Here’s the word from a bona fide meetings technology expert: Don’t rush out and buy meetings technology.

Mike Malinchok, CPC, who launched a strategic meetings management consultancy in late May—S2K On Purpose LLC— says one of the biggest mistakes companies make is to move too fast.

“We’ve created this belief that you’ve got to go out and buy the technology in order to develop an SMMP,” he says. “But if you’re not ready to plan the change management, don’t buy the technology.”

An SMMP, he says, is not a technology but “a philosophy about how to approach a spend category. You can do it without the technology.” Although he wouldn’t recommend that, either.

Instead, he advises meeting executives to “start with the end first,” know what your needs are, don’t rush. Companywide adoption of many SMMPs can be extremely low, he says, because the time and resources needed for implementation are not properly thought through.

Many meeting professionals, Malinchok says, rely on tech companies for education on setting up their SMMPs, which leaves them vulnerable to being sold systems that they don’t need or are not ready for. “In the meeting planning world, there is an expressed and an unexpressed fear of technology. We have buyers who don’t ask the questions they need to.”

Malinchok is in a position to know the right questions to ask and to help planners research the answers. His career has given him a front-row seat for the development of SMMP technology. After working in convention services and resort sales after college, he joined McGettigan Partners in the 1990s. McGettigan developed some of the earliest meetings consolidation technology, and Malinchok was part of the technology team that subsequently spun off to create StarCite. He spent a few years with Allmeetings.com then moved on to Sabre’s meetings technology development group. For the last three years, he was again working for StarCite, this time developing strategic partnership programs.

After being let go during StarCite’s downsizing last year, Malinchok earned his certification as a life coach before launching S2K On Purpose to provide technology consulting, training, and executive coaching around SMMP implementation. The new company has no plans to partner with a technology provider.