I've seen many technical conventions where the core staff gets run utterly ragged because they're rushing around fighting fires all the time. SF fans have found that a lot of this can be prevented by having a well-designed table of organization.
Such a table has multiple functions. It defines areas of responsibility, so people know whose job a given task logically is. It helps pinpoint areas where staffing may be inadequate. And (perhaps most importantly) it helps the core staff figure out which jobs can be done by gofers. Gofer hours are cheap compared to core staff hours; you want to use gofers as far up in your organization as you can (but no further).
At SF conventions there are generally three tiers of organization; the convention committee, the core staff, and the gofers.
The convention committee sometimes incorporates themselves as the directors of a nonprofit organization formed to run the event; they're the people legally responsible for the convention. Their main job is to manage the core staff.
The core staff are volunteers recruited before the convention by the concom. Core staff have full-time responsibilities at the con.
Gofers (as we've discussed above) are part-time volunteers recruited at the convention itself. They're the footsoldiers.
The convention committee (or `concom' in fanspeak) are the managers of the core staff. Here are some of the jobs that belong on the concom:
The buck stops with the con chairperson. The concom votes on policy before the convention, but at the convention itself the chair's word is final. He is the chief firefighter and troubleshooter.
It's important that the con chair not have other jobs besides being con chair. If he does, he will stress out and probably lose the big picture while chasing lower-level problems.
The vice-chair's job is to backstop the convention chair and stand in for him if necessary. It is not quite as critical that the vice-chair have no other jobs, but it is still a good idea to avoid this if possible.
This position is what technical conventions usually call ``program chair''. This person is a department head responsible for designing the convention program, recruiting speakers, and assembling the program schedule.
The actual printing of the convention booklet is sometimes attached to the programming department. Otherwise there's a separate concom-level director of publications.
The chief-of-programming job should not be combined with ops chief, hotel liaison, or vendor relations.
This person (``ops chief'') is a department head responsible for managing the core staff at the convention. Operations areas include gofer management, registration, security, signage, the con suite, management of AV equipment, and sometimes running (as opposed to planning) the programming.
This job should not be combined with program chair, hotel liaison, or vendor relations.
This person is responsible for relations with the convention hotels. This includes both arranging room blocking before the convention and dealing with reservation problems and facilities snafus during it.
At large conventions, hotel liaison is a full department with several core staff attached to the director. This is mainly so at least one can be on call to handle problems at all hours.
This job should not be combined with ops chief, program chair, or vendor relations.
Core staff are organized into departments, each directed by a concom member. Some departments (such as hotel liaison at a small con) can be one-man shows. Others (such as operations) need to be generously staffed.
Again, at the convention itself the core staff should spend most of their time managing gofers who do the actual legwork. One of the functions of a ``gopher hole'' room is to provide a labor pool.