The Meetings Management programs we are largely familiar with today were developed to meet the needs of early adopters, such as life science companies that are highly regulated, and often global. These programs are comprehensive and complex, and creating them was a work of years. But while designing and implementing a Meetings Management program can seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be for organizations with fewer business and regulatory requirements.
According the GBTA Meetings Committee, Meetings Management is:
A disciplined approach to managing enterprise-wide meeting and event activities, processes, suppliers and data in order to achieve measurable business objectives that align with the organization’s strategic goals/vision, and which delivers value in the form of quantitative savings, risk mitigation, and service quality.
To deliver on savings, risk mitigation, and service quality goals, a Meetings Management program requires three fundamental components; a Meetings policy or guidance, a technology platform to register events, source venues, maintain budgets, and report on supplier usage and compliance to the program, and a set of standardized strategic sourcing and meeting planning processes to ensure event quality and participant satisfaction.
Policy is a fundamental component of a Meetings Management program because it provides (1) the rules by which meeting owners and planners engage with suppliers (2) helps ensure the safety and security of meeting attendees (3) protects the company from potential financial loss or reputational damage, and (4) facilitates compliance with governmental regulations. Meetings technology systems, when properly configured, are key to ensuring policy and processes are followed, as well as to collect, store and report on meetings data. Standardized processes are key to achieving the business objectives of the meetings, and ensuring that organizations are protected from Duty of Care lapses and regulatory violations.
As a first step in creating a Meetings Management program, organizations should conduct a discovery process to serve as the basis for all future activities and the basis of a business case to be presented to senior leaders. With the information collected in the discovery phase, a business case can be created to demonstrate to senior leadership the need for the development of a Meetings Management program to rationalize spend and the supplier base, manage demand, mitigate the risks associated with live meetings and events, and provide stakeholders with the quality events they need to drive customer loyalty, facilitate client acquisition, and generate sales.
Organizations should conduct a discovery process to serve as the basis for all future activities and the basis of a business case to be presented to senior leaders.
Once the business plan is approved, organizations can put in place a governance team to help design technology solutions, payment processes, organizational goals and the program vision. The governance team should be comprised of key meeting and event stakeholders who will create a detailed strategy for how the meeting management component parts will be selected or developed, and then determine how they will work together. The strategy should clearly define the program goals, which countries and meeting types are included, the service configuration, and whether planners will be insourced, outsourced, or a mix. Consideration should be given to which policies and processes should be included, how risk will be managed, and which technologies will be used.
A detailed program design should also be part of the strategy development phase. The program design is a description of which meeting planning and technology partners will be engaged and when, what the overall technology strategy will be from system selection, ownership, integration, and reporting perspectives, how the program and events will be funded and how partners will be paid, what the booking process flow will be in order to achieve the organization’s goals, and how supplier relations will be structured to best benefit the company.
The resulting strategy document should provide enough detail that it can be used as a guiding document during the implementation phase of the project. The governance team should continue to be engaged and help determine the implementation scope, and identify implementation work streams and their leaders. Standard project management functions and methodologies should be used to ensure that a project plan is created and that work streams are on schedule. Underlying and running concurrently with the implementation plan there should be a comprehensive change management program that identifies and addresses potential sources of resistance to the Meetings Management program, and proactively addresses potential resistance.
In conclusion, we see that the essential components of Meetings Management program, policy, processes, and technology, are minimal, the real work of creating a program is in uncovering the needs of key stakeholders, developing the program strategy, and designing how the various components will work together.
Find out more about planning successful meetings, read our Simple Meetings Primer.
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