There were posts by industry experts, all of which made excellent points. For example, one said it's necessary to create a global policy that allows for variances in cultures -- in order to raise compliance. Among other points posed by another industry expert was that organizations need to consider if the "resources need to be centralized in one organization or close to the internal client?"
Here are a few of my thoughts based on my own experiences in developing and refining a global SMM:
Top on my list, is that you need robust, globally capable technology to build a global strategic meetings management program. While it’s understandable that procurement professionals focus on costs, they usually miss out the relevance of functionality differences that can make or break success for a global deployment. If the SMM internal stakeholders, subject matter experts or travel/meetings manager are not included in this sourcing engagement, it is highly likely that a successful global deployment for a SMMP is not going to happen.
What am I referring to? Review your SMM technology RFP and if you haven’t included these questions, then you are not being set up for success. Specifically:
- Does the technology have multiple language options?
- Is there multiple currencies for sourcing, back-office and reporting purposes?
- Does it offer industry-specific meetings management solutions that address unique legislative requirements, such as solutions for the pharma and life-sciences industries?
- Does it easily support an expanding scope of meetings attendees and sometimes planners (assuming your business is growing)?
- Does it offer 24/7 service and staffing (real, live people to talk to) for meeting planners in any region of the globe? If so where are these people located and what’s their level of engagement? Is it a shared call center?
- Is the technology accessible remotely? In other words, if software updates are made, how easy would it be for the application to be updated using a SaaS (software as a Service or Cloud computing) versus relying on an internal/external server that requires end users to update their versions?
- What other current customers have deployed the supplier’s technology globally? Your benchmarking will only be as robust as the number of similar customers that reside in the peer group.
- Ask for references and names of customers who have deployed their SMMP globally. By the way, they do exist.
The list of global deployments is still relatively small but rapidly growing. Large multinational corporations are always first to lead due to the urgency to achieve cost savings, cost avoidance and process efficiencies, while also mitigating risk.
Don’t short change yourself by delegating your voice to a procurement colleague who doesn’t know your business and operational challenges. Be pro-active and remain engaged or force yourself a seat at the table so all of the above and more are addressed when selecting the right supplier for your SMMP goals and objectives.
A technology solution that supports companies' wide array of needs -- whether they do business in Minneapolis of Mumbai -- is the key ingredient in building a global meetings management program.