Since 2012, Fortum has been following Strategic Meeting Management Programme with its meetings and events. What path have they travelled so far and what advantages have they gained? Let Anette McCarthy, Purchasing Manager Indirect Services for Fortum, tell us more.
"For me, it seemed obvious to connect meetings with travel management", describes Anette. "I volunteered to dig in to the grey area, and managed to convince my manager on the importance of Strategic Meeting Management."
When Anette started her task, meetings and events were like "Wild West". There were few partner agreements and no consolidated data to manage and keep track of the costs. Both Anette and Fortum's Travel Management Company, American Express Global Business Travel GBT together with its Finnish representative SMT started an investigation to analyse this gap with interviews and data analyses.
We both came to the same conclusion: we had this much uncontrolled spend that no-one was aware of in the company.
So Anette launched a separate project and gathered around her an internal project team with meetings and event arrangers from both Sweden and Finland. "You must take step by step, and not try to swallow the horse at once", Anette warns. "The analysis phase only took us approximately one year." Anette had to work her way through hundreds of undefined service suppliers, various contracts the terms of cancellation of which no-one had really inspected, and resisting meetings arrangers who wanted to keep on shopping suppliers here and there.
Today, the project is still ongoing but Fortum has already made important steps in Strategic Meeting Management Programme. "First, we analysed some of our own business cases and all their costs in meeting management. For example, we calculated how much time it actually takes to organize a meeting from start to end if we do it ourselves and the result was surprising for all the stakeholders, Anette lists.
"Secondly, we have streamlined our scope of suppliers. We have identified the important ones and made proper, over read contracts with them. This brings savings to the invoicing process. And thirdly, we have created a meeting and events policy that is easy to follow and that unifies our internal processes and makes meeting arrangements simpler, saving again our time and efforts."
Still, there are new steps to take. For example, Fortum will demand more and more for its reduced network of suppliers. The company is looking forward for new ideas and new offerings from the existing suppliers - a wish to challenge them. Another developing area is reporting. Fortum seeks for improvement in supplier reporting to fulfil the detailed needs of their meeting management.
Yet, it is clear that meetings and meeting management are here to stay. "Although video conferences have become more frequent in internal meetings, there will always be need for face-to-face meetings", Anette assures.
How to start a Strategic Meeting Management Programme in your company? Read Anette's best tips:
1. Realise that implementing a full meeting management will take time.
You must be patient and prepared for even resistance. On the other hand, even small steps can already make a big difference in you meeting management.
2. Gather a lot of data.
You can't manage what you can't measure. To manage your meetings spend you must know it first. To do this, you must gather as much information and data as possible.
3. Acquire the support of management.
Your ideas won't fly without it. Make a good presentation, show the spend and sell your case.
4. Don't throw aside all freedom of choice
People want to decide themselves. Give them a freedom of choice but within certain frames and certain suppliers. Make sure your meetings policy is not too strict and too detailed to depress all.
5. Share success stories
It takes a lot of work and support of the management to sell your project through the whole company. People's behaviour doesn't change in an instant. Get some envoys to take your message through locally. Collect success stories and share them with everyone.