Why Meetings Management is Crucial to Life Sciences Organizations
For the pharmaceutical industry, a disciplined approach to managing enterprise-wide meeting and event related processes is a necessity. Due to regulations such as the Sunshine Act in the U.S., state level regulations, and similar regulations in many countries, planning on a global scale for pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industry can be challenging for meeting professionals.
Regulations are always, somewhat dynamic, but as markets continue further expand and globalize, it is critical to remain knowledgeable, vigilant, and able to adjust policies and practices to meet the regulatory standards. The need to properly measure activities, metrics, standards and supplier strategies to achieve business objectives, quantitative cost savings, risk mitigation, governmental and regulatory oversight, attendee experience and optimal service levels have become increasingly vital.
In this article, we discuss how implementing a meetings management program can help life sciences companies efficiently and effectively manage their key goals.
Common Goals Across the Pharmaceutical Industry
• Centralize all meetings data
• Access spend and savings information across the enterprise
• Provide your planning community with necessary information
• Enable visibility into expenditures by HCP
• Ensure adherence to internal legal, regulatory, financial, operational and other corporate rules
• Abide by federal and industry-wide regulations
• Ownership of data output and reporting requirements
• Drive consistency in partnership utilization, and service delivery
• Visibility into the attendee journey at the meeting
• Address competitiveness of the marketplace around HCP engagement to get HCPs to attend
your events over others
• Focus on attendee experience to deliver flawlessly and attract/repeat HCP attendance
Developing a Path to Compliance, Visibility & Strategic Engagement
Step 1: Assess the current landscape
Assessing your current organizational processes is an essential step in your evolution toward an SMM program that will offer you much-needed visibility and compliance. Your internal ecosystem is the best place to start. What are you doing today? Partner with internal stakeholders for data and information you typically do not have access to or that may be difficult to locate. Externally, measure how your internal structure fits with your suppliers on the domestic and global fronts. Address the risks as well as the rewards in adopting an SMM program. Finally, increasing visibility and compliance organization-wide cannot be achieved overnight. Prioritize. Find the most critical areas to address first such as policy, your global technology platform, consolidation of suppliers and global expansion.
For a step-by-step understanding of SMM, read Strategic Meetings Management for Dummies.
Step 2: Engage key stakeholders
Carefully outline why SMM is critical to your organizational success including the risks involved with implementing one as well as the risk of doing nothing at all and continuing with the status quo. When the “pitch” is initiated, it’s important to get the right people at the table and offer the data that will resonate with them. Articulating both sides of the issue will strengthen your position and be a clear indication that you’ve performed the proper research. What will be the positive impact of such a move? What are the costs, benefits and ROI? Be prepared to understand and address each stakeholder’s interests and prepare to answer the inevitable “what’s in it for me” query. Once your executive team is on-board, they will help drive buy-in to the other tiers of stakeholders.
Step 3: Build your business case
Implementing a strategic meetings management (SMM) program supported by an all in one end-to-end platform helps your business increase visibility, reduce costs and drive compliance, while improving engagement and the overall attendee experience. It also greatly aids those delivering meeting and event services, saving valuable time and allowing for more time to focus on a forward-thinking approaches to event planning. Given that Strategic Meetings Management has evolved into a widely accepted and best practice, particularly in the life sciences vertical, using established data and metrics supporting this approach will add value to your internal dialogue.
If your organization is considering a formal strategic meetings management policy, or looking to evolve a current program, there are important steps to consider before moving forward.
Step 4: Think about global implications
International pharmaceutical companies require an SMM program robust enough for use across an entire worldwide organization. One that simplifies major meeting processes including meeting planning, budgeting, sourcing and attendee management–and captures the data necessary for detailed analytics on meeting activities and spend across the global
enterprise. But, that’s just the beginning.
The challenges involved with launching a global SMM program are typically a key inhibitor for organizations, even though the need for one is critical. While an SMM program is essential, the regulatory complexities of such an undertaking can be daunting. Expansion in global markets means dealing with fragmented regulations, country-by-country.