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Keep it Simple – Strategic Meetings Management

Most executives have visibility and oversight into 15%-20% of the events taking place in their organization.  These are the big ones, with full legal contract review, and the professional planning team executing on every detail.  It’s the smaller events, the ones that make up the other 80% that can get you into trouble unless you have a great events policy.  An events policy defines the face to face marketing experiences; what they are, who can host them, what vendors to use and who can sign the contracts.  It provides the framework for the insight which ensures your organization is legally and fiscally protected from the programs you don’t see.

What makes a great events policy?  Simply put, it is ease of use.  Event policies fail when they are too complex to easily digest and follow.  I once worked for a Fortune 100 Technology company with an impressive event policy.  It took up an entire 3” binder and included every detail for any situation related to events.  People in every group and region of this company were planning events for employees and customers, signing contracts and hiring vendors without any knowledge of the policy.  The ones who were aware still didn’t necessarily comply, and the complexity merely discouraged use.  It was the right thing, done the wrong way, and useless to all.

Below are a few elements that will help you build the foundation (and most of the structure) for a policy done right.  One that protects you in every event.

  1. Clearly define the parameters of an event. Is it determined by the budget, how many people attend or travel? No matter what your definition is, make sure it to state it clearly in common language.
  2. Create a documentation process. Expensive technology isn’t always necessary in the beginning, but as your registered events increase, it can be a wise investment. Determine your organizational threshold for the hours spent on manual tracking, and do occasional pulse checks on the time spent monitoring events and approvals. This process will help you to define the best practices for your organization. At times, there may be more information than you can collect, but remember you don’t need to know everything in the first pass. Make it easy for the person submitting the request. Here are examples of the information you will want to document.
    1. Budget
    2. Total number of attendees
    3. Meeting owner and contact information
    4. Location
    5. Type of meeting – customer event, training, trade show, etc.
  1. Create an approval process. Define; who can have a meeting, who can plan a meeting and who can sign contracts.  Keep it simple, clear and easy for your approvers to keep things moving.  Consider tying the approval process to budget levels and contracting parameters.
  2. When should you use on-site event spaces or teleconferencing? Keeping smaller meetings on site, will reduce your risk and can make a significant impact on the budget.
  3. What is included? Does your organization provide planning services, sourcing, approved vendors or technology?  Ensure employees can easily understand what is provided internally and how to access it.  All of these details provide a level of comfort for users that keep them compliant with the policy.

As you build or review your policy, ask for feedback from others.  People outside of the development process will give you a clear read on how the general audience will interpret it.

A good policy is created for the people who understand how the event process works. A great one is designed for the people who don’t. Keep it simple and you will find, not only will people follow your policy, but they will enjoy the process, and encourage others to do so too!

In future blog posts, I will share best practices for execution processes, savings tips, and insight into monetizing the non-revenue driving events for valuable ROI.

Related Article: Strategic Meetings Management

Until next time!