the shelves you can see other books with similar topics grouped around it. On the Internet, you typically type key words into a search engine, which will bring up a list of web sites that relate to the key words.


For your event, consider the function each type or piece of information will and could serve. Think about the various people who will use it, and when, to do their job. How is it acquired and how many places will it need to go? How is it communicated or distributed within your event project team and to external stakeholders? Your assessment of the information acquired will identify the scope and nature of its use and its integration requirements, which informs the information retrieval system’s classification design.


As noted before, a single piece of information can touch every aspect of a current event and future events, therefore document duplication and/or cross referencing might be needed to accommodate the various usage attributes. This is accomplished easily within a computerized system, but will still require a standardized classification system including an index or directory so that those searching for a document or data can narrow their search to the most probable location within the system.


Understand and manage information technology systems

Information technology (IT) systems are computer- or web-based systems, services, and software applications designed to acquire, store, sort, compile, communicate, and protect information. These include such things as databases, networks, word processing programs, spreadsheet programs, scheduling programs, online registration systems, transaction processing systems, and countless other tasks and functions previously done with paper and pencil.


IT systems can automate administrative tasks, serve as a warehouse for information, create documentation, generate reports, facilitate data integration, and provide a platform for internal and external communications. Unless you have a system designed specifically for your event organization, which is a very expensive undertaking, there is no single software application that will do all these things; but you can select applications that can “work” with each other using similar formats and cross-functionality, such as bundled packages from Microsoft, Apple, etc.


The hardware and software you choose and use for your system should be shaped to the workflow process so that it improves productivity, supports effective decision making, and protects vital and confidential information. For example, you might invest in housing management software to arrange hotel accommodations for participants in an annual national cycling tour. Such software includes relational database that can automatically change a sort field item (such as name, e-mail address, or emergency contact number) throughout the system, and can automatically generate updates and other communications.


There are thousands of information management software products, services, and apps (applications) to choose from, with more developed every day for practically any function you might want to perform. Avoid purchasing them just because it’s “the latest thing” and seems to be popular. Make your investment (money and effort) decisions based on who will be using the system and how, its ability to enhance productivity, and what will be scalable as your event organization matures.



Information is a dynamic asset of an event project and event organization. It comes in, gets processed into the information management system, and flows out to those who need it, when they need it, to accomplish goals and objectives. Similar to money, information is intellectual capital that is disbursed according to necessity, priority, and urgency. If the information distribution needs are not clearly defined, valuable and important data will languish in the system and be worthless.


The facets of the flow of information

Distribution standards and an infrastructure must be established so the flow of information is timely and effective. The capability of this flow increases in importance as the start of the event nears, and becomes critically important once on site and the event has begun. The information distribution system must take into consideration the communication needs associated with the workflow of the event project, some of which can benefit from technology, but must also include actions to be carried out by individuals.


Develop information distribution standards and structure

Information only has value if it is made available and shared, which occurs formally and informally. This sharing, or distribution, is enhanced by creating policies and procedures that standardize formal information sharing and circulation. Generate and integrate standard operational documents for your event project or event organization into a distribution network that is configured according to the organizational structure and workflow of the enterprise.


For example, your event provides T-shirts for volunteers and your procedures require a purchase order for purchases above a certain amount. The volunteer coordinator submits a requisition for the 150 T-shirts; the event manager approves the requisition because it is in the budget; then the office manager creates a purchase order and orders the T-shirts. The invoice for the T-shirts arrives with the shipment. The volunteer coordinator checks the shipment for accuracy and delivers the invoice to the office manager, who matches it to the purchase order and routes the invoice to the accounts payable department.


Recognize the value and impact of information and establish policies regarding distribution, particularly with regard to internal and external receivers. An internal report on a decision, action, incident, or acquisition might include information that should not be communicated outside the organization; however the report might be widely distributed once private or proprietary data is removed. Determine who needs to know what information and distribute that information to only those people.


Create an event production guidebook

The tempo and intensity of information sharing typically increases significantly as the event approaches, and becomes crucial during the event. Preparing an event production guidebook, often called the specifications guidebook or the event bible, ensures you have the documentation you might need to instruct, verify, and monitor operational activities just prior to and when on site at the event.


The guidebook typically includes documents used to check arrangements, confirm agreements, illustrate compliance, and locate and communicate with staff, vendors, participants, and other stakeholders. Key documents include contact lists, schedules, contracts, site or floor plans, significant correspondence, and other pertinent reference material. Unless required for compliance reasons (such as permits), documents in the guidebook should be copies, not originals.


The scope, scale, and complexity of your event project influence the amount of documentation and information to be included in the event production guidebook. You might not need the 3,000 pages the meeting planner needed for that four day meeting for 300 people, or you might need a great deal more. Duplicate books or sections of the master guidebook might be prepared for specific committees or team leaders.


Certain portions of the guidebook contents might be stored on a digital device such as a laptop computer, tablet, or smart phone, but digital documentation has its limitations. There are times when you need a paper document in order to share on-site information. For example, you would not give your expensive tablet device to someone to take to a team member on the other side of the event site to confirm the layout of a stage set-up because that would leave you unable to access information.


Establish data reporting and monitoring systems

It is clear that vast amounts of information surround the production of an event project, even a fairly small and simple one. In order to increase efficiency and the effective acquisition and distribution of data, develop reporting and monitoring systems that automatically generate and circulate information in a timely manner. Such systems can be procedural and/or technological depending on the protocols and capabilities of the information management system and the nature of the event organization.


The features to incorporate into your reporting and monitoring systems include collecting pertinent data, scheduling reporting functions, and disseminating information according to needs. Collecting information regarding the status and effectiveness of planning decisions allows you to react to performance irregularities and changes before they become problematic; in other words, change management. Standard operating procedures are important, but there will always be surprises.


Your systems should specify the timing and routing of information, as well as the versioning protocols such as date, iteration, or status identifiers. These functions are often incorporated into technological systems so that reports are automatically generated, electronically routed to appropriate individuals, and instantly stored in the system’s filing structure. If your system is not technology-based, establish the procedures for doing all this manually.


Determine which types of information should be delivered using a push method (delivered automatically to an individual by the system) or pull method (acquired from the system by the individual). For example, a committee report might be sent as an attachment to an e-mail to all affected stakeholders (push); or an e-mail could be sent saying the report is available for stakeholders to retrieve if they wish (pull).


Communicate information using various methods

Sharing information requires communicating information, which includes verbal, written, aural, visual, and electronic methods. The methods used are determined based on the nature of the information to be shared, its intended receivers, the environment in which it is shared, and the purpose and urgency of the information’s distribution.


Communication often involves a combination of methods to ensure the intended receiver accurately comprehends the nature and content of the information. Use written materials in conjunction with oral communication, and vice versa, particularly for confirmation of receipt and/or understanding. Use graphics or pictorial visuals to reinforce written instructions or verbal presentations. Use gestural visuals, such as hand signals, or aural signals, such as whistles, when verbal or written communication is not feasible or sufficient.


Information sharing takes on a more dynamic and urgent character once on site during an event. Noisy environments, changing conditions, time pressures, critical situations, and physical and emotional stress all converge to make communication not only more imperative but more difficult as well. This is when your communication skills will be tested; make certain you are prepared.



The information acquired and generated by the event project or event organization will only be able to serve current and future goals and objectives if it is preserved and stored. Information retention is the facet of the information system that captures and maintains this intellectual capital in a way that archives data objects and records according to the needs of the users, the object’s format, and the lifespan of the information.


The design of the retention or storage system is directly related to the organization and retrieval systems discussed previously. Record keeping procedures and filing systems must be developed, and methods for efficiently gathering, keeping, and disposing of documentation must be devised. Storage methods and technologies are based on the type of data and its physical medium, which can range from paper or electronic documents to physical or digital photographs and recordings.


Determine record keeping procedures and filing systems

Record keeping procedures and filing systems ensure your ability capture the data and documentation needed for the current event project, and that these records can be found when needed. The main objectives for record keeping and filing include consistency, completeness, and coherency. If any one of these three objectives is not met, achieving the purpose of retaining records is severely limited.


Establish record keeping procedures that encompass the types and nature of the records to be kept, who is to be responsible for creating them or entering the data, when they are to be generated, and where they are to be stored. Make certain those responsible for these tasks are given sufficient training so they can perform these functions accurately. Facilitate consistency, completeness, and coherency through document design and process standardization.


Implement paper and electronic filing systems that are organized in a way that will make sense to the user and be easy to use. Create protocols and procedures for the classification of records and data, the insertion of records, the access to and removal of files, the updating of files, and the backup of electronic files. Make certain you have a way to audit the use and location of records, and monitor this usage so you can make improvements as appropriate.


Retain required documents and records

Although almost all the records and data generated by an event project or event organization have value and should be retained, there are some documents and records that must be retained due to legal, regulatory, or fiscal requirements. Depending on the jurisdiction and the type of event organization, these might include financial, employment, membership, insurance, and other records, as well as contracts, agreements, compliance, ownership, and other business documents.


Also consider your operational requirements for records retention. These records might include budgets, volunteer records, schedules, site plans, purchase orders, attendee lists, and other documents. Determine the format requirements for documents and records to be retained. Some documents must be originals; others may be physical or computerized copies. Consult with your legal and financial advisors to determine your document retention responsibilities.


Establish information preservation policies and procedures

As noted, there are often vast amounts of information surrounding an event project, and much of this information is or can be valuable to the future endeavors of the event organization. You should devise policies and procedures that give structure to your storage system and protocols for preservation formats, number of copies, and distribution within the storage system, including where records are to be stored, for how long, and how they will be disposed of (deleted, transferred to a historical archive, or destroyed).


First and foremost, ensure computerized records are backed-up on a regular (and frequent) basis. For example, saving work product documents on a USB flash drive (also known as a memory stick or thumb drive) when finished with that document and running a full back-up at the close of each day is a useful protocol. It is also advisable to keep a copy of the computer back-up in a separate location.


Many legal or regulatory documents must be preserved as originals, but you can also scan these and other event materials so you have a digitized copy to include in your back-up procedures. Additional preservation policies and procedures might include, among others, the following.

  • Save all e-mails in event-specific file folders in your documents system as well as within your e-mail system.

  • Delete all credit card numbers and other private data from registration databases once the event is over (and transactions are complete).

  • Determine the archival and disposal hierarchy for documents and other materials (schedule, location, and method).

  • Scan event photographs and marketing materials.

  • Order and save sufficient duplicates or copies of all marketing materials, posters, and souvenir merchandise for future marketing strategy development and sponsorship solicitation.

  • Delete outdated records as appropriate (e.g. Date/version, client, supplier, volunteer, sponsor).

  • Destroy paper documents (including badges, charts, manifests, etc.) By shredding them instead of discarding them.

  • Maintain an inventory of records disposed of.

Understand and employ appropriate storage technology

Storage technology can range from cardboard boxes to filing cabinets to computers to web-based storage services. You must consider the type of data and the media in which it is (or will be) formatted when determining the levels of technology suitable for your storage systems. As with all facets of the information system, storage methods must facilitate information retrieval.


With any storage technology used, items within it must be segregated appropriately and clearly identified and labeled so it can be recognized “at-a-glance.” Paper or electronic documents, including paper-to-electronic materials (such as scanned photographs), should have a document name that indicates its purpose and event-specific relevance. Event notebooks, file folders, and cabinets should have event, date, or the range of contents listed. Physical materials such as marketing materials or merchandise should have a date on or attached to them. Photographs, negatives, videotapes, CDs, and DVDs should have event and date labels on the item and the spine of its container.


Large items such as posters or site plans require special storage containers such as print or map cabinets for flat storage or tubes for rolled-up storage, although you might also consider having them scanned as well for an electronic back-up. Please note that photographs or videos used or distributed outside the event office should always be copies, and not your only copy, because others do not have a vested interest in protecting them (I learned this the hard way).


When using web-based storage services, make certain you understand the capabilities and protocols regarding access and back-up integrity. These services often offer automatic back-up service, storage on a web server, file sharing, and numerous other features. However these services might experience a server crash, be compromised by malicious software or hackers, or simply go out of business (without warning). Do not rely on them exclusively for your important files and data.



It is clear that information has operational and commercial value, which must be protected from accidental or intentional loss, alteration, theft, or unauthorized access. For some types of information, such protection is mandated by law and you must comply with specific requirements. For other types of information, controls are necessary to ensure your capability to produce the event project.


When you are assessing the needs (who, what, when, where, why, and how) of the information management system, you must consider both the uses and potential abuses associated with the acquisition, organization, distribution, and retention of data. This becomes increasingly important with the prevalence of IT systems usage. Although deliberate harm is possible, most problems are caused by accident rather than intent. Therefore you must consider the system’s weaknesses and develop barriers and protocols accordingly.


You need to develop administrative procedures regarding data handling practices and electronic policies regarding system access, e-mail, permitted and prohibited Internet use, content and communication restrictions, downloads, confidential and proprietary information, etc. Give system users sufficient training so accidents are minimized, enforce policies rigorously, and do not tolerate abuses.


Specify methods to maintain system security and integrity

There are two facets to consider when developing policies and procedures to control information within your information management system: security methods to prevent unauthorized access and methods for protecting the integrity of the documents and data within it. Determine the possible barriers for preventing access or alteration and implement them according to priority and level of vulnerability. These barriers can include anything ranging from lockable file cabinets to a rights management component in your IT system allowing only certain people access to certain documents.


You might use document design features such as security level designations (“sensitive” or “classified”) to limit access on a “need to know” basis. Format restrictions such as read-only or PDF documents might be employed so a document is not easily altered. Delivery method policies such as e-mail protocols or physical delivery requirements could be implemented to limit unauthorized distribution problems.


In addition, carefully consider policies that restrict storage on portable or personal electronic devices, such as laptops, tablets, USB drives, and smart phones, for on-site and telecommuting workers. Once documents or data “leave the premises” (are exported from your main system), you have lost control over them. This will be a significant hazard if the data is mission critical, proprietary, or governed by privacy regulations.


Create and implement information access controls

Although the efficient sharing of information is an objective of your information management system, not everyone needs or gets access to everything. Specify the restrictions and prohibitions regarding who is allowed access to what information and when. Some access controls might be contractually or legislatively mandated while others are simply good business practice.

  • Ensure access to computers and web-based storage sites is password protected, and change the passwords on a periodic basis.

  • Require users to sign in with a name and date in a logbook or sheet when removing and returning documents or items in a physical storage system.

  • Keep personnel and confidential records in a separated location in physical and electronic systems, both in the office and when on-site at an event.

  • Use lockable offices, desks, and file cabinets and institute a key issuance procedure; change locks as appropriate (if, for example, someone has left the organization under controversial circumstances).

  • Prohibit distributing certain documents or information via e-mail (because you can not control its further distribution).

  • Make certain your IT system has a designated administrator responsible for assigning access rights.

Of course, the level of access control measures needed is based on the size, nature, and complexity of the event project, the event organization, and the information system’s contents. You need not be obsessed about this; nor should you be complacent regarding the potential for accidental and intentional abuses. Base the costs (money and effort) of acquiring and implementing access controls on the financial, operational, and legal costs of losing the information.


Develop and enforce privacy policies

There are certain types of information that are legally and morally considered personal and private, and, as such, must be protected if collected. These types of information include identity factors such as name, date of birth, contact information (address, phone number, e-mail address), social security numbers, and credit card numbers; as well as personal information such as familial or relationship data, political or religious affiliation, financial condition, and, in particular, medical information.


Event organizations often collect certain types of information in order to conduct employment, membership, registration, sales, and other activities. The information collected will primarily be the identify factors needed to conduct a financial transaction or join an organization (employment or membership). All personal information listed above can not be required or sometimes even requested (as in employment situations); however it might be requested by the organization for certain purposes, but providing this information must be voluntary.


For example, you might request “in case of emergency” contact information when registering attendees or participants at an event. You might also request that attendees advise you of any food allergies or other medically-related special needs. The individual has the option to provide this information or not, and the organization is then responsible for using it for that purpose only. All personal and private information must be disposed of properly when its stated purpose for collection has expired.


Privacy policies are critically important when using electronically-based data collection for consumer transactions. The consumer must be advised regarding who is collecting the information, the purpose and uses of the information, and how the information will be secured from unauthorized use. The event organization must protect that information from internal or external threats; for example, limiting access to only certain employees within the organization and using only web-based services that are PCI DSS-compliant (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) for transactions.


Comply with intellectual property protection requirements

Intellectual property refers to tangible and intangible products of the human mind, which typically includes copyrights, trademarks, service marks, patents, and trade secrets. These “idea” or “knowledge” products have commercial value to owners that is protected by law.

Overview of intellectual property

Copyright ©

property rights granted for original literary or artistic works of authorship that have been fixed in a tangible (or digital) medium of expression

Trademark TM

Registered Trademark ®

property rights granted for a word, phrase, or symbol that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others

Service mark SM

Registered Service mark ®

property rights granted for a word, phrase, or symbol that identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods


property rights granted for the invention of a machine, process, software, article of manufacture, or original ornamental design, or the discovery of new variety of plant

Trade Secret

a unique formula, process, system, idea, or secret information that provides a competitive advantage that can only be protected through using nondisclosure or confidentiality agreements


Abuses of intellectual property include, among others, downloading or uploading copyrighted literary works, music, photographs, or videos, and/or using them without paying licensing fees; sharing files or software through peer-to-peer networks; and using creative treatments or ideas acquired from solicited proposals without compensating the originator (or sending them to another provider to bid on the project). If you do not prevent these from occurring, your event organization could be liable for huge fees and penalties.


Establish and enforce policies and procedures that clearly specify permitted and prohibited use of internal and external intellectual property. Prohibit such things as copying or downloading software programs onto additional computers beyond your licensing agreement; using logos, symbols, graphics, photographs, video, music, content, or other copyrighted material copied from Internet or elsewhere; and copying and/or removing proprietary material for personal use or promotion.


Require and acquire confidentiality or nondisclosure agreements with those in your workforce and supply chain (direct and indirect providers) when giving or receiving information that can be considered competitive intelligence (trade secrets). You might also need specific social media policies that address what employees and certain stakeholders must not communicate on various digital sites or platforms according to nondisclosure agreements.


Clearly specify ownership rights of creative work product generated by your paid employees, also know as work for hire, for which the employer typically retains the copyrights. Also, specify ownership of intellectual property rights on any creative or business proposals you might send out as an event producer or organization. Protect your rights and the rights of others.



To review, this article examined the ways in which information and data circulate throughout lifecycle of an event project and the endeavors of an event organization; from the initial acquisition of information through to its eventual disposal. An information management system is devised a way that accommodates the needs of its users, which depends on the types and nature of the information to be included, and focuses on retrieval capability.


Information sharing is vital to the success of an event project, particularly during the implementation phase, and it is critical during an event. Standard operating procedures are a valuable tool, but there will always be surprises. Communication skills – writing, speaking, listening, and presenting – are incredibly important to the success of your information sharing strategies.


Information touches every facet of an event project and has competitive and operational value to an event organization. Its capture, arrangement, distribution, retention, and control will be facilitated by administrative policies and procedures, some of which are governed by contractual or regulatory mandates. Know your obligations and opportunities as well as your needs and vulnerabilities, and continually strive to improve your information management system and strategies.



  • change management: the tactics and processes used to be prepared for and react to changes in a considered and reasonable manner

  • IT: acronym used for information technology

  • pull: information acquired from a system by the purposeful action by the receiver

  • push: information delivered automatically by a system without initiation by the receiver

  • relational database: a database that organizes data based on common attributes or sort fields and can be grouped or manipulated according to data categories

  • rights management: a software component of a computerized database that can restrict access to types of documents or data to only specified users or groups of users

  • sort field: an individual category of data included in a database

  • supply chain: the direct providers of a product or service and the providers from whom they procure their goods and service


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