"Creating an Executive Summary"

by Jennifer W. Brown CMP, SMMC
as seen in PCMA Convene Magazine, May 2011

You’ve completed an analysis of your organization’s meeting activity, spend, and processes. You grasp why implementing a Strategic Meetings Management Program is critical. Next, you need to prepare an executive summary to get the green light from senior management. It was a hotel invoice — a $110,000 cancellation fee for a contract signed by an administrative assistant — that helped Terri Crovato, CMP, convince the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) board of directors to adopt a Strategic Meetings Management Program (SMMP).

“The truth is,” said Crovato, USCCB’s meetings and events manager, “there were too many inexperienced people planning meetings, making poor decisions, and signing contracts without understanding the consequences.” The cancellation fee was “a huge hit” for her organization, she said, and while it was proof of the need for change, it wasn’t the only argument she gave to the board. Crovato had put together 10 compelling reasons why the organization needed to implement an SMMP to drive immediate increased team productivity, improved meeting quality and content, cost savings, risk reduction, and value to all stakeholders.

Like Crovato, you will need to prepare your own “Why SMMP” list — a one-page, high-impact executive summary of your meetings management analysis — to present to management. Start off your summary by identifying who you are and your role in meetings management, the scope of your analysis (enterprise- wide, division, and/or department), and your goals, objectives, and vision for SMMP.

In a nutshell, you are exposing gaps in the current meetings-management process and presenting business solutions that drive value and ROI. You must be prepared to defend your reasons, so along with the one-page executive summary, attach a one-or two-page financial report. The data should support the cost savings, risk mitigation, and value-based outcomes to meeting stakeholders.

Be realistic about the cost savings, benefits, timelines, projections, and outcomes. Work with key stakeholders to ensure the integrity of the information you provide, and know who you can count on for support and guidance throughout the process. As for Crovato, it has been nearly a year since her SMMP was implemented, and she and management are very happy with the results.

“We’ve been able to demonstrate real meeting value in several categories and are looking at a 14- to16-percent savings during year one,” she said. “Our board is keenly aware of our many SMMP benefits, including streamlined processes, departmental collaboration, risk mitigation via custom hotel contracts, and improved meeting outcomes — all validated with timely financial and management reports.”

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