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When business consulting, technology systems integration and
outsourcing company Logica's team of administrative assistants in the
Netherlands were tasked with developing processes for greater control over the
company's meetings program last year, they took it upon themselves to implement
technology to track spending, garner discounts and preferred relationships with
meeting venues and manage their requests-for-proposals process.
In September, executive assistant to the managing director
of human resources for Logica's Benelux region Sandra Lafeber and her fellow
administrative assistants began using Dutch meetings technology firm
Meetingselect's Web-based software, giving them capabilities to compare venues
and manage the RFP process.
Through the tool the company now has access to more than
60,000 hotels in Europe and can see its meetings volume at specific properties.
Now, for the first time, they are negotiating with properties with which they
have significant spending. "Two or three years ago that was not
possible," Lafeber said. "You had to take their price."
Beforehand, she said there were hundreds of administrative assistants
"doing it their own way."
The drive toward adding a technology-based process to its
meetings management couldn't have come at a better time for Logica in the
Netherlands, said Lafeber. Last year, a company reorganization downsized the
administrative and executive assistant staff by 100. As senior executives
looked for cost savings across the company, they also pushed for more reporting
on its meetings expenditure for greater control.
Logica in 2009 also reaped savings by holding fewer off-site
meetings. Lafeber said most internal basic operational meetings were held in
meeting rooms in the company's 12 offices in the Netherlands, while training
and team-building meetings stayed off-site.
Lafeber and about 150 administrative assistants manage
pieces of the meetings booking process at Logica in the Netherlands, including
venue sourcing, transportation and food and beverage. The administrative team
also manages the company's videoconferencing systems, including its four
dedicated rooms in Amsterdam. The Reading, U.K.-based firm has 39,000
employees, with 5,500 in the Netherlands. Lafeber, who has been at Logica for
less than three years, books about 100 off-site meetings annually.
New technology and other program improvements have set the
company up for further gains as it increases the number of meetings it holds
and its spending this year.