In the past, the main driver of implementation of an strategic meetings management program (SMMP) was to control (read: reduce) costs. Now, with a laser focus on meeting site selection, the types of meetings being held, and who is attending, it has become even more critical for companies to have a meetings policy and program in place. Visibility and transparency have become as imperative as oversight.

It’s not acceptable for the CEO of a company to plead ignorance as to why specific meetings were placed certain destinations. However, in reality, a CEO “doesn’t know what he or she doesn’t know.” It’s up to those of us involved in meetings management to educate the C-suite on what is taking place in the organization by capturing this information and turning it into knowledge.

How to Take the First Steps

If your company does not have a registration, approval, and tracking mechanism in place for meetings, it’s critical that you take the initiative to develop a solution and get executive buy-in as soon as possible. This will protect not only your company, but your department and your own job. Depending on the volume of your organization’s meetings, or how quickly you are able to move, your first phase may simply consist, in its most basic form, of the following steps:

  • Create a set of guidelines covering the types of meetings that must be registered through your department, and have the CEO follow that up with a companywide policy that is communicated to all.
  • Register meetings via e-mail to a specific person who is responsible for monitoring and reviewing them.
  • Meetings are entered by your team onto an Excel spread sheet for tracking and auditing purposes.

A more mature process could be automated to include registration on a meeting portal on the company intranet, an online approval process, and a data-collection tool.

What’s the next frontier? As more and more businesses do things that lend themselves to positive PR—like including CSR (corporate social responsibility) activities as part of a meeting, greening meetings, or using carbon offsets—they need to create a centralized process to monitor these activities. Otherwise, it will be virtually impossible to report out the successes the company is having or to mark your achievement of measurement milestones.

BACK AGAIN!

We welcome Betsy Bondurant for her second year as our strategic meetings management expert. View previous columns she has written for the MeetingsNet website.