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The Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) is a leading provider of higher education and professional training in Singapore. Its extensive range of membership programmes, activities and resources provide an important nexus for SIM students and members to network and learn.

Event Planning & Managment – An Arduous Task

SIM had been relying on Excel and simple tools to plan and organise its graduation ceremonies for many years. The planning of a graduation event is a tedious project which consist of a series of stages.

  • Gathering of graduand lists from multiple schools and departments
  • Sending the graduation ceremony invites to graduands
  • Receiving the RSVPs, with indication of guests
  • Selection of graduation gowns
  • Printing and sending of admission tickets
  • Seat planning and allocation for both graduands and guests

The preparation for a graduation event can start as early as 6 months in advance, as long processing time is needed between each stage. Take for example, the RSVP for the event may be closed 2 months in advance, so as to cater sufficient time for manual seat allocation and changes. There are also activities on the ceremony day itself, like attendance taking, handling of lost tickets and walk-in guests. In addition, manual paper process during the actual graduation day requires more manpower to work in a highly stressful environment.

There are also activities on the ceremony day itself, like attendance taking, handling of lost tickets and walk-in guests. In addition, manual paper process during the actual graduation day requires more manpower to work in a highly stressful environment.

SIM’s objective was to have a event management solution that would cover them from the event planning and RSVP management, to the seat allocation and attendance taking for the event.

Designing the Event Management Solution

The stakeholders of the project consisted of the SIM’s event organising team and their IT department, as there were non-functional requirements like security, performance and high availability, that were to be achieved by this system. We needed first to understand the needs of the users from their different schools and departments, so we could design a solution that would enable the event organising team to delegate responsibilities to the representatives of the respective schools and departments.

An “offline mode” for the system was designed to cater for attendance taking, and graduand name reading/flashing, so these functions could be executed in all planned premises.

The focus of our design was to allow for the individual stages of the event to be planned independently, and to shorten the waiting time between and within the stages, that were currently caused by manual processing.  An “offline mode” for the system was designed to cater for attendance taking, and graduand name reading/flashing, so these functions could be executed in all planned premises.

Developing & Integrating a Complex System

The project development was distributed to multiple team members, with different skill-sets, who worked on independent but related modules. The event management system consisted of a web-based application, a desktop application, a Flash application, and a printing application, that were all developed in parallel. After the completed modules were integrated together, we conducted integrated tests on the system to ensure the required process flows ran correctly and smoothly.

Piloting the System & Testing for Performance

The completed event management system was piloted for a small master degree graduation ceremony, consisting of about 500 graduands. Our project manager and developer followed through the entire sequence of the event, from the planning stages to being onsite at the ceremony day, so we could identify any usability issue and immediately resolve any programming errors. The system was next used on a larger scale event of about 2,000 graduands, and tested for performance before it was used for a campus-wide annual graduation event.

Impactful Results from Automation

The delivered event management solution met the objective of improving the efficiency of organising events for SIM. The schools and departments within SIM can now submit their graduand lists and update their invitation statuses to a centralised database. The event organising team can now focus on the actual event planning.

They can now print admission cards directly from the system, based on a selected template. Seat planning and allocation is automated; the event organiser provides the location parameters and seat allocation rules for the system, and it will automatically allocate seat numbers to graduands and guests who have confirmed their attendance.

Self-service terminals were also introduced for attendance taking; graduands and guests check-in by scanning a barcode that’s printed on their admission tickets.

Self-service terminals were also introduced for attendance taking; graduands and guests check-in by scanning a barcode that’s printed on their admission tickets. During the actual ceremony, graduands in queue to go on stage will flash their admission card on a barcode scanner and their name from a pre-record will be announced, and flashed on the screen at the same time as they walk up the stage.

After the successful launch of the event management system, SIM has also used it for organising other general events, and has aptly renamed it from “SIM Graduation Management System” to “SIM Event Management System”.

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