If you don’t know the business value of your event, you’re not alone. That doesn’t mean it isn’t time to start measuring.
MPI'S NEW BUSINESS VALUE OF MEETINGS TOOLKIT WILL BE AVAILABLE JUNE 8.
Once again, the U.S. government is questioning the need for conferences and events, this time in the wake of a General Services Administration meetings scandal that saw sushi nights, mind readers and a musical talent award showcase.
Not that fun isn’t acceptable—it is, when it meets clearly defined objectives that can then be measured and analyzed. And if GSA’s planners had these, they certainly weren’t mentioned in a scathing April auditor’s report. Nor did they come out in the media carnage that followed it.
If the AIG meetings fiasco in 2008 (and subsequent slashing of corporate travel and event budgets) didn’t prove the need to measure the value of your meetings, maybe the GSA controversy will.
And this time, you’ll have the tools you need to get started.
It’s with great timeliness that MPI unveils its Business Value of Meetings toolkit, supported by the MPI Foundation and AIBTM. The toolkit walks meeting professionals through the five steps of event measurement—from addressing the “why” to addressing the future.
Following, find a preview of what’s available.
PERCEPTION VS. REALITY
Companies that successfully measure the business value of their meetings report that the measurement process has changed greatly over time. Early measures centered on accomplishing objectives, but the understanding of those objectives and the ability to measure them has improved to the point that they now provide a good understanding of the ROI of a meeting. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misperceptions regarding the case for measurement (you have to determine the ROI of every element of your meeting, determining the real purpose of meeting is nearly impossible, understanding and implementing the process is time consuming, measurement is cost-prohibitive). time consuming and difficult. Proper implementation could even require consultants, in addition to new software and materials.
This toolkit includes a webinar on what's at stake, a tutorial on measuring what matters and a supplement on making smart changes, among other items.
Once meeting professionals decide to measure the business value of their events, they often have difficulty gaining the full commitment and support of all stakeholders, such as department managers, company executives, colleagues and/or attendees.
- Past failures at gaining support, due to a poor presentation of the purpose, or a missed opportunity to engage the stakeholders
- A presumption that stakeholders are too busy to be involved
- Concern that stakeholders will see it as a performance measure (which could expose failures)
- Belief that stakeholders do not see the usefulness of measuring the business value of events
- Lack of confidence that the measurement can be explained adequately, resulting in a negative perception of the meeting and its planner
As a result, meeting professionals often limit measurement to feedback on logistics or attendee satisfaction. These generally provide some guidance as to the mood and/or experience of delegates, and therefore pass as sufficient tools for measuring a meeting or event. But the actual measures of greatest importance should be determined by the meeting’s objectives.
This toolkit includes an article on the case for change, a stakeholder question bank and a glossary of financial terms related to meetings and events, among other items.
DEFINING YOUR OBJECTIVES
To successfully calculate the business value of your meeting, you have to understand its goals and objectives, which are often undefined—until you challenge your stakeholders to explain them.
Clearly defining objectives is absolutely necessary to understanding the business value of meetings. Without clearly defined and expressed objectives, there is no standard against which to determine the value of a meeting’s performance. While most organizational cultures rely on intuitive standards to assess their meetings, organizations that measure the actual business value of their meetings always adopt objective, documented and measurable standards to understand the value of their events.
Defining meeting objectives isn’t easy, however. Objectives must be expressed in terms of measurable outcomes. Whether objectives are tangible or intangible, meeting professionals must devise ways to measure and calculate meeting outcomes over time as a way to understand actual meeting performance and to take the next steps to better understanding the business value of their meetings.
Gaining consensus from stakeholders about objectives is even more challenging for larger events with multiple (and sometimes competing) objectives.
Gaining stakeholder consensus is not as critical as gaining stakeholder commitment and support. Rather than assessing which objective is the most important, meeting professionals can establish several relevant measures, when needed, in order to satisfy multiple stakeholders’ needs for measurement. As long as they are supportive and committed, the meeting professional can proceed.
Stakeholder commitment to this process begins once meeting professionals define measurable outcomes. With stakeholder support, there are techniques that have proven effective in helping meeting professionals discover what their true meeting objectives are and how they contribute to the overall objectives of their organizations.
This toolkit includes an article on the value of defining objectives, a worksheet on creating S.M.A.R.T. objectives and a learning tool for establishing appropriate objectives.
There are a variety of measures and tools available to help you understand the performance of your meetings compared to expected outcomes. These tools vary in price and complexity.
The majority of meeting professionals who measure event outcomes gauge delegate satisfaction through online survey services using a five-point scale. But many planners are dissatisfied with the lack of utility and relevance in the data they receive from these efforts. Determining which method of measurement is best suited for a specific outcome is very important to the reliability of results.
The right measurement will ensure understandable and accurate findings. The subject of measurement is scientific in nature, and meeting professionals may go through a period of trial and error to determine which measurement method is best for their particular needs.
This toolkit includes an article on measuring what matters, a business and meeting metrics checklist and a learning tool for calculating success.
ANALYSIS AND REPORTING
The analysis of data takes several forms, mainly visual, subjective and statistical.
Visual analysis is the most common form of analysis among meeting professionals—quantitative data, summarized with associated charts and graphs. This form of analysis is intuitive and accessible, making it the most popular form of data evaluation. Unfortunately, visual analysis can be misleading when used in isolation, because relationships between numeric values are generally assumed to be either significant or insignificant depending on whether they appear to be similar or dissimilar in size or shape. Note: The conclusion from visual analysis describes a symptom of a problem but does not offer a solution.
Subjective analysis involves looking at entire response groups, and both qualitative and quantitative data. Subjective analysis takes more time than visual analysis, and is therefore less popular. The advantage to this form of analysis is the added richness of reporting, resulting from implied or clearly stated cause and effect and revelations of unexpected results. The disadvantages: time and misinterpretation.
Statistical analysis is the least-favored form of analysis among meeting professionals overall, but the preferred method for meeting professionals who measure the business value of their meetings. It employs the use of various mathematical models and formulae on quantitative data to estimate relationships between data points, predict future values and describe response sets. Statistical analysis generally requires special software and the training to use it. It can be time consuming to set up, because data must be properly coded and formatted to ensure proper interpretation. Statistical analysis is a powerful means of understanding quantitative data, but usually involves the use of outside resources such as research companies or consultants.
This toolkit includes an article on analyzing and reporting data, a worksheet on reporting results and a webinar on developing effective measurement.
business value of meetings,
One+ June 2012,