Kelley Butler has worked with McDonald’s throughout her 27 years in the meetings industry—as a supplier, a consultant, and, for the past eight years, on staff in the meetings and events division. “My background was in event management and entertainment production, and I was brought on staff in 2004 to bring that discipline to the group, then promoted to director in 2007.”
EVOLUTION “When I took over the department, it was evident that we had a great group of subject-matter experts who are outstanding at managing and executing programs. However, we were decentralized when it came to sourcing, leveraging our spend, minimizing our risk, and tracking to our business objectives.”
So she has spent the past 18 months developing an SMMP. Pilot groups in the U.S. are just beginning phase one (centralized sourcing and contracting); the search for a technology partner for vendor sourcing, master calendaring, budgeting, savings documentation, and attendee management/registration is nearly complete; and a full rollout of the program is expected in the U.S. by the end of 2013.
AHA! MOMENT Butler realized that she needed to show people within the company “that we were bringing value and not taking something away.” She pulled together three-dozen internal focus group participants, asking them “how we could help create efficiencies for them.”
ADVICE “The most important thing is to know your culture. I think a lot of people approach SMM as though it’s just another meeting planning initiative, but it’s so much more than that. You need your financial partners, legal partners, and HR at the table from the beginning.”
Next, she says, “You can’t go to management and ask for an investment without having the data to support your case.” She sought out others in the meetings industry going through the SMM process through her connections at the Professional Convention Management Association (where she leads the corporate task force), and she worked with Meetings Analytics to develop her business case.
“Realize you’re in it for the long haul. SMM is not something where you can flip a switch and have it finished tomorrow.” - Sue Hatch