Oh, the joy that is logistics. Well, it may not be fun, but it is important. In fact, one can argue that logistics is the most important part of preparing for an event. Why? Because from meals to transportation, safety to staff roles, logistics determines if an event will go smoothly. It is like the fuel that runs the engine. That is why organization and preparation are essential to ensure a successful logistical plan.
1 Components of Logistics
As briefly mentioned above, logistics includes many different components. Basically, all the details related to an event, besides outreach and program, can be considered logistics. For example, let’s say your organization is planning a 3-day conference for college students across the country. Logistics would entail: setting up transportation, booking the hotel, booking the conference place, ordering/paying/setting up the meals, creating a plan of different staff roles during the 3-day conference, ensuring security at both the hotel and conference place, setting up ground transportation to and from the hotel, making copies of all participant materials, securing AV needs in the different rooms used during the conference, collecting registration fees of the participants, handling reimbursements, etc. There are a lot of moving pieces when it comes to logistics so coordination and management of them is vital. Below are some important steps you need to take for smooth and efficient logistics and some important tips to help you along the way.
Important Steps in Logistics Coordination
- Identify who will coordinate the logistics – we highly recommend having 1 or 2 people coordinate the logistics team. The coordinator is responsible for organizing and facilitating regular meetings with the logistics team, making sure all deadlines are met, making sure that all tasks are carried out within the budget, and day of, be what we call the “floater.” The floater has no specific role on the day of the event or action but instead is ensuring that each step of the staffing plan (discussed below) is happening well and on time. The floater can also trouble shoot any new situations that may come up and step in when there additional support needed. As to who to contact in response to specific situations, the floater should refer to the lead identified in the staffing plan. Because the floater is also the logistics coordinator, s/he should know the schedule of the entire event as well as all the members of the logistics, media, program teams.
- Know the budget – before anything else, you need to know the budget for the event. Do not move forward without knowing the budget. All logistical tasks must adhere to the budget.
- Identify all the needs of the event ASAP – once your organization has agreed to organize or participate in an event, have a clear understanding of the scope and nature of your organization’s participation as soon as you can. The logistics coordinator needs to know everything about an event, from purpose, what groups are involved, the media plan, outreach plan, budget, etc. because logistics will dip into each of these areas. Therefore, if you are the logistics coordinator, start asking the questions to make sure that you can identify all the needs.
- Once the needs are identified, create the logistics team – depending on what the needs are, create a team where each individual will be responsible for the follow through of each need. For example, if your organization is mobilizing 50 people from Los Angeles to Sacramento for legislative visits and you have identified the needs - secure charter bus, secure 3 meals, get directions to and from Sacramento, know the food restrictions and/or health needs of participants, secure parking for the bus in Sacramento, collect $75 registration fee from each participant, make permission slips for youth participants – you want to create a team that will accomplish each of these needs or tasks. It may be helpful to group certain tasks together. For example, you may want to pair the securing of the bus and finding parking together and have 1 person maintain communication between the group and bus company. You may also want to pair registration fee collection with making permission slips for youth and have 1 person solely responsible for any tasks related to participants. Once an individual is given a certain task, you need to make sure they understand their responsibility, from start to finish, and be ready to provide support and regularly check in with that person.
- Hold regular meetings with the logistics team – the logistics coordinator should plan and facilitate regular meetings with the logistics team. As you know, details can change hourly. The logistics team needs to know these changes so that they can quickly respond. Weekly meetings should be held a month prior to the event. When the event is 2 weeks ahead, it may be helpful to start meeting 2 times a week.
- Have a calendar of tasks and deadlines posted on the wall – this should be present at all logistics meetings. The calendar should also include outreach deadlines, the media plan deadlines, and other important dates.
- Around 2 weeks prior to the event, start drafting the staffing plan – a staffing plan is sort of like a script for the event but from the perspective of logistics. It is an hour-by-hour (sometimes minute by minute) breakdown of what individual staff and groups of people are doing during the event. For example, for the trip from Los Angeles to Sacramento, the staffing plan starts at 5AM when participants need to meet at a specific point and load the bus, includes meal times, the start and end time of the bus program, Sacramento arrival time, staffing times and tasks for the legislative visit, time when participants load onto the bus, and arrival back to Los Angeles. Below is a sample staffing plan. Have 1 person be responsible for creating the staffing plan, make changes to it (which can happen hourly as the event approaches), and send out revised drafts to staff. Ideally, this person should be the logistics coordinator because as the “floater,” s/he will be referring to the staffing plan.
- Keep record of all logistical materials - remember to keep staffing plans, itineraries, meeting agendas, budget, etc. for future reference. You will most likely recycle a lot of the materials for the next event
- Logistics team will be working closely with the outreach, media, and even program teams. The logistics coordinator should know all the moving pieces and when relevant, make sure the logistics team is in communication and coordinating with the other teams involved in the event planning.
- Here are a list of possible items that are part of the logistics plan. Please note that they vary with each event:
- Materials needed (butcher paper, pens, projector, etc)
- AV set up and support (laptops, projector, sound system, etc)
- Registration to an event
3 Sample staffing plan for a march
|When||What||Who (leads in bold)||Notes|
|8:00 am||Certain staff meet at office to set up distribution table of water, energy bars, and emergency cards.||Nicole, JongMin, Minsuk||JongMin and Minsuk are leads for nongis.|
Emergency cards will have numbers for Jeffrey, Nicole, and HeeJoo.
|8:15 am||Security team huddle (6)||Jeffrey, Minsuk, Elizabeth, Aaron, Will, Robyn||Jeffrey to attend the UCLA Labor Center's security training on Thursday, 6-8pm.|
|8:15 am||Documentation huddle||Ilsoo (camera), Jeong Yeon (video)|
|8:15 am||Bus** arrives at office||Nicole|
|8:30am||Begin loading bus with materials and people||All staff. Supervised by Nicole||Jongmin and Minsuk are nongi leads|
|8:45 am||Check turnout list||HeeJoo and Nicole|
|8:45 am||Bus leaves office to drop off everyone and supplies at Olympic and Grand||All|
|9:20 am||Bus arrives at Olympic and Grand||All|
|9:15 am||Unload bus and distribute nongis, signs, and drums||All staff. Supervised by Nicole|
|9:25 am||Walk from Olympic/ Grand to Olympic/ Broadway||All. Led by security team (Jeffrey lead)||Security team will also have trash bags on them.|
|9:40 am||Arrive to Olympic/Broadway||All|
|10:00 - 11:00 pm||Morning program||All|
|11 - 12:30||March||All||Chant leader - YongHo|
Security - Jeffrey
Emergency - Nicole
Pungmul - Joon Kim
Documentation - Jeong Yeon
Korean media - JeongYeon
English media - EunSook
Water carrier - Minsuk
|12:30 pm||Arrive at Temple||All|
|12:30 - 2:30 pm||Rally at Temple and Broadway||All|
|3:30 pm||Bus pick up on Temple, between Los Angeles and Figueroa. Everyone gets on||All. Security team plus DJ, EunSook, HeeJoo, Robyn|
|4:00 pm||Arrive at office||All|
|4:00 - 6:00 pm||Dinner||All. Supervised by HeeJoo and Nicole|
Written by Hayeon Lee, Olivia Park and HyunJoo Lee in 2010