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Areas for Improvement / 2015 Recommendations

  1. Replace printed name tents with dry erase name tents (Example: that are left in each room for the duration of the weekend. ROI would be greater than 1 year based upon 2014 printing costs. A method for securing in each room, or collecting following the last scheduled event each day would need to be put in place.
  2. Have ProgramOps do room scheduling in advance of the convention rather than Programming. This would create more accountability for issues during convention, and ensure that the people receiving complaints would be able to prevent them recurring in future conventions. Example: Numerous complaints received during convention due to proximity of musical performances and panels, and multiple requests for projectors. ProgramOps received complaints, but could not do anything about it at that point.
  3. Standardize A/V available in each room. Ideal would be to have a projector and microphone in each room, but this is likely cost prohibitive. Have groups of rooms designated for panels (which typically don't need a projector), and group of rooms that are for individual speakers (which typically do need a projector). Grouping rooms together by location simplifies the rescheduling process, and facilitates answering questions from speakers who are trying to confirm they will have the expected A/V equipment.
  4. Work with Programming to get the programming data sent to ProgramOps to match the format listed below. Areas that need to change to allow for automated import:
    1. Start date & time need to be combined into one field.
    2. End date & time need to be combined into one field.
    3. Tracks, A/V needs need separate fields if there is more than one listed per scheduled event, similar to how speakers should be.
    4. Speakers need to be separated into separate fields where there is more than one.
  5. Have microphones available for speakers to use when located next to a musical performance or other event likely to be loud.
  6. Have a room available to move events to at the last minute if there is too much noise to be heard in their current room.
  7. For all speakers, include the name their registration is listed under. If the speaker wants an alias included in the program book / speaker packet, list that separately. Put together a database that is maintained from year to year of known aliases.
  8. Have Programming designate which presenters do or do not need name tents. For example, musical acts typically don’t need name tents unless they are also part of a panel.
  9. Stop counting attendance at events. (Requires discussion.)
  10. Create electronic counters for each room so as not to need people to visit each room to take attendance counts during each event.
  11. Set up Google mail to forward a copy of all email sent to Programming or Track heads after the schedule is frozen to Program Ops. This is to ensure that Program Ops receives any notifications from presenters who need to cancel at the last minute.
  12. Determine whether speaker packets need closer integration with pre-registration envelopes.
  13. Provide ProgramOps a list of hours when the Makerspace is supposed to be open, if counting will continue.
  14. Only have one Google calendar to update during the convention. It was very time consuming to try to search through each of the track calendars to make updates, because the name of the track was not displaying in the calendar window. All calendars had to be searched, since one event could be on multiple tracks. Alternately, rename the calendars so the track is first so that the number of calendars to search can be minimized that way.
  15. Determine whether ProgramOps budget should be expanded to include swag, or whether that should fall under marketing.
  16. Revisit speaker packets to see if they are still necessary, and if so, whether they are necessary for all types of speakers. 16% of packets were not picked up. Of these, only 1 speaker was a cancellation for the weekend.
  17. Look into replacing name tents with reusable, dry-erase boards sized appropriately.
  18. Revisit warning system/instructions. Some presenters got warnings at the wrong time - 10 minutes when it should have been 5, warning an hour early, etc.

Program Ops Responsibilities

The Program Ops person is a staff member on the Operations (Ops) team who handles the direct operational running of the convention programming. Program Ops responsibilities include ensuring all convention events start & finish on time, providing real time updates to the schedule during the convention if event times or locations are changed, counting attendance at all scheduled events, and publishing the resulting data immediately after the convention. Prior to the convention, the Program Ops person is responsible for printing and assembling speaker/presenter packets, room schedules, and all materials needed by Program Ops during the convention.

Required Skills & Availability

  1. On-site availability during convention hours with scheduled events to make schedule modifications, to coordinate counting with volunteers, and to complete counts when volunteers are not available.
  2. Ability to understand event needs (space, A/V, etc.) and select a new time/location with minimum changes to the schedule.
  3. Ability to communicate changes to the schedule in a timely manner using all available technology.
  4. Familiarity with technology used to publish changes to the schedule during the convention – Twitter, Google Calendar, etc.
  5. Familiarity with database or other software with query & reporting capabilities that can be used to generate materials for participant packets.
  6. Ability to coordinate planning activities prior to convention with other areas, particularly the heads of Programming & Operations.
  7. Availability for the week prior to convention to generate & assemble packet materials, and make any last minute updates prior to the start of the convention.
  8. Availability to attend feedback session (if there is one) and note recommendations for improving Program Ops.


  1. Contact the designated Webmaster or the prior year’s Program Ops resource for the password to the ProgramOps at account, accessible via Google/Gmail login. Use this email for all communications related to Program Ops convention planning.
  2. Samples of the following materials are available on Google drive when logged in to the Program Ops account:
    1. GoH Welcome Letter
      • Note: Featured Guest welcome letters, if used, may be based off this, with Green Room information modified accordingly.
    2. Hourly Count Sheet
    3. Name tent
    4. Packet Labels
    5. Room Schedules
    6. Speaker Schedules
    7. Individualized Speaker Map
    8. Instructions for Ops Related to Program Ops


Note that the timings below are recommended, but should be revised as needed where other departments have earlier deadlines, or as needed based upon changes in and level of familiarity with any technology used to generate materials.
Key deadlines that Program Ops must clearly specify are the schedule freeze date and the date/time Program Ops provides completed participant packets for pickup.

Throughout the Year

  1. Read and respond to email sent to Program in a timely manner. Email is typically non-existent, except in the weeks leading up to the convention (planning coordination) and for a brief period following the convention (typically requests for event counts).
  2. Attend scheduled ConCom meetings to understand any decisions made that will impact the running of the convention.

12 Weeks Prior

  1. Notify volunteer coordinator (volunteers at of hours when volunteers are needed. Two volunteers are typically requested during the following hours. This may be adjusted based upon when events are scheduled.
    1. Friday, 4:00 PM - 11:00 PM, 1 (min.) - 2 volunteers needed at the start of each hour. (The last volunteers will finish at midnight)
    2. Saturday, 10:00 AM - 11:00 PM, 1 (min.) - 2 volunteers needed at the start of each hour (The last volunteers will finish at midnight)
    3. Sunday, 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM, 1 (min.) - 2 volunteers needed at the start of each hour (The last volunteers will finish at 3:00 PM)
  2. Review sample materials. Create / update tools as needed to automate creation of these materials.

8 Weeks Prior

Request access to or an electronic copy of existing schedule information. Required schedule information should be directly queryable or in CSV format unless otherwise decided in conjunction with the head of programming, with the following information included:

AttributeDescriptionRequiredExample Data
Event Name Name of the event Y Open Sketch and Draw
Event Start Date & time at which the event starts Y 4/26/2013 16:00
Event End Date & time at which the event ends Y 4/26/2013 16:50
Event Description Text that will be used to describe the event in the program book. Y Need a quiet corner to draw and sketch and get your creative juices flowing to start off the convention? Relax and put those visions to paper any time during this open session.
Event Track Primary track or grouping (BOF, track, etc.) for the event. Note: All BOF sessions should be labeled as such consistently. N BOF
Venue Location for the event. Must match the names used on the calendar to be published and provided to attendees. Y Salon A
A/V Needs Designates what A/V needs the event has, or “None” if no equipment is neededY Projector, Microphone, Speakers/Sound
Speaker 1 Full name for the first presenter/panelist. “Open” if there are no planned presenters, such as for a Birds of a Feather (BOF) session. All speaker names should match the name the individual is registered under. Note: If an attendee is expected to attend a session, such as GoHs being present for the Opening and Closing ceremonies, they should be listed as a speaker for that event. Y Jane Smith
Speaker 2 Full name for the second presenter/panelist. N John Doe
Speaker n Full name for the nth presenter/panelist. N Alex Johnson
  1. Confirm with the head of programming the approximate number of presenters. (This is needed to order table tents.)
  2. Request from the person creating the printed program book a copy of the map that will be provided to conference attendees.
  3. Import the provided schedule information into the database/tool of choice validate that data is uploaded correctly. Work with the programming head to resolve any issues or discrepancies found. (Examples: Speakers or venues that are double booked, speakers listed by more than one name, venues listed with more than one name, venues listed with names that are different from the map for attendees.)

Six Weeks Prior

  1. Request green room information from the head of Hospitality for inclusion in GoH welcome letters.
  2. Request a list of GoH liaisons from the appropriate department head.
  3. Request a copy of the official map to be put in the scheduling book from the person responsible for the program book. Modify as needed to use for individual participant maps.
  4. Update the welcome letters to reflect current green room & liaison information.
  5. Generate samples of the information that will be provided in each packet and provide to the heads of Ops, Programming, and Hospitality for review. This should include a sample of each of the following:
    1. Welcome letter
    2. Speaker schedule
    3. Speaker name tent
    4. Speaker map
  6. Determine pricing for & get approval from the head of Ops to order supplies for speaker packets. The following supplies are typically needed:
    1. Envelope that holds an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper
    2. Label for each envelope, size of 10 per 8.5 x 11 sheet
    3. Name tent, 4.25 x 11 inches folded
    4. Paper to print schedule, typically white
    5. Paper to print/copy welcome letter, typically white
    6. Paper to print an 8.5 x 11 copy of the map

Four Weeks Prior

  1. Confirm speaker count (to nearest 50, rounded up) with the head of Programming.
  2. Order supplies for presenter packets.
  3. Request an updated copy of the program schedule. Review and verify information & confirm there are no conflicts by room or by speaker. Work with the head of programming to resolve any discrepancies.
  4. Provide Registration a list of speakers, and the number of scheduled speaking hours for each.
  5. Request a copy of room layouts, and room flip schedule.
  6. Notify volunteer coordinator of any changes to volunteer needs based upon when programming is scheduled.
  7. Verify which rooms will have which A/V capabilities, and the capacity of each. Keep this information for use during the convention for rescheduling events.

Two Weeks Prior

  1. Confirm with the head of Programming the date upon which the schedule will be frozen. All schedule changes after this date need to be communicated to. This date must be no less than 1 week prior to the start of the convention.
  2. Request from the head of Ops ribbons to be included in presenter packets. (GoH ribbons, Presenter ribbons, ribbons for GoHs to hand out, ribbons that were purchased by any speaker)
  3. Format a copy of the attendee map to fit on an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper. (Enlarge as much as possible.)
  4. Request access to all accounts to be used during the convention for publicizing schedule changes (Twitter, Google Calendar, etc.)
  5. Review with the head of Operations instructions to be provided to Ops staff/volunteers for interfacing with volunteers, and for contacting the head of if/when schedule changes are needed.
  6. Request GoH, participant, and ribbons for GoHs to hand out from the head of Operations.
  7. Provide Registration an updated list of speakers & hours by speaker, with differences from the prior version highlighted.

One Week Prior through the Day Prior to Convention

Note: Typically plan for this process to take the better part of the weekend prior to the start of the convention, at a minimum, plus additional time up until the convention start to make any final changes.

  1. Request a final copy of the schedule. Any changes to the schedule after this point must be communicated to Program Ops so that speaker packets & room schedules can be updated as needed. Request access to or an electronic copy of schedule information.
  2. Import and verify the schedule information. Resolve any discrepancies with the head of programming.
  3. Generate printed materials for the presenter packets.
    1. Welcome letter (GoHs and Featured Guests)
    2. Participant schedule
    3. Presenter name tent
    4. Map (8.5 x 11 version)
    5. Label
  4. Assemble presenter packets.
    1. Place a name label on the front of each envelope. Be certain to keep the envelopes in alphabetical order by last name.
    2. Add the welcome letter, participant schedule, and name tent to each envelope. Confirm that the name matches the name on the envelope.
    3. Add GoH ribbons to each GoH envelope.
    4. Add presenter ribbons to each other envelope.
    5. Add ribbons purchased on behalf of GoHs to their envelopes. These are ribbons that the GoHs hand out at their presentations.
  5. Print out attendee count sheets and assemble into a three ring binder to be left at Ops. (Recommend 3 copies per hour.)
  6. Print out room schedules, using a minimum 16 pt font. Print one copy to be posted by each door to the room.
  7. Print out signs to hold up to provide presenters 5 & 10 minute warnings.
  8. Assemble materials needed by volunteers – clip board with map, watch, writing implements, and warning signs.
  9. If any changes are made to the schedule, update affected presenter schedules, room schedules, and count sheets and print out new copies of these as needed.
  10. Provide Registration an updated list of speakers & hours by speaker, with differences from the prior version highlighted.

Convention – Set Up

  1. Drop off packets at Registration as soon as Registration setup begins.
  2. Place Program Ops binder & Program Ops materials in Ops in the area designated by the head of Operations.
  3. Post room schedules outside each entrance to each room.

Convention - During

  1. At the start of each hour when programming is scheduled (ending at midnight), go to Ops to meet with the volunteer(s).
    1. Provide the volunteers instructions for counting & recording attendance at each panel and recording the same and for providing warnings when time is up.
    2. Request volunteers communicate any issues they observe directly to Ops for resolution (Examples: A/V issues, no water for presenter, etc.)
  2. If no volunteer is present, complete the activities normally assigned to the volunteer.
  3. Respond to all texts/calls from Ops & address any schedule changes as outlined in the Schedule Changes section.
  4. Periodically throughout the weekend, enter count of attendees at each event or in each scheduled space (gaming, DIY, etc.) into your tool of choice.
  5. Attend the feedback session (if one is scheduled) and note any recommendations for improvement that could or should be completed by Program Ops.

Schedule Changes: Cancellations

  1. Cross out the event on the room schedules.
  2. Post a notice to Twitter indicating the event is cancelled.
  3. Cross out the event on the schedules maintained by & any schedules posted in Ops.
  4. Update Google Calendar and any other sources provided by Programming to indicate that the event is cancelled. Note: Do not just delete the event. Update the title to indicate it has been cancelled or else this will cause confusion when people look at a printed schedule.
  5. Note the cancellation on the white board outside of Ops.
  6. Confirm the change is entered on the schedule change sheet.

Schedule Changes: Changes / Additions

  1. Based upon what is being requested (Larger room? Different time?, Different A/V Requirements?), review the schedule to determine an appropriate time/location.
  2. Update the schedule(s) posted outside the affected room(s).
  3. Post a notice to Twitter with the schedule change.
  4. Update Google Calendar and any other sources provided by Programming as needed.
  5. Update the physical schedule maintained by & any schedules posted in Ops.
  6. Updated the affected count sheets.
  7. Note the change on the white board outside of Ops.
  8. Confirm the change is entered on the schedule change sheet.

Following Convention

  1. Retrieve any unclaimed packets from Registration. Remove ribbons and any other reusable materials and return to the head of Operations. Remaining materials may be discarded.
  2. Complete the entering of attendance counts for each event.
  3. Generate a CSV file with attendance counts. Include a designation for each event that was canceled and why (i.e., speaker canceled, speaker did not show up, etc.)
  4. Verify information is accurate as possible and takes into account schedule changes.
  5. Upload the CSV to Google Drive using the Program account. Set the sharing to make it accessible to those who have the link.
  6. Send an email to & the ConCom distribution list ( )with the CSV file as an attachment, or link to the same.
  7. Update the wiki with a link to the attendance file.
  8. Update the Areas for Improvement section on this wiki page with ideas for improving the functioning of Program Ops for the next convention.

Improvements Implemented for 2014

  1. Have Programming provide contact information for each presenter so they can be reached during the convention if they have not arrived for a panel.
  2. Send out an email prior to Penguicon telling all presenters/panelists where to find their packets. (Would be less confusing if these were at registration.)
  3. Print out a schedule showing the A/V needs for each event, and the A/V available in each room.
  4. Provide custom maps to each speaker that have their presentation locations highlighted.
  5. For program blocks that are for setup, look into leaving these off the schedule (but tell Program Ops), or to specify “setup” on the schedule so participants don't stop by.
programmingops.txt · Last modified: 2017/01/14 11:24 (external edit)