by Kari Kesler Wendel | October 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. This month, Part 1 covers strategy through sourcing and procurement. Look for Part 2, which addresses planning and execution, expense reconciliation, data analysis and technology, in the November issue of M&C.

StrategyDefine the size and type of gatherings the organization is interested in tracking and managing.

Start gathering data on current and future meetings and events spend by having all meetings registered through a central person or system.

Ensure the SMM strategy aligns with and supports overall organizational goals and objectives, and adjust accordingly when priorities change.

Don't waste time and energy gathering data on past meetings spend.

Policy Clearly communicate guidelines and resources to planners and attendees, including the types of meetings and events that must follow the process vs. those gatherings that can be managed independently.

Benchmark the meetings policy against that of peer organizations and/or other internal policies, such as corporate travel.

Don't assume a nonmandated policy is ineffective. While corporate culture might not support mandates, SMM professionals still can ensure high levels of compliance by creating logical and beneficial processes, and by communicating rationale and ongoing progress to the entire internal team.

RegistrationBe sure that stakeholders understand what to expect once they have successfully completed the registration process.

Don't create a registration process that is so lengthy or cumbersome that meeting organizers get confused or frustrated.

Don't set the process up for failure by neglecting to forecast and appropriately resource for the number of meetings that will use the registration process/system.

ApprovalIdentify whether an approval process is required for a meeting to occur.

Don't let approvals stall with busy executives. Instead, ensure that approvers understand the time allowed to respond and the escalation process if responses are not received in a timely manner.

Sourcing/ProcurementProvide every meeting with a unique identification code to which all expenses will be associated.

Understand that different types of meetings and events require different approaches to purchasing.

Don't assume preferred vendors for other areas of the organization, including corporate travel, are equally appropriate for the meetings and events program.