by Kari Kesler Wendel | November 01, 2011

The following checklist was compiled by Kari Kesler Wendel, senior director of SMM Program Management + Solutions for Minneapolis-based Carlson Wagonlit Travel Meetings & Events. The framework outlined here, adapted from CWT Vision, provides a practical approach to setting the foundation for a strategic meetings management program. Part 1 (M&C, Checklist, October), which addressed strategy and policy development, registration, approval and sourcing, can be found online at This month, Part 2 covers planning and execution, payment and expense reconciliation, data analysis and technology selection.

Planning/ExecutionEvaluate the experience and skill set of employes currently planning meetings of all sizes. Some might lack formal training but have a wealth of experience, and vice versa. With the right management, each can be made a valuable asset to the program while still ensuring compliance to SMM policies and procedures.

Provide an outlet where meeting planners can share best practices, to avoid re-creating the wheel and duplicative efforts for each event. This is critical to maintain a smooth process.

Don't allow the SMM program to add a significant amount of workload to planners' already busy lives. While there might be an initial increase in work as the program is implemented, SMM should ultimately make meeting and event planning more efficient and effective.

Payment/Expense Reconciliation
Implement solutions that improve visibility into meetings spend and simplify or streamline processes for meeting planners.

Don't be limited to only those technologies the company already uses for other payment and expense processes. Other options might be better suited to the unique nature of meetings and events.

Data Analysis/ReportingDemonstrate the SMM program's value through regular reports that track progress in terms of savings, planner and attendee satisfaction, and other benchmarks.

Provide case studies outlining cost savings due to policy compliance for key meetings throughout the year. This will demonstrate value and improve buy-in from leadership.

Don't simply pass along reports as they are generated. Look for the overall story the data is telling regarding progress and additional opportunities, and share that information with stakeholders. Think about how the data can be used to encourage further buy-in and participation throughout the organization.

TechnologyEstablish goals and objectives for how technology will drive improvement in the meetings and events program, and make those central concerns as available meetings technology is researched and considered.

Discuss technology with peers who already have implemented such systems. Ask about the successes and challenges they experienced.

Don't purchase technology and then retrofit SMM policies and processes to the tool.

Don't assume technology will automatically or easily solve problems in the SMM program. Technology is helpful, but it is only one piece of the SMM puzzle.