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ISSUE 67 / ConfErEnCE & MEEtIngS World / 17MPI White PaperPerception vs realityMEEtIng ProfESSIonalS IntErnatIonal (MPI) rECEntly laUnChEd ItS BUSInESS ValUE of MEEtIngS (BVoM) toolBox BaSEd on rESEarCh. WE offEr an EdItEd ExtraCt froM thE WhItE PaPEr ProdUCEd on thE ISSUE of loW PErCEPtIon of rEtUrn on InVEStMEnt (roI)ompanies that successfully measure the business value of their meetings report that the process has changed greatly over time. Early measures centred on accomplishing objectives, but the understanding of those objectives and the ability to measure them has improved to the point at which they now provide a good understanding of the actual business value of meetings. The challengeMany meeting professionals believe traditional ROI is the only viable way to express value but consider it to be an expensive proposition (both in terms of time and money) that's impossible to accurately estimate, so they just don't measure for business value at all. The challenge is to understand the costs and benefits of measuring the real value of meetings compared to simply making sure attendees and stakeholders are satisfied.Research findingsMPI's Business Value of Meetings (BVOM) research has revealed two significant findings relative to this challenge: 1. Many corporate cultures embrace measures of value other than traditional ROI. They want to know if a meeting accomplished its stated objectives, because this implies Cabove: xxxxx

18 / ConferenCe & Meetings World / issUe 67MPI White PaperThe reduction of time, money and personnel, combined with clearly stated objectives, makes the actual costs and benefits of meetings easier to evaluate. Events with unclear purposes are difficult to assess, because proper budgets and outcomes are speculative. What it means Planners who are concerned about the price, value or ROI of implementing a BVOM measurement strategy may be assured that costs are controllable and benefits immediate and long term. For a measurement strategy to be effective, it needs to be implemented as part of a process wherein stakeholders are engaged, objectives defined, measures appropriate and results used to make improvements to meetings and the process itself. The cost of effortPerception: Measuring a meeting's business value is all-or-nothing. Meeting professionals must determine the ROI of every element of an event. The expected complexity, tools, time, personnel and training needed comes with big costs and 'career risk'. Few can agree on a specific purpose for the event, meanwhile, and there are too many variables to measure.Reality: Organisations that successfully measure the business value of their events start off measuring just one or two key elements, depending on objectives (changes in safety procedure awareness, number of new customers who watched a product video).Events often have numerous purposes, but only a few matter business-wise, such as upping knowledge levels and sales. By simplifying priorities, resources can be devoted to the highest value elements of meetings.The cost of timePerception: Understanding and implementing ways to measure, analyse, report and act upon the business value of events is time consuming, and there are inadequate resources to effectively implement a solution.Reality: Because measurement strategies can be implemented incrementally, focusing on apparent objectives first, meeting professionals can start with as little or as much time as they have available. Added tasks can be defined in advance and built into workflow. Meeting professionals who have successfully implemented measurement strategies indicate that the actual time needed to start the process can be as little as 10 hours over the course of an entire event. They say the process is highly valuable, though sometimes difficult.Budgetary costsPerception: Measurement is cost-prohibitive, time consuming and difficult. Proper implementation could even require consultants, in addition to new software and materials.Reality: The cost of implementing an effective measurement strategy is manageable, because meeting professionals decide the speed and type of implementation in advance. Meeting professionals make progress in understanding the value of their meetings simply by having candid, no-cost discussions about precise expected outcomes and objectives. Budgets often become available merely as a result of an increased awareness of the strategic role meetings play, once all interested parties define their expectations and communicate them to meeting and event stakeholders.The costsThe perceived and actual costs of measuring the business value of meetings vary significantlyComprehensive measures Each individual measure can be assessed for value. New measures can be introduced to help understand and use that information. This process results in more comprehensive views of the business value of meetings and leads to a better understanding of the contribution of meetings to an organisation, and in many cases leads to good approximations of ROI.Easier evaluations Successful strategies for understanding the business value of meetings lead to a process for improving meetings. This is central to assessing value.As meetings become better, they become more clearly aligned with objectives, therefore more effective. As meetings become better, they become more clearly aligned with objectivesmpia business value, even if that value is not reduced to a monetary quantity. Most corporate cultures don't see a need to determine traditional meetings ROI.2. Most organisations successfully measuring the BVOM focus on only a few key elements, making the costs of measurement less than most perceive.The benefits of measuring BVOM MPI's BVOM research revealed several benefits resulting from proper measurement, reporting and planning:Clarity of purpose By understanding the measurable outcomes, professionals can make their meetings more cost efficient and more clearly align their activities, and environments with clear objectives.Quantification of meeting success Meeting professionals and the organisations they serve learn how much needs to be done to accomplish their goals by creating, deploying and reporting on measures of meeting success. This allows them to establish budgets, make strategic decisions about meeting logistics, design goals and establish realistic expectations.Identification of strengths and weaknesses By understanding a meeting's strengths and weaknesses, professionals can better concentrate resources where they are needed most and leverage asset areas.Creation of better measuresGaining insights into meeting performance relative to objectives requires trial and error to get meaningful information for the lowest cost. Implementing an intentional and planned strategy for understanding the business value of events leads meeting professionals to develop better measures over time, making the process more valuable.