How to Select a Strategic Meetings Management Program Technology

Are you under pressure? According to the Aberdeen Group’s 2014 report, Strategic Meetings Management for the Modern Day Executive, many of us are. The report explains that as corporate event budgets rise, enterprises are pressured to find strategies that better control event-related spending. You already knew that, right?

Source: Aberdeen Group, 2014. Strategic Meetings Management for the Modern Day Executive report

Frost & Sullivan reported in 2013 that meetings are proven drivers of productivity, sales, and engagement. They are so impactful, in fact, that according to the Aberdeen Group, 1.1% of a corporation's total revenue is spent on meetings and events. Forrester Research reported that 30% of B2B marketing budgets are spent on live events, tradeshows and webinars. Yet, when it comes to costs, most companies have no idea how much they are spending, or where they are spending those precious dollars.

Implementing an enterprise-wide meeting and event management program can be challenging because there is so much big data involved, but technology can help simplify the process and gain critical knowledge that can apply to your ROI.

A strategic meetings management program (SMMP) uses technology to manage your enterprise-wide meeting and event processes, with the goal of achieving quantitative cost-savings, lessoning risk, ultimately improving your attendees’ experiences and improving your organization’s productivity and effectiveness. It is important that you select an SMMP solution that manages the entire meetings and event lifecycle from planning, promoting, managing, and engaging to evaluating your events.

According to Corbin Ball’s excellent report, Strategic Meetings Management Program (SMMP) Implementation and Idea Guide (from 2009, but still relevant and worth reading), “technology is the cornerstone of most SMMP programs enabling many of the key SMMP processes including meeting request/authorization, sourcing, calendar, online registration, travel management, cost tracking/reconciliation, analytics/reporting, ROI measurement, and evaluation.”

Ball adds that, “a key component for successful SMMP implementation (as with most technology implementations) is ease-of-use. Scrutinize the user-interface. Have your front line users test it thoroughly before making any final decisions.”

Automated forms, workflow components, budgets, approvals, and dashboard reports are all important components of meeting management programs that work. Choosing a technology provider that can provide consulting services can be of significant help.

Like any strategic initiative, an effective meetings management process must be achieved in carefully planned steps, which are too numerous to detail in this short blog (but can be found in the reports I mentioned). However, I suggest you also consider incorporating the following three capabilities into your technology selection:

1. Increase Visibility

  • Increasing visibility involves identifying detailed meeting activities. Just like any well-reported story, can your technology provider define who, what, where, when, why and how your meetings occur?
  • Is there an easy way to determine how much you are spending today utilizing real-time reports?
  • Can you easily calculate savings and return on investment of your meetings and events?

2. Drive Compliance

  • Be sure that your technology provider can ensure that your organization will adhere to legal, regulatory, financial, operational, and internal corporate rules.
  • Federal and industry-wide regulations can be long and cumbersome. Select a technology that assures that these are followed.
  • Attendee welfare and safety is always a key legal and ethical concern for meeting professionals. Be confident that your attendees are protected.

3. Save Costs

  • Can you track your preferred suppliers? Are you utilizing them effectively? Your technology should easily provide that data.
  • Supplier negotiation can be challenging, but if your technology has those capabilities, it can be considerably simplified.
  • Are you getting booking cost reduction? Your technology should be able to help you reduce those costs by up to fifteen percent.

Ultimately, it’s imperative to find a technology that is designed to streamline, automate, and enhance your process, providing end-to-end visibility while incorporating all corporate events and meetings.