New Model Would Assess Strategic Mtgs. Maturity - Business Travel News

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New Model Would Assess Strategic Mtgs. Maturity

August 25, 2010 - 04:15 PM ET

By Chris Davis

A new model to measure and analyze corporate strategic meetings management program development and implementation is being constructed by the NBTA Foundation and meetings technology supplier StarCite, officials said this month.

When complete, the Strategic Meetings Management Maturity Model will be able to classify a program's progress in categories including policy, sourcing and technology implementation, and offer recommendations for subsequent steps.

Officials hope to release the model by the end of the year.

StarCite and the foundation—the research and education arm of the National Business Travel Association, which separately announced the names of the first 29 recipients of its Strategic Meetings Management certification—based the model on a framework for software development created at Carnegie Mellon University, industry research, focus groups and white papers authored by NBTA's groups and meetings committee.

"This is what's going to make strategic meetings management available, accessible and possible for every company," said KK Strategic Solutions president Kari Kesler, a former corporate meeting buyer and member of the groups and meetings committee, at the NBTA International Convention & Exposition this month in Houston. "This model is going to turbocharge the pace of maturity and help us all go forward faster."

When released, users would complete an online questionnaire that would request details of all aspects of a corporate meetings program, including policy, strategy, meeting registration, sourcing, planning, payment, technology and reporting.

The model, accessing an extensive database of strategic meetings management concepts and philosophies, then would analyze the responses and assign numerical levels of maturity, helping to classify program aspects as "random, discovery, emergent, operative, excelling or mastery," in ascending order of maturity.

The model also would offer a "prescriptive report or action plan to get to the next level," according to Kesler. However, the model would not strictly define whether a meetings management program could be defined as "strategic," she said.

"It's less about saying you do or don't have an SMM, which, frankly, we struggled with as we were building the certification," Kesler said. "I like this a lot better, because whether you do or you don't, it helps you get there."

While the wide level of variance in corporate meetings program structures ensures there could never be a one-size-fits-all-corporations configuration, the model nevertheless assumes that there are specific, particular strategic meetings management building blocks that all organizations could embrace to further their meetings management efforts. However, there's no guarantee that a given corporation would want to advance to a higher level, said Xerox Corp. manager of global travel and meetings management Tracey Wilt, "if their internal corporate objectives are different than the objectives of the next level."

On the other hand, "it's feasible and possible that you may scale different divisions in your company against the maturity model to see who's more advanced, and how the other division could catch up," said StarCite vice president of enterprise strategy Kevin Iwamoto.

The model also will be able to provide information on best practices and case studies for companies at each of the six levels of maturity, officials said. As more users input corporate meetings data, the model's utility will expand. "Later, when there is a critical mass of data, then we will be able to provide some benchmarking," according to Kesler.

The model will undergo a vetting process to ensure the analysis it conducts and prescriptive plans it offers are sound and unbiased, Kesler said. "We've tried really hard as we've developed this to make sure it's independent of any one of our opinions on the best way to do it," she said.

StarCite senior vice president of worldwide marketing Kevin Young compared the model to Capability Maturity Model Integration, a software-industry performance-improvement process "that helps software development organizations get more mature and gives best practices and guidance to get to very advanced practices," he said. "We said, wouldn't it be great if we had the same thing in the meetings world, where we could help people step their way through and gradually get to a very robust, complete, enterprise-wide program? We've worked with the NBTA Foundation to do that, fund the research and put it in place."

The model would be the latest in a series of deliverables from NBTA since it formed the groups and meetings committee in 2003, including a series of white papers on constructing a strategic meetings management program and the SMM certification, of which Kesler and Wilt are among the first 29 recipients. 

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