3 Must Haves for a Successful Global Strategic Meetings Management Program

Part two in a multi-part series on successfully globalizing a strategic meetings management program. Identifying constituencies affected by change, their reasons for resistance to change, and available tools to overcome their resistance to change, are the three ‘must haves’ to facilitate the implementation of a global program. Applied early and often these change management strategies will facilitate a more painless and successful adoption of the global strategic meetings management program, since without effective change management there will be a constant battle with entrenched interests.


We often think that lining up our suppliers and meetings technology are the preliminary steps in creating a strategic meetings management program, but I would argue, based on my recent experience implementing a complex global program, that the first step is really about creating buy-in at the management and key stakeholder levels. Without this buy-in, adoption will be a constant battle with those with vested interests or those comfortable with the way meetings are currently handled.


In the following sections we will focus on these three ‘must haves’ by looking at the constituencies affected by change, potential resistance to change, and the available tools to guide them through change as the global strategic meetings management program is implemented.


Constituencies and Sources of Resistance to Change

There are four key internal constituencies that must buy into the value proposition of a strategic meetings management program in order to facilitate a smooth transition from the current state. The fifth constituency – incumbent suppliers – has also been known to quite actively resist change, which is no surprise given that their existing processes and procedures might be upended, and their livelihoods put at risk.


The following table shows each of the five constituency categories, the members of the constituency, their roles with respect to meetings, and their sources of resistance.




Sources of Resistance

Board of Directors Standing Committee members responsible for enterprise risk management Enterprise risk management oversight Risk management fatigue
Senior Management Chief Executive Officers, Chief Financial Officers, Chief Risk Officers, Chief Audit Executives, Chief Compliance Officers, Country or Region Leads Enterprise risk management planning Possible new and unwanted responsibilities
Customer Stakeholders Executives, sales and marketing VPs, business unit leaders, executive and administrative assistants Meeting owners Satisfied with current suppliers and processes
Internal Service Delivery Stakeholders Internal meeting planners Event-by-event level service delivery Customers are content with current suppliers and processes
Incumbent Suppliers Third-party meeting planning companies Event-by-event level service delivery Customers are content with current suppliers and processes (and so are we)


  • Boards of Directors – nowadays most Boards have standing committees responsible for the oversight of an organization’s risk management program. As I have discussed in my series of articles and eBook on managing risk in meetings, meetings & events present significant duty of care and regulatory concerns that Boards are very interested in, and once made aware of the risks associated with strategic meeting management programs, these committee members should engage themselves in increased oversight of meetings & events. However, due to the ongoing focus of Boards on risk over the past several years, some Boards might be fatigued with the efforts and be reluctant to take on yet another initiative in this area.


  • Senior Management – the executive management team is also highly engaged in risk management, but more from the planning and execution perspective. As such, once they become aware of the risk issues associated with meetings & events, they should engage in planning to mitigate the regulatory and duty of care risks. The comments above regarding possible Board fatigue also apply to the senior management team.


  • Customer Stakeholders – are the consumers of meetings & events within organizations. In the case of complex or high profile events they have likely spent years developing relationships with internal or external planners, and would be resistant to ‘messing with success.’


  • Internal Service Delivery Stakeholders – are the internal resources that have emerged organically over the years to service customer stakeholders. In some ways this group can be one of the largest sources of resistance to change during the creation of a strategic meetings management program, especially if they believe their positions to be in danger due to outsourcing of the program to an external supplier. Rarely will they express their resistance in those terms, preferring to focus on the impact to internal customers.


  • Incumbent Suppliers – are engaged with internal customer stakeholders and view the implementation of a strategic meetings management program as a potential threat that could impact their processes and procedures, and possibly their revenue. While they cannot be visible players in the resistance to change, in some cases they will act as sources of information in support of the resistance by internal service delivery stakeholders.



Available Tools

While the change management process entails many steps, one of the most important is the creation of a series of communication documents written to address concerns as viewed from the stakeholder’s perspective. These documents should be positive yet honest visions of the global strategic meetings management program and the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) for the stakeholders.


The documents are presented in a communications calendar format, and in the sections below I describe each type of document and the importance of the calendar.


  • Communications Calendar – below is an example of a communications calendar for a global strategic meetings management rollout, showing only one page of many. The document is a calendarized list of all change management documents and when they will be utilized in the pre- and implementation phases of a global rollout. The calendar also describes the objective of each communication, the target audience, and the owner (developer) of the document.

Click on the calendar for a clear image

Communication Plan



The calendar is linked to a critical path time line, an example of which is shown below, with the documents in the calendar identified by numbers representing the critical path phase of the rollout. Every country will have its own calendar.

Click on the time line for a clear image

Implementation Critical Path



  • Executive Business Case – addresses the risk oversight concerns of the Board by presenting an overview of the six risk types inherent in meetings & events, and the activities required to manage those risks. The goal of this document is to generate support for the steps necessary to mitigate the risks, and support for a mandated global meetings program.


  • Executive Launch Statement – announces the launch of the global strategic meetings management program to the entire employee base, and explains the rationale for, and components of, the program. This memorandum explains that the program is mandated and presents clear consequences for noncompliant employees.


  • Requirements Definition – as discussed in the first article of this series, a core program should be created that is the same from country to country, and should include the invariable aspects of the program that support the key objectives of senior management, such as policy, sourcing processes, and technology configuration. Unique business requirements, such as country-specific regulatory data collection requirements should be documented at the country level and incorporated into the requirements definition document.


  • Global SMM Program Overview – is a summary of all aspects of the program, targeted at meeting stakeholders, country leads, internal or external meeting planners, or any other constituency requiring an overview of the program. This document describes the ‘what’ of the program, i.e., the components, but also the ‘why’ of the components and how they work together to achieve senior management’s goals and objectives. Sections covered are (1) Goals and Objectives of the Program (2) Global Meetings Policy (3) Components of the Program, and (4) Implementation and Critical Path Overview.


  • Value Proposition – is a presentation document derived from the Global SMM Program Overview described above. Each country has its own version, which answers the questions: What is it? Why we are doing it? How does it impact me? The presentation explains the strategy and why strategic meetings management, shows the key pillars of the program, and what will be different for the meeting stakeholders under the SMM program.


  • Resistance Mitigation Strategies – addresses risks to program success, such as resistance to registering all meetings in the enterprise meetings technology system, or rejection of the new processes and procedures by a certain business unit. The document describes the risks, their likely probability and impact, and strategies to mitigate the risks.



Resistance is a common reaction to change. Our work lives are crazy, and change requires effort. Besides, most people are comfortable with, or have a vested interest in, the way things as they stand. Why fix something that isn’t broken? Why mess with success? These are common refrains during change. But we, dear readers, know the risks inherent in meetings & events are significant. We also know that the Board of Directors and senior management team are right in wanting to mitigate the duty of care and regulatory risks for the benefit of the employees and the organization. To not do so risks life and limb, as well as the legal and fiduciary health of our companies. By identifying the constituencies affected by change, their reasons for resistance to change, and developing tools to overcome their resistance to change, we will facilitate the smooth implementation of the global SMM program, and contribute to achieving the goals of the program.


Join me next time for part three of my series on global implementations of SMM programs, where I will discuss compliance management.


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