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. Executive summary
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.
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?
Top Reasons Why Most SMMP Efforts Fail
Implementing a successful
strategic meetings management program is a huge undertaking that more often than not results in failure. So says Kari Kesler, president and chief strategist of Minneapolis-based KK Strategic Solutions, who has had to overcome those odds at three different companies. "The vast majority of corporate SMMPs either stall or simply never reach their potential," Kesler notes. "To me, that's failure."
Kesler breaks down the most common reasons she's seen for derailed efforts. • Major decisions are made without research or due diligence.
Broad, strategic changes often are made in a vacuum. Someone might elect to centralize meeting planning and outsource it all, for example, without establishing whether that model will work with the company culture.
• Only some pieces of an SMMP are implemented.
"Some people believe SMMP is just about getting all of the contracts centralized, for example," says Kesler. While putting some pieces in place might be helpful, it won't help that company realize the benefits of an SMMP.• There isn't executive buy-in.
Kesler doesn't believe you need executive buy-in to start a program. But to grow the program and keep it going, that buy-in is crucial.
• The project leader rushes in uninformed.
Much of what is known in this young field was learned through trial and error. That's slowly changing, and expertise is available. Those charged with implementing new programs should take advantage of that, be it through consultants or educational opportunities.
• There isn't broad stakeholder buy-in.
This, says Kesler, is the number-one problem with failed or stalled SMMP efforts. "Almost every other problem stems from this one," she asserts. The importance of getting a broad base of support from key stakeholders -- not necessarily C-level -- can't be underestimated.
By Michael J. Shapiro
To make a strong
argument for change, you must completely evaluate and understand the
existing environment. This section outlines the strengths, weaknesses,
opportunities and threats inherent in the current situation.
External environmentConduct a comparative
analysis of how competitors manage meetings and events. What are the
best practices in this realm? Include other relevant statistics and
projections for factors that will influence the marketplace.Answers
meetings and events managed today?
What are issues of
concern with respect to the current situation? Why can't it continue as
What is the gap in the existing environment
(risk, spend, savings, service, consistency, processes, resources,
What do the business leaders think about the
What do other stakeholders think?
do the customers think?
What do the suppliers think?
is the scope of your analysis and initiative? Is it global? Domestic?
Are meetings and events
captured in a centralized system today?
in place to ensure that meetings and events meet strategic objectives
and approved budgets?
Is strategic sourcing and
contract management considered?
Are contracts signed
by authorized approvers and, therefore, legitimate?
the planners have the right skill set to ensure quality and
Are we employing multiple planning
Are payments made to suppliers using a
centralized system in order to capture all meetings-related spend?
all legal and regulatory risks mitigated?
Do we have
clear visibility into all meeting and event spend?
do we capture the data in the current environment?
the current reporting structure make sense?
the stakeholders contacted to discuss the current situation? What have
What obstacles do we face?
How do our
competitors manage this spend?
What are the options
for service? If our customers do not use the services of our meetings
department, where are they turning (e.g., internal executive assistants,
external meeting planning companies, etc.)?
our competitors structured?
Where do our competitors
Where are our competitors weak?
are our competitors' pricing and discounting policies?
are the demographics of customers who will use our meetings management
drills down to the details, outlining areas for process improvement,
savings, risk avoidance and other benefits to carrying out a strategic
meetings management program. To emphasize the extent of currently
unmanaged spend, consider adding a pie chart showing the estimated
amount that would be managed under an SMMP.
Strategy and recommendationsThe type of
strategy you propose will vary based on your organization's structure,
needs and objectives. For example, a market penetration strategy might
include moving meetings management into business units that are not
currently using your service. Or, a service development strategy could
involve introducing new services, such as virtual meetings or
incentives. Determine your strategic focus by speaking with stakeholders
and understanding the problems and risks in your enterprise.
Do we have
consensus throughout the enterprise to manage meeting spend?
much money can be saved?
How much risk can be
How can resources be used to reduce
duplication of effort and increase productivity?
how much can we improve quality and consistency?
can unnecessary meetings be eliminated?
meetings be approved by leaders before being planned?
crisis management, how can we capture where meetings are occurring and
who is attending them?
How can we leverage our
transient and meeting spend throughout the enterprise?
can we ensure that documents are retained in the proper location for
the correct amount of time?
How can we streamline our
How can we determine if we have
the right number of preferred suppliers?
we direct our spend to those preferred suppliers?
will we overcome the obstacles that exist?
What are the
What is the strategy?
do we recommend?
What business problem will this
Based on the financial analysis, will
this be profitable for us?
What are the critical
What are the services we're
proposing with this business case?
Will the services
fit within our strategic initiatives and objectives?
value will this bring to the business? What are the rewards?
will customers use our service?
How will they value
What will influence their decisions?
are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats with this
What is the reporting structure and
- Why is that structure the best?
What are the alternatives?
- What are the priorities that must be
implemented first? And last?
analysisDemonstrate the incremental cash-flow difference
between the proposed environment and the current environment. Cost
savings are apparent only when two scenarios are compared. Be sure to
include an analysis in addition to the numbers. Try to assign financial
value to all benefits of the project. For example, if cycle time is
reduced or service is improved, determine the related dollar savings.
How much will
this cost? (Consider insourced staff, outsourced meeting management
company fees, technology, operating costs, change management and
What methods will be used to obtain
Will the returns be able to justify the
How will the returns be calculated?
will this do for our business performance?
we maximize the results?
- Which financial criteria are
important to decision makers?
Who assumes the costs?
receives the benefits?
How much will we save in hard
dollars, soft dollars and productivity?
will be mitigated that could be translated into savings?
resources are required?
What technology is required?
What metrics are business leaders seeking? How
the targets of this initiative. Will it roll out to the entire company?
A specific business unit? Only executive assistants and other ad hoc
Answers the questions:
How do we know the business wants us to
deliver these services?
What is the market potential
for these services? Is there unmanaged spend today? How much?
is our service and industry?
How do we differ from
our competitors? What is our unique selling proposition? (Competitors
might be internal staff members who plan meetings in addition to their
How do we sell this service? How do we
Is it insourced, outsourced or both? Why?
is going on in the environment that could affect our plan and our
How do we educate and motivate
customers and potential customers?
How will our
customers evaluate the value or importance of our service?
do our customers make their buying decisions?
customers have purchasing policies to follow (requests for proposal,
Who makes the decisions?
influences the decision-making?
Who approves the
spending? What are their spending limits?
How will we
distribute our message? To what audiences? By what media?
will the desired solution be implemented?
How will we manage the changes to the
What training is required and for what
What compliance enforcement measures and
consequences will be in place?
How will we know if
up with a brief summary of the key elements of the proposal, along with
recommendations for moving forward.
What is the most
important message of this business case?
What is the
business objective it will accomplish?
will it solve?
What will it cost?
motivational initiatives will sell this solution?