Feature—SMB* Events Management: How to Develop an Effective Program
by Christopher Dwyer, Ardent Partners
To develop a balanced viewpoint, it's important to look at a topic from all sides. We are accustomed to viewing event and exhibit programs from a marketer's POV. Guest author, Christopher Dwyer, evaluates these programs from procurement's point of view. And his analyses could point the way to better understanding between these two important business areas.
The modern *small- or medium-sized business (SMB) has faced a consistent issue over the years in regards to two of these complex spend categories. To start, business travel is a must; every organization, regardless of size or stature or location, must travel to spur business development and outreach with key clients, customers, and other organizations. And, travel’s “sister” category, meetings and events, are also a necessary function of how the average organization connects with the business world.
At CPO Rising, we’ve taken the time over the past year to highlight the various components of modern complex spend management. Each spend category within this greater banner (travel, meetings, contingent labor, print / marketing materials, etc.) presents its own set of specific challenges, pressures, and strategies. While there are general capabilities and competencies that fit into any program across these strategic spend categories, an enterprise’s size heavily plays into how category-specific programs are developed, executed, and managed.
Meetings and events, especially at SMB organizations, are a critical means of branching out into new markets and industries, as well as connecting with an existing client base. Like business travel, it can be considered a “cost of conducting business,” but that type of thinking ignores the strategic value of both of these categories. For the modern SMB to effectively manage its events, drive ultimate value of its strategic meetings, and build a long-term, efficient program, a few major steps must be taken.
The spend and supplier management aspects of events management are more important than any other for the SMB organization’s events management program in the initial developmental phases.
While many of the events management-centric articles on CPO Rising point to the evolution of this space, for SMB organizations in particular, spend and supplier management should be top-of-mind before diving into more advanced aspects. Finances will always remain a primary focal area for the typical SMB, and
“Engagement management” principles should follow as programs become more developed.
Engagement management is the new events management. However, for the modern SMB organization, focusing on principles within this arena (lifecycle of value touchpoints, social media interaction, mobile engagement, etc.) prior to honing spend management processes is akin to “putting the cart before the horse.” When the procurement and sourcing capabilities are robust and actively contributing to cost savings / reductions on meetings spend, it is time to build in engagement management principles.
The attendee experience will ultimately be the driving metric behind years two and three of the events management program.
Savings are often the barometer for spend management performance, even within complex spend categories. Significant budgets are allocated for business travel, corporate events, and temporary labor, and any reduction in costs goes a long way to improving the financial health of any enterprise. However, the market is experiencing revolutions in these complex categories, so much so that savings isn’t at the top of the performance list anymore. In the “intermediate” years of the SMB events management program (typically years two and three), improving the attendee experience should be a top priority. Metrics such as “emotional ROI” and quality / effectiveness are true indicators of the value of an SMB enterprise’s meetings and events.
Christopher J. Dwyer is Research Director & Vice President of Operations for Ardent Partners and frequent contributor to CPO Rising. Chris is considered a premier thought leader in the world of supply management and a renowned expert in contingent workforce management, travel and expense management, and meetings/events management. He is the preeminent source of thought leadership in these areas and evangelizes the evolution of complex spend management. Over the last nine years, Christopher has written hundreds of research reports and interviewed, advised, and benchmarked thousands of end-user professionals and executives in regards to their complex spend management operations.
CPO Rising [http://cporising.com] is the first independent media site written for and about Chief Procurement Officers and other procurement executives.
Ardent Partners [http://ardentpartners.com] is a research and advisory firm focused on defining and advancing the supply management strategies, processes, and technologies that drive business value and accelerate organizational transformation.
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