17 experts advise on what’s to come this year. Spoiler: Data factors big.
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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
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
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