Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) is a disciplined approach to managing enterprise wide meeting and event activities, processes, suppliers and data in order to achieve measurable business objectives aligned with the organizations strategic goals/vision, and deliver value in the form of quantitative savings, risk mitigation and service quality.

The Strategic Meetings Management Maturity Index allows meetings managers and executives to quantify the developmental progress of their SMM Program across 13 distinct categories. Understanding that each SMMP and each organization (defined as a company, corporation, partnership, association, government agency, educational facility, supplier, or any other entity that conducts meetings or events) is unique and each approach is different this index is based on best in class models.

After completing the entire assessment questionnaire, the Index displays your score in each of the 13 categories as well as an aggregate score for your entire program.

The Index then provides you with a prioritized list of detailed recommendations to further develop your program, thus increasing your SMM score, and ensuring continued improvement and growth of your SMMP.

The 13 categories of assessment are:

1: Strategy (7 questions):

Strategy is the overall direction of how meetings and events will be governed within an organization. It directly supports the organization’s goals and mission within the framework of its culture and capabilities. The strategy will encompass business justifications and executive support to drive implementation as well as to provide funding models.

2: Policy (8 questions):

Corporate policy outlines rules, regulations and guidelines relative to meetings and events. It includes elements such as definitions, approval process, meeting registration, contracting and risk management, logistics, payment process, and use of technology. Policies may be mandated or strongly encouraged with lack of compliance actions outlined. Policy is the foundation to establish processes.

3: Meeting/Event Registration (5 questions):

The start of the process that pulls together all elements of the SMMP to capture consolidated, consistent, and auditable data. Data type and purpose are determined before a meeting/event registration system is implemented.

Meeting and event types are registered on an organization-wide calendar. The calendar data is used to make business decisions such as quantifying the value of the event, alignment of similar events in a business segment, industry saturation, scheduling, funding and staffing physical resource requirements etc.

The meeting/event registration process may route through intentional varied fields or paths based on type of meeting/event. The registration process allows for virtual meetings as well as face-to-face meetings.

Meeting/event registration data triggers dynamic messaging to provide the user with guidance. The data segmentation offers trends to the business unit. And, conditional navigation may be used to require more information from the user if certain thresholds are surpassed or more information is needed.

 4: Approval (3 questions):

There are various types of approvals required in the SMMP process:

1) Budgetary – The meeting/event is routed through an approval process to ensure alignment with budgets.

2) Financial – The meeting/event is routed through an approval process to allow leaders the opportunity to confirm that the meeting makes sense from a financial perspective.

3) Compliance or regulatory – The meeting is routed through an approval process to ensure compliance with industry-specific regulatory guidelines or laws, SOX regulations, or other company-specific compliance requirements.

4) Risk – The meeting is routed through an approval process to allow leaders the opportunity to confirm that the meeting complies with the various elements in the meeting policy.

There should be a determination of who can approve a meeting/event, and how approvals will be collected and communicated. A strong approval process drives compliance, enables consistency and produces better business decisions.

5: Data Analysis and Reporting (8 questions):

Data analysis and reporting is important at the meeting level, yet probably more significant at the enterprise level, with consolidated reports including all meeting data for meetings/events over a period of time. These reports call out trends which justify decisions and subsequent actions. They measure the program’s progress, monitor compliance by end users, and point out areas of strategic opportunity. Summary reports and analytics for suggested behavioral changes are shared with senior executives and business leaders. These reports often are broken down by organizational segmentation (i.e., division, business unit, functional area) and by type of meeting/event. For global programs, each of these reports also may be run at the global, regional, country and/or market levels.

6: Technology (2 questions):

Online meeting management technology systems provide full support to SMMPs by way of consolidating data into one central database and automating meeting processes to drive efficiencies. Key components include meeting registration, calendaring, pre-approval, online RFP tools, hotel information, budgets, attendee registration and reporting. Some examples of how technology enhances SMMP:

1) Automate workflows with notifications or alerts sent to stakeholders when tasks or reviews need to be completed.

2) Facilitate vendor and/or hotel selection, sourcing and contracting processes.

3) Manage all facets of attendee communications and registrations.

4) Manage meeting budgets and financial reconciliations.

5) Provide consolidated reporting of meeting activities statistics and business analytics.

7: ROI/ROO/ROE (6 questions):

ROI objectives are developed and communicated using business goals and objectives. Meetings/events calculate the return on investment or other value-driven measurements to quantify the outcome in both business value and SMMP savings strategies. Business units begin to depend on reported metrics for planning purposes.

8: Planning, Program Design, and Execution (9 questions):

Planning may be managed by internal planning professionals, external suppliers, and/or other internal associates who are not full-time, professional planners but occasional planners. During the discovery phase, a company will determine what type and how many planners exist in the corporation, as well as how often meetings are outsourced to suppliers and to which companies.

In theory, supplier selection and contracting tasks are completed prior to planning. In reality, planning activities take place throughout the entire process, although the majority of the work occurs once contracting is complete. At this stage, the components of the program and logistics begin to gel and the very detailed work to prepare for delivery of the meeting takes place. There are several keys to success during the planning phase. SMMP leadership should ensure that the policies and procedures the planner(s) follow are documented clearly and are easy to reference. In addition, it is critical to clearly define the roles, responsibilities and expectations of the SMMP leadership, meeting planners and suppliers.

9: Payment/Expense Reconciliation (5 questions):

Payment/Expense reconciliation provides clear direction on how to pay for and acquire meeting related services and products through a standard process. The process links planners with tools and resources to ensure that adequate controls are in place around data capture, auditing, reporting and reconciliation. This process allows stakeholders and planners to apply data to drive decisions. It includes an integrated approach of matching the internal GL codes to meetings/events spend.

10: Sourcing/Procurement (7 questions):

Strategic sourcing is a method of procuring goods and services that is collaborative. It may include buying with volume discounts and often involves preferred vendors. The goal of strategic sourcing is to enhance process efficiencies while realizing cost-savings in specific spend/cost categories. Best-in-class practices suggest that sourcing be managed by one centralized, dedicated department, either an internal or external (supplier), who is responsible for leveraging the organization’s entire meeting-related spend. This keeps the accountability for this activity separate from planning operations. In other words, the model allows planning professionals to plan and sourcing or procurement professionals to source. In some environments these functions overlap, making collaboration essential to program success.

11: Stakeholder Management (5 questions):

Meeting/event stakeholders are identified at multiple levels within the organization for one or more business units. Key supporting stakeholders help drive program deployment, change management and success. Stakeholder assignments drive relationship building and provide input for continuous improvement efforts.

12: Communication and Leadership (3 questions):

Communications activities include the development of a business plan, alignment of executive sponsorship and communications activities throughout the organization.

13: Resource Modeling (3 questions):

Creates a resource model to identify resources (internal, external or a hybrid model) to maximize efficiencies.

Meeting/event resource modeling incorporates enterprise-wide requirements for delivering meetings/events.  It supports changes in the business requirements or supply/demand of resources.  Continuous improvement occurs regularly and the organization uses appropriately skilled resources.

If you have any questions or technical difficulties, please contact GBTA Research at [email protected] for assistance.

Prompts based on total average maturity level after self-assessment

The model is designed to assess an organization’s “maturity” on the following scale:

Level 1 – Unmanaged – Meetings Management support processes are either non-existent or happening in an ad-hoc fashion.

Level 2 – Developing – The need for Meetings Management support processes are recognized, and the critical program elements have been identified.  Design of these processes may be starting.

Level 3 – Emergent – Meetings Management processes to support critical program elements are in place and are centralized.

Level 4 – Operative – The Meetings Management program is working and delivering value; compliance is beginning to gain traction.

Level 5 – Excelling – Meetings Management program is widely adopted, and is  supporting and delivering on overarching business objectives.

Level 6 – Mastering – The Meetings Management program is delivering value across the enterprise, platform is scaleable and is supported by ongoing efforts for continuous improvement.

If you have any questions or technical difficulties, please contact GBTA Research at [email protected] for assistance.