Autodesk Global Sourcing

Designing a seamless sourcing solution for global event growth.

savings in reducing potential attrition

$10.9 million

totals savings for 2018


growth in number of meetings managed 

Autodesk is a leader in 3D design, engineering, and entertainment software. The organization hosts hundreds of annual events including user conferences, business meetings, and a global sales kickoff. “We manage all of the sourcing and contracting for everything from our 10-person team meetings all the way through our 11,000 person user conference, and everything in between,” notes Gigi Gleason, Global Strategic Senior Manager. 

The Global Strategic Meetings department at Autodesk has counterparts across Event Strategy, Global Customer Events, Sales, and other groups to create a holistic events strategy across the organization. The Senior Managers of these groups comprise a Global Events Council, which allows each team to support and foster interdepartmental relationships to better support the business. 

Eliminating Manual Inefficiencies for Global Growth

Previous disparate systems failed to provide the integrated data points needed to benchmark and track program growth. The team did not leverage total spend in the sourcing process, while inadequate reporting capabilities meant they had little insight into program maturation. The internal teams needed a simplified process for meeting requests. They also sought to accurately capture spend and benchmark budget versus actuals in order to showcase year-over-year savings to stakeholders. 

The intent to expand globally necessitated improved sourcing processes to meet growing demand in the EMEA and APAC regions. Internal meetings were decentralized, lacking clear processes for risk management, data tracking, and ensuring cost savings. Financial policies were not adhered to, contracts were individually managed, and other problems created stopgaps in effective event management. The organization realized the need for a robust meetings management system to better capture and leverage in-depth event data.  

To achieve their program goals, Gigi's team balanced the need for a centralized program with stakeholder expectations across the company. They sought to generate cost savings by eliminating duplicate efforts across multiple vendors and platforms for each event type. They wanted to better enable their counterparts across departments to gain efficiencies through integrated tools designed to reduce manual labor, increase cost savings, and generate a clear line of sight into meeting spend and scope. “We were really trying understand what was going to drive value for each of those stakeholder constituencies we were working with and how we communicate that value to them,” explains Gigi. 

Designing a Seamless Sourcing Solution  

Managing the global sourcing and registration needs for Autodesk’s portfolio of events necessitated an integrated technology solution that would provide key cost savings for internal stakeholders while protecting the organization from excessive risk. Gigi’s team realized that implementing a Strategic Meetings Management program (SMMP) was the clear solution. In 2014, Autodesk adopted a host of Cvent solutions to help manage their suite of meetings and events. “I’ve done many technology rollouts in the past, and it was the most seamless technology implementation I have ever experienced,” notes Gigi. “We were up and running super quickly, and I think the results kind of speak for themselves.”

Teams can now leverage Cvent’s Meeting Request Portal feature for smaller events, which is quickly transformed into an RFP. This seamless process eliminates transcription of paper forms and risky data gaps with manually tracked requests. The Cvent Supplier Network enables the team to source venues using unique criteria and filters. “We source almost everything out of Cvent and, in the end, everything does end up in Cvent one way or another,” Gigi notes. “Rather than having every single hotel follow up with us individually, they’ll go through the NSO and it’s very efficient. It saves us tons of time, and we use the Bid Report that comes out.” The integrated reporting functionality allows team to pull customizable, on-demand reports for stakeholders. These help further prove the value of the team and their growing suite of events within the larger organization. “We continue to expand and we don’t have a mandated program, so we have to provide excellent customer service. That’s really the foundation,” notes Gigi. The growing team is helping to scale the program, and they are now sourcing premier meetings across the organization as a result.

The team has been entrusted with a drastic increase in meetings across the organization because of their investment in this technology. “Sourcing is our primary hat, but we do wear a couple of other hats as well…we do registration sites, we do CrowdCompass, and we have OnArrival,” notes Gigi. By creating cross-department collaboration with visible success, the team is steadily growing the suite of events they manage. Their successful global rollout was inspired by the impressive increase in the number of meetings, contracted venues, and savings they have provided to the organization within the US program. The team has since doubled the number of meetings offered in EMEA region while expanding their team to meet international program demands in the APAC region as well.  

Creating Valuable Cost Savings Across Autodesk 

Gigi’s team has created key efficiencies that provide millions in cost savings for the larger organization. Her team uses Cvent to track attrition and proactively address issues before meetings actualize. “As soon as we were able to see that something is beginning to not look right, we were able to go out to the hotel in advance and work with them. So for one year, that was a savings of $649,000,” notes Gigi. Creating proactive cost savings for the organization has allowed the team to prove the value of their events, as well as their investment in event technology. She adds, “We have a great track record of being able to rebook other Autodesk meetings that can use that space for a future meeting. All of that data is flagged in Cvent, so we’re able to easily identify those properties. That’s just a massive cost savings for the company.” 

As a result of their success, Gigi’s team has been tasked with what one executive described as the “most important marketing project of the year.” After twenty-five years spent hosting their annual user conference and sales kickoff in the same location, the CEO asked Gigi’s team to source a new location and rebuild both events from the ground-up. “It's been a very challenging process, but it's been an amazing process,” she says. “Again, our source of truth for all of the real information is Cvent.” As her team moves to source venue options across multiple locations under tight timelines, she looks to the benefits of a centralized and integrated platform. “We're able to keep track of our contract deadlines and deposits all in the system. We have our dashboards set up, know what contracts need to come up next, and everything else. Cvent has really been at the center of that,” she explains. 

Showcasing Impressive Results for Executive Stakeholders

As a result of their tireless efforts, Gigi’s team has been able to benchmark data and track program growth. They have grown the total number of global events by 28%, reaching almost 350 annual events.  What began as a small team of two managing roughly $900,000 in savings has grown to a seven-person team creating an astounding $10.9 million in savings. Gigi credits her Cvent team with helping to guide technology success. “It’s been a very successful partnership from day one and started with a really strong foundation,” she explains. “We know we’re in good hands at all times, and the online support features are unparalleled within the industry.”

The team’s success has served as the first step in creating a global meetings policy. Gigi insists the key to their programmatic growth is understanding individual stakeholders’ needs in order to deliver the program that best fits their values. These efforts have not only allowed the team to better support cross-department relationships, but have increased their visibility within the organization. “It is definitely elevating what the team does and what our mission is,” she notes. “We regularly meet with our chief human resources officer, who we roll up into. We also meet with our chief financial officer and our chief marketing officer, as well as our CEO.” 

Creating true financial impact within the business and increasing efficiencies helps ensure Autodesk can scale for future success. The team is now successfully mitigating risks and integrating with Autodesk security while ensuring they leverage spend across all Autodesk meetings. They have not only met internal stakeholder needs and expectations, but have helped create enterprise-wide efficiencies. “I think the marketing organization really does understand that events are critical to the marketing ecosystem,” Gigi says. "We've been able to prove those numbers and we gained trust with all of our stakeholder communities."

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