How to do an effective backward planning?

02 January 2020 | Temps de lecture : 6 min.
Photo de feuillets post-it collés sur un mur

There are many steps to a successful event. It is necessary to find a place that fits the general atmosphere, invite participants or hire service providers who will ensure external services such as a caterer or a facilitator. But that’s for the practical part.  Before even getting to that point, you have to think about the preparation of your event: define your objectives, plan your communication… To be sure to manage your schedule properly, you have to follow a calendar to the letter and therefore do a backward planning.

But what is it really? How to create it easily without forgetting the essential elements? Eventdrive gives you tips on how to create an efficient reverse planning.


Backward planning is not a classic schedule. Usually, you start from the start date and schedule to the end date. With backward scheduling, you do the opposite! You start with the end date of the project. This method of reverse scheduling is the most efficient in event planning, because you start from the date of the event, a date that is supposed to be set in stone and that cannot be changed no matter what happens.

There are several advantages to choosing a backward planning:

Greater respect for the deadline

Of course, if we start from the end date, we are sure to be able to wedge everything together before then, without any delay in delivery. Conclusion? Less stress and better efficiency.

You know right away when to start

Since you add the steps needed to complete the project from the end, you’ll quickly know when you need to start to get it all done.

You know the resources to be allocated

By working on each step at a time, you will be able to adjust the timeline and see how many people and budget will be needed each time. You will then be able to plan a total budget much better.

A better visualization of deadlines

When creating your backward planning, you will assign a timeframe to each necessary action. Quickly you will see if the deadlines you have set are achievable or if you need to modify the project accordingly. Don’t forget to keep in mind the (SMART) objectives you set in advance when creating your schedule.


Now that you’ve got a good understanding of what a backward planning is, it’s time to see what format it has. Depending on your preferences or the complexity of the event to be organized, it can take several forms. At Eventdrive, we have tested several solutions, we present you today the 3 most common ones.

The Gantt chart

This is the most common format. Ideal when working with a complex format, the Gantt chart is created with tasks and subtasks. 

In the left-hand column, you have the details of the actions to be taken and in the header, there is the time period to follow. Each task is represented by a horizontal bar that is spread out according to the time required. The advantage is that you can easily overlap several tasks and you have a clear visualization of the duration of each task. You can also set milestones if some steps require special validations.

Don’t forget that the Gantt chart is a collaborative tool, you must be able to work simultaneously with other members of your team on its creation and have the possibility to leave notes and comments.

There are many tools available to create an effective event-driven Gantt chart. We particularly like Smartsheet or LucidChart for example. Depending on the tools, you will be able to choose the way you want to visualize your backward planning and choose the structure that best suits you.

Exemple d'un rétroplanning

Excel Spreadsheet

If you don’t want to work on a Gantt chart, you can use a more classical method and create a table in Excel.

It is up to you to choose which format you prefer depending on your objectives. The advantage is that you can add as many options as you want, such as the budget per task or the human resources required for each action. However, the visual aspect of the table is less clear.

Even if you use a template, the first time you create your table, you will certainly need more time to adapt it to your needs and your business. But the advantage is that you will be able to start from this basis for future projects that you will have.

If you use Google Sheet, be aware that there are many extensions that can be added to make it easier to create your backward planning.

Tools type Asana

Other tools allow you to create a backward planning quickly. Asana, in particular, offers an event organization model that is easy to follow for your own project. You can then invite people from outside your organization, such as suppliers, to collaborate on your planning. As on a Gantt chart, you can set up a timeline and follow the same format with a header that defines the time period. 

With Asana, you can also integrate your mailbox into the tool and automatically add notes or tasks to your backward planning. It is also possible to link the tool with Slack for example, a feature that is particularly useful when the event has started and you need to quickly manage the last points of the schedule.

You can also choose to view your schedule in different ways. If you prefer bulleted lists, the column function will be more relevant for you. But you can also choose a horizontal view with different colour codes.

Un template Asana

The creation of a backward planning is an essential step in the organization of a project. In fact, it is one of the first, if not the first task to be carried out in order to succeed in a project. With a backward planning, you will have a clear visualization of the next steps, you will know perfectly the human and financial resources to be allocated to each step of the process and will be much more efficient when carrying them out.

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