SOMETIMES, THE MEETING INDUSTRY MEDIA, in its search for something new to report, gets caught up in promoting whatever it's fed — even if it has little effect on most readers. I'm not here to tout the industry associations' agendas, or those of consultants championing the latest meeting measurements. ROA (return on assets), ROO (return on objectives), ROE (return on equity) — all of these business buzzwords eventually filter down to the meeting industry press, but sometimes it's difficult for me as an editor to see how they relate to your everyday jobs.

CSM, which stands for consumption and specification management, is an acronym that actually makes sense. Lynn Ridzon of Bristol-Myers Squibb, this month's cover subject, has driven an initiative in her department that focuses not on the bigger picture of meeting objectives, but on scrutinizing every expenditure and asking her internal customers a lot of questions, such as “Why do you have to hold the meeting off-site if we have a company-owned conference facility nearby?” and “Why do you need such a nice hotel if attendees will be in training meetings from morning to night?”

In the past, her staff would have had to work within the parameters of the meeting request to negotiate the best deals on meeting space, hotel rooms, and airfare. Now she is charged with taking a closer look — and is backed by her higher-ups. As a result, she will save the company $10 million this year alone (on top of negotiated savings through consolidation). BMS's C-level execs all know who she is, and the procurement director is looking to get her promoted. She, too, has earned herself “a seat at the table” — the expression often used by those who urge planners to advance their careers by getting more involved in setting objectives.

An initiative such as CSM makes more sense for many meeting planners than trying to get involved in areas beyond their expertise. It's not consultant-speak, and it's not the latest wave. (It has been a procurement practice for years.) That's because it saves money quarterly, while taking care not to negatively impact meetings' objectives — and isn't that all that matters in large, publicly held companies?

Barbara Scofidio


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