February 2012 . www.conference-news.co.uk . 69 WHITE PAPERSompanies 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 benefi ts of measuring the real value of meetings compared to simply making sure attendees and stakeholders are satisfi ed.Research fi ndingsMPI's Business Value of Meetings (BVOM) research has revealed two signifi cant fi ndings 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 a 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 that successfully measure the business value of their meetings focus on only a few key elements, making the costs of measurement less than most perceive.The benefi ts of measuring BVOM MPI's BVOM research revealed Perception vs realityMeeting Professionals International (MPI) recently launched its Business Value of Meetings (BVOM) toolbox based on research fi ndings. We offer an edited extract from one of the White Papers produced: dealing with the issue of low perception of return on investment (ROI)The costs of implementing a business value of meeting measurement strategy are controllable, and the benefi ts are immediate and long termC
70 . www.conference-news.co.uk . February 2012 WHITE PAPERSevents held per year at AECCseveral benefi ts resulting from proper measurement, reporting and planning:Clarity of purpose: By understanding the measurable outcomes, professionals can make their meetings more cost effi cient and more clearly align their activities, and environments with clear objectives.Quantifi cation of meeting success: Meeting professionals and the organisations they serve learn just 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 and design, set future goals and establish realistic expectations.Identifi cation 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 measures: Gaining 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.Comprehensive 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 effi cient and effective. The reduction of time, money and personnel, combined with clearly stated objectives, makes the actual costs and benefi ts of meetings easier to evaluate. Events with unclear purposes are diffi cult to assess, because proper budgets and outcomes are speculative. What it means Meeting planners who are concerned about the price, value or ROI of implementing a BVOM measurement strategy may be assured that the costs are controllable, and the benefi ts are 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 clearly defi ned, measures appropriate and results used to make improvements to meetings, and the process itself. Budgetary costsPerception: Measurement is cost-prohibitive, time consuming and diffi cult. 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 defi ne their expectations and communicate them to meeting and event stakeholders.The costsThe perceived and actual costs of measuring the business value of meetings vary signifi cantlyThe cost of effortPerception: Measuring a meeting's business value is all-or-nothing. Meeting professionals must determine the ROI of every element of a an event. The expected complexity, tools, time, personnel and training needed comes with big costs and 'career risk'. Few can agree on a specifi c 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.