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Technical Operations Manager (TOM)

Job Description

Andy Croft

All too often Tech only find out what's happening when things have started. The suggested questionnaire should ensure that program managers and principle participants think about what they'll need and let the TOM know before the Con. This could make life somewhat easier for the Tech crew I know. But what the hell, why not try it. I really do think that they should be standard planing for all Cons. It is to be expected that minor changes may well be used by different groups, but the majority should remain unchanged.

There is a very good reason why the TOM must be of equal status to the Ops manager. The Ops people may well be competent managers, but all too often have very little technical knowledge. This means that there is the possibility of the tech crew being ordered to do something that is unwise or impractical. If the TOM is of equal status it should be possible to avoid this level of problem. It should be remembered by all that a Con is very much a team effort. There should not be normally be a problem, but if there is, what's better - the tech crew walking out or going on strike, or the TOM sorting it out with Ops and/or DCM?

I offer it as charity ware for anyone to use. If they use it, please give a donation to either their local dyslexia charity or to the national one: British Dyslexia Association. 98 London Road, Reading, Berkshire R61 5AU.

I would like to suggest that terms of reference be introduced for all the main jobs that go to making a Con work. By preference, produced by someone well known for doing the particular job well. It would be an invaluable guide for anyone, either running a Con for the first time, or even taking over a different hat. It would undoubtedly reduce the number of "I thought you were doing it" type arguments.

Technical Operations Manager (TOM)

Terms Of Reference

These terms of reference are intended as a guide and is not intended to be either totally inclusive or exclusive.

TOM is of equal status to the Operations Manager (Ops) both of whom report directly to the Duty Committee Member (DCM).

Note: the committee should state its policy on Radio communications (i.e. Wallyphones) and who is to be responsible for them upon the appointment of TOM.

1) The TOM is to be appointed by the committee no later than 6 months before the convention is due to take place. TOM is responsible together with the Program Manager (PM) for:

a) Obtaining from the Principal Participant (PP) all the technical requirements for a given item. See attached questionnaire for guidance on the type of information required from the PP. Additional equipment like amplifiers etc. to be assessed by TOM upon analysis of the forms and post a site visit.

b) Ensuring that the allocated room or area is suitable for the programme item to take place.

All this to be determined no later than 3 months before the Con. A preliminary technical requirement to be drawn up at this time.

2) In conjunction with site liaison (SL):

a) Determine what equipment is available on site.

b) Ensuring that it is suitable for use.

c) Assessing the rooms to be used for intended purpose including the need for sound reinforcement etc.

d) Checking the need for extension leads to be supplied by the Con etc.

e) Opening communications with the site technical staff if any.

Ensuring that they are aware of the general requirements and normal working practices of a Con.

f) Agreeing with SL and site what equipment is to be used.

g) Determining site rules on who is allowed to do what, to what equipment i.e. film projectors are to be operated by nominally qualified staff only. These are to be noted and written down for the use of all Con tech crew during the Con.

3) Obtaining quotes for the supply of all additional equipment required for submission to the Committee. The Committee must give a prompt answer to permit ordering in good time. Nominally no later than 3 months before the Con to ensure availability of equipment. Note that any equipment lent to the Con is considered to be on hire in this TOR.

4) Ensuring that any specialist staff are identified and will be present i.e. qualified projectionist. Note that this may well have been done by the Committee sometime earlier.

5) Producing, as required, a tech run plan showing what, where and when equipment is required together with any staff required to operate it. Producing any lighting plans for the site to rig before the Con starts and forwarding via the SL.

6) Updating all plans as required upon receiving change data from either the PM or SL. Notifying the site of any changes that effect them via SL.

7) Ensuring upon arrival on site that:

a) All equipment booked from site is present and serviceable.

b) All hire equipment is present, serviceable and traceable to hirer.

c) Recording any deficiencies, arranging where possible for the owner to correct or replace before it's needed. If repairs are carried out by tech staff ensure that a record is kept of the work carried out. Remember, you may be able to charge or be charged for the repairs made.

d) Setting up a tech ops area for the effective control and co-ordination of tech staff and equipment. Note: this may require running at least a partial secure store system. See secure store terms of reference for details.

8) Brief and organise staff to ensure the smooth running of the Con's technical side. Ensuring that:

a) All specialist staff know exactly when and where their skills will be required.

b) Any inexperienced staff are either supervised or receive adequate training to carry out the task in hand safely and efficiently. Remember, while they are working for the Con it has a legal obligation of care. (The safe lifting rules are known etc.)

c) All equipment is handled and maintained in a safe manner, ensuring that any faults or hazards are recorded. Note: some of these may have to be highlighted to the owners at or before the end of the Con.

9) Toward the end of the Con ensure that equipment that is no longer required is checked and packed as soon as practical for return. Identify and separate all hire equipment to return to the individual hirer. Ensure that any defect report or absences are noted and enclosed.

10) At end of the Con do a sweep of the whole facility used to ensure that:

a) All facility equipment is returned in the same state as it was received.

b) all hire equipment has been collected and accounted for, and returned in declared state.

c) All tech staff including any specialists are thanked for their help.

d) The treasurer is aware of all possible additional costs or savings that can be made due to repairs required or made.


Technical equipment questionnaire for convention Program manager/principal participant

One form to be completed for each event. Please try to answer as many questions as you can. If you're not sure about anything please ask for advice. We shall do our best to meet or at least give good warning of not meeting anything that is requested here. If it is received closer than 2 weeks to the Con there are no promises. If you forget to list anything, please let us know as soon as possible. Remember it may be too late on the day.

Items in Square brackets are for office use only.

Use a continuation sheet if required.

Please PRINT below and either tick or give a number where requested.

Item name.............................................

Principal participant........................................

Brief description............................................................

[Location....................... Time start..... end..... ]

Blackboard/flipchart/white board/ any will do Y/N

Pointer Y/N Podium Y/N Desk No. req...... Stool..... Water.....

Coffee table..... Chairs..... Upright..... Lounge.....

No. people on stage..... Min.No. microphones (usually 1 for 2).....

Type of microphones required and number of each.

Desk..... Stand..... Neck..... Clip..... Radio..... Long lead.....

(Radio and long lead are mainly for audience. May be either)

Audience participation: will you want a mic. operator? Y/N

[Gopher....................... Tech........................... ]

Tape deck..... Reel to reel..... Record player..... No.of tapes.....

Overhead projector (OHP)..... Epidiascope.....

Slide projector 35mm..... Approximate No. of slides.....

Film projector..... Size req...... Approx runtime.....

Video..... PAL..... SEC..... NTSC..... Umatic..... VHS.....

No. of tapes..... Approximate run time Hr..... min......

Want an operator? Y/N (Will supply anyway if room requires).

[Screen needed? Projector stand..... Gopher............ Tech................ ]

Special lighting Y/N Do you require a blackout / low lighting Y/N

(If any projection has been requested that will be covered automatically. If you require any special lighting please give brief description over page. We will then get in touch for further information as required.)

Score-board Y/N If yes, please give brief description if you wish us to supply i.e. two panels of 0 to 100 in units of 5.

Any special requirements not covered by the above.........................................


NOTE : Unless we are specifically requested to obtain clearance, it will be assumed that you have obtained permission to use any copyright material.
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This page updated on 09 July 1999