Expert insight

5 ways to get your SMM right

1 February 2019

This five-point plan will help get your strategic meetings management (SMM) off to the right start.

Strategic meetings management (SMM) is a term used to define the management of meeting related spend, processes, standards and suppliers. Implemented well it can deliver savings as high as 32 per cent in the first year alone.

Big numbers aside, why is it important? Because without it total spend is questionable, data is often patchy and there is little or no visibility where meeting attendees are in an emergency.

A survey by the Global Business Travel Associate (GBTA) found that half of corporate meetings are 'simple meetings' - namely small and easily replicable. In Europe 29 per cent take place in hotel conference space, rising to 49 per cent in North America.

Of those companies surveyed, 44 per cent say they don't use managed meeting channels with a whopping 77 per cent relying on consumer search channels to find hotels for simple meetings.

SMM provides a framework to capture data on meeting host booking behaviours and why meetings take place. Mapped correctly it includes; the use of technology to connect your employees, how to maximise your internal estate to the management of your external meetings expenditure. In turn it delivers process efficiencies and helps ensure meetings are compliant with health and safety, allowing you to measure return on investment (ROI), and reduce leakage and costs.

However, before implementing your own SMM, you need to establish clear goals and measurable objectives:

What is the desired outcome?

Look at your current issues so you are clear what solution you require and more importantly where you need assistance. This could be to achieve greater spend visibility, drive compliance through a preferred supplier or remove the administration burden of signing venue contracts from your legal team, by defining the issue/s your SMM will be relevant and measurable.

Data analysis

Globally, 19% of GBTA’s respondents do not track expenditure. Look at the data available to consider the current and historical spend on sales, marketing, processes, policies and staff involvement and don't be afraid to conduct surveys with key stakeholders. It is imperative that you also research any data that is available from suppliers.

Plan

Armed with the data, you can start to look at the opportunities the SMM will bring. 72% of companies taking part in the GBTA survey didn’t track KPIs so don’t make the same mistake. Without goals how can you measure results? These can include process efficiencies, costs savings and avoidance, think too about risk management and delegate wellbeing.

The larger your organisation, the more likely it is you'll discover processes have been duplicated, multiple suppliers are set up on your accounts system and local negotiated rates are not accessible to the wider business. It's also common to find many employees doing the same job of meeting planning and contractual agreements signing with little knowledge of risk management.

Engage

Gather this research into an easy-to-understand format, to show how meetings are currently organised. When presenting the benefits of your SMM objectives, consider realistic time-frames, strategy and expectations. When selecting your stakeholders broaden your team to include meeting planners across a variety of business areas, finance, sourcing, IT and HR. This cross-business user group will ensure you have a holistic view and advocates to support with the roll out. A business case will allow you to identify how many meetings will be needed (and what types) and guidelines for best practice.

Implement

Once approved, it's time to put your plan into practice. This is where you communicate with your organisation the process undertaken and anticipated results the SMM will deliver. Your core stakeholder group should be involved in the wider roll-out and help support employees on the journey to SMM. Depending on the size of your organisation, you may wish to roll out in stages – perhaps regionally or geographically. Remember to learn from each stage, organise newsletters, drop-in sessions and coaching. Put a date in the diary a year after implementation to review the changes. The SMM you've created should evolve so this isn't necessarily the end - the plan should be reviewed frequently with new objectives reflecting each new data set.