I do quite a bit of client and prospect consultations especially around Strategic Meetings Management Programs (SMMP) where I guess over the years I’ve gained a “guru” status for whatever that means.
One thing that comes up frequently is the mistaken notion that most meetings and events technology can enable SMMP. So let me share with you my candid response to that notion so when and if you are in a comparative shopping mode for technology platforms, you have a more apples to apples comparison.
Ideal SMMP technology should have some key integrations built in with your:
- HR systems
- Expense management systems
- Payment card solution
- TMC and OBT solutions
- Mobile solutions
What really annoys me are the number technology providers professing to be SMMP technologies that only have a registration and/or attendee management functionality with everything else built on other third party system integrations. Why is that important? Because for every integration you do with your main technology partner, you increase the likelihood and chances of something going wrong, most likely during a key event or meeting.
I’ve seen this happen many times, where in order to find out what and where the breakdown is; the backtracking of all of the integrations is time consuming and costly. What also ends up happening is a lot of finger pointing and ball tossing between the integrated partners so while precious time is ticking, you’re stuck trying to get someone to take responsibility for the situation and fix it immediately.
Yes, it’s a nightmare and you can compound that that nightmare by factoring in that a lot of meetings and events happen over weekends and non-traditional working hours, so you also have to factor in where the various integrated supplier help desks are physically located to determine if the time zone difference is going to impact the resolution of the problem.
Speaking of help desks, I want to go on record as saying that geographic locations for supplier help desks matter! Ask about it during your supplier vetting process; get availability of hours and a list of all days when they are closed. Also if English is your company’s primary language of communication, you have to ask about language proficiency – there’s nothing worse than trying to get a problem resolved and you can’t understand the broken or limited English of the help desk person. If you don’t already, you should personally or have your team members’ call and speak with help desk personnel especially if they’re physically located outside of the U.S. and check the English speaking proficiency yourself.
So the bottom line is this, do your homework and research in selecting your SMMP technology partners. Outside of the key listed integrations above, if the bidding suppliers for your business have a longer list of integrations in order to provide you with an SMMP, that’s a big red flag and that supplier shouldn’t be compared equally with another bidding supplier who has a more all-inclusive and ubiquitous platform solution. When it comes to SMMP technologies, you need to check into how many API integration dependencies you will be inheriting. In this case, more is not merrier, it ends up being more costly, frustrating and overly complicated.