by Loren G. Edelstein | April 01, 2010

There has never been a better time to bring meetings management skills to a higher level. Organizations are now scrutinizing areas of unmanaged spend to increase efficiency and streamline costs. The concept of an SMMP, or strategic meetings management program, is built on these primary objectives, and recognizes that processes related to meetings and events should involve key stakeholders across multiple departments, from travel to procurement to risk management and human resources.

Implementing a thorough SMMP is no simple undertaking, notes Debi Scholar, PricewaterhouseCoopers' lead and director for travel and entertainment expenses. Scholar, who holds the certifications CMP, CMM, CTE and others, consults with Fortune 100 companies on expense management initiatives related to meetings and travel, and has had a prominent role in the National Business Travel Association's efforts to develop tools and educate the industry about strategic meetings management.

This past January, Scholar led a seminar for the New York City Business Travel Association, a chapter of the National Business Travel Association, on how to build a business case for strategic meetings management. Just preparing the case to present to top management could take 100 work hours or more, Scholar estimates, and implementing the process could take several years.

Following are highlights from a 26-page template that Scholar shared with NYCBTA attendees. The full document is available for download at here. To begin with, a solid business case must have the following components.

Executive summary

Many people read only the executive summary and the financial analysis when reviewing a business case. Therefore, this should be a concise and compelling digest of your proposal. It must generate enough interest so that the document and idea will survive the initial screening process, convincing top executives to accept and move forward on the actions requested.

Answers the questions:

  • What business problem will this solve?
  • Is this a good fit with our strategic initiatives and objectives?
  • What are the important business objectives for our organization?
  • What value will this bring?
  • What are the costs and benefits?
  • What are the risks?