In our article on busting the myths of strategic meetings management programs, we discussed how technology is not a magic button that will implement your SMMP on its own. And that’s true – technology won’t run your meeting program by itself. Implementing and maintaining a successful SMMP takes strong planning, policies, and support. But technology does play a key role in the management of your program. The last thing you want to do is introduce inefficiencies with the technology when that’s precisely the problem you are trying to solve for.
How to Choose the Right Technology
We know that it’s important to choose technology that aids in efficiency rather than inhibits it, but if you’re new to SMMPs or don’t play a day-to-day role in the technology efforts of your organization, then knowing where to start can be overwhelming.
Long gone are the days of the fax machine and spreadsheet as a way to manage meetings effectively. While they were sufficient technologies for SMMPs in early iterations, it’s no longer an efficient way to run your program. But if those are the types of technologies you are comfortable with, then making big (both financially and organizationally) decisions about which technologies to implement can be a struggle.
But not to worry. Whether you are just getting started with your SMMP or are looking for a much-needed update, then we’ve got some actionable tips to help your decision-making process go smoothly.
- Full circle. The SMMP process can be a long one and there are many moving parts, especially in larger organizations. When seeking out technology to assist in the implementation of your program, it’s important that the technology you choose can support the entire breadth of the program. It must go full circle. Your SMMP solution should manage the entire meetings and event lifecycle from planning, promoting, managing, and engaging to evaluating your events.
- Since meetings and events are known drivers of sales and revenue growth, it’s no surprise that organizations spend up to (and over, in some cases) 1% of their budget on meetings and events. The best way to think about your budget for technology is to look at what your 1% equates to in dollars, then use the 10-15% estimated savings over the first two years to estimate how much your program will save your organization. The software should be able to pay for itself within those two years, so use your numbers to plan accordingly. Don’t just guess.
- Your SMMP technology stack should provide visibility into the process. After all, that’s part of why you are implementing it in the first place. It’s all in the details. Your technology provider should be able to define who, what, where, when, why and how your meetings occur as well as easy reporting that shows how much you are spending and the return on your investments.
- The benefit of an SMMP is that you can better ensure that everyone in your organization adheres to compliance guidelines – both internally and externally. Your technology stack should ensure that your organization will adhere to legal, regulatory, financial, operational, and internal corporate rules. Federal and state regulations can be tricky, but a good SMMP technology provider will make it easy to manage and track adherence to such policies and regulations.
- Cost Tracking. The biggest reason organizations choose to implement an SMMP is cost concerns. Make sure your technology can not only track your savings but can be a driver of those savings. The technology should enable you to track your preferred suppliers and ensure that you are using them effectively. It should help you manage those relationships and make negotiation easier.
The Program Drives Change, Not the Technology
If you follow these tips as a guide, you’ll be up and running with your SMMP technology before you know it. It’s an important part of the process, but it’s key to remember that the technology can only take you so far. You have to have a strong and enforceable policy as well as executive and stakeholder buy-in to have a successful program. The technology should be an enablement tool, not the catalyst for changes to your meeting programs.