How is your meetings program working for you? Are you leveraging your spend to achieve the best results? Are there weak points, inefficient processes, frivolous spenders, standout performers?
Implementing Strategic Meetings Management is all about working better and smarter. It’s about saving money, reducing risk, satisfying customers, and ultimately, making your organization more successful through in-person interactions. This post outlines how SMM technology can be used to track your program’s effectiveness, so that you’ll always be driving down the road to improvement.
Using Technology for Measurement
Almost any process where data is generated and collected is ripe for automation, including processes related to meeting planning and execution. The benefits are manifold. Countless hours can be saved if information is logged automatically, uploaded to wherever it needs to be, and shared appropriately in real time. The chance of data transcription error is reduced to near zero.
All of that is remarkable enough, but then add in the analytical power of having that information in place, ready to be crunched to provide insights and alerts. That yields fresh new visibility into performance, how things are working, what things are not, where improvements are possible, and where troubles are brewing. That’s where some of the “gee whiz” elements of SMM emerge. Reporting on your program also supports the continued buy-in of executive leadership, and helps achieve auditing compliance and ensure data integrity.
All of these opportunities are the result of getting data into one system with broad visibility. Your SMM technologies are gathering and warehousing information from the very beginning, when the meeting requestor puts in the request form and that form begins working its way through the approval process.
More data flows in automatically during the sourcing process, through negotiations and contract signings. Your system continues collecting information as estimates are received, invoices are submitted, and payments are made. Even more details enter the system when attendees sign up and make travel and accommodation arrangements, then check in at the event. Plus, there’s plenty of data to capture at the event itself, including which sessions attendees attend, what appointments they make, and how they interact using polls.
Your technology continues to gather data after the event as attendees return surveys about their experience. As meeting data gets shared with other systems, such as your CRM or customer management system, you begin to get data on how an attendee focused event has affected downstream contacts, queries, and sales.
That’s a bit of a rundown of the inputs, at the event level. Now, imagine what your system can do when it takes all that data from one event planned by one department and stirs it together with similar information from other events within that department, or in other departments. Or when you compare a similar event at this site versus that site. Or this time of year compared with another time of year. Or this vendor versus that one.
Imagine being able to see which area is performing the most efficiently or delivering the highest ROI. Imagine knowing who’s staying in compliance with policies and procedures religiously and who is operating a bit too loosely.
Generating Reports and Charts
There’s seemingly no end to the kinds of reports and charts you can generate with a powerful SMM system. Just about any data you put in can come out in the form of a report or chart. Here are some examples of the kinds of things you might choose to generate to measure how your program is doing:
- Budgeting: Learn how your upcoming planned events fit with the planned spend.
- Actual spending: Find out how well you’re adhering to budgets, and who is not. Check spend by department, or spend by region, or spend by participant. Check budget versus negotiated rates versus actual spend to spotlight cost savings.
- Event totals: Compare your events by numerous criteria, such as attendance, cost, or ROI. Compare events by month or by department. The more your program shares details with other systems such as CRM or sales tracking software, the more reports you can generate, including details on leads generated.
- Policy compliance: Spot trends to see where procurement policies are not being followed, or when a meeting is out of compliance with policies designed to mitigate risk.
- Contracts involving a particular vendor: Generate volumes of data that will be helpful in upcoming contract negotiations.
- Events by location or region: Learn which places are used the most, and spot savings opportunities or trends that run counter to company priorities.
- Canceled space: Uncover opportunities for rebooking at venues where cancellation penalties have accumulated and turn lemons into lemonade.
- Survey results: Display evidence of how your customers are experiencing your events.
- Liability: Use SMM visibility to keep tabs on potential risks. Travel reports, for example, can help assure proper attention to duty of care.
Automating Processes and Measurement
The idea of centrally tracking meetings was not a new idea for one mutual life insurance company with presence around the globe. It had been doing so for years, but it required a lot of manual work.
The company decided to move its meetings management to Cvent technology. Improvements became apparent from the very beginning of the meeting-planning cycle, when an automated request and approval process replaced a PDF-based meeting request form.
Now, the company has a requester portal that offers direct communication between meeting planners and those who need meetings, wherever they are in the enterprise. The meetings policy is there for easy guidance, approvals are efficiently tracked, marketing events facilitated, and registration handled online. There’s an audit trail, too.
On top of all that, at the click of a button, there’s enterprise-level reporting that just wasn’t possible before. Management can now have specific reports automatically generated and delivered on a regular basis. New and easy-to-use ways of measuring and reporting are offering keen insights into everything from cost savings opportunities to risk management concerns.
Your SMM technology should give you the choice of generating standard reports or custom reports. You should be able to create whatever report you want, whenever you want it, and also set up customized dashboards and regular, automatic reports.
Excerpted from Strategic Meetings Management for Dummies © 2019 a custom published product produced with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.