Procurement. Wow. Big scary word. Sounds French, oui? But be assured, for our purposes, we’ll deal only with the English-language version of the verb, which means to acquire goods, services or works from an external source. That paints a pretty broad picture, doesn’t it? And you might be asking how this relates to meetings management. Well, we’ll tell you.
As you’ve already discovered, there are many elements to managing meetings. Some require creativity and are fun, others can be tedious. For many, developing a procurement plan is the latter, but as experienced planners, let’s think of it as a necessary step in successfully executing an event. Here’s what you need to know about procurement:
- It involves lots of numbers and accurate timelines.
- It focuses on a budget for each item being procured, thus the need for numbers.
- It involves a lot of guessing about your numbers and timelines.
Meeting planners need to procure every element that goes into making an event tick. Depending on the situation and subsequent budget, this can mean items as relevant as the speakers you contract or as small as the company logo ink pens that go in each goody bag.
Anyone who’s hosted even a simple holiday party at home knows that you must have a basic budget for food and disposable plates, right? And while your party may not require a spreadsheet to track these special elements, it’s a different story when your boss tells you to plan an event for 150 people for X amount of money and to make sure everyone gets a copy of the presentations (notebooks or USB drives?), is served ample food and beverage (sit-down, buffet, box lunches? Beer and wine or rockin’ coffee and cocktails?), gets wowed by the room set and décor (AV, lighting, entertainment, furniture rental and chair covers?) and goes home with a memorable tchotchke.
Think of your procurement plan as one big Excel spreadsheet on which you list every possible thing that will need to be purchased and ordered for your event. If you set it up correctly, you’ll be able to track everything from start to finish.
To begin, just brainstorm and list every element the event will need to procure; assign a responsible person to each as well as a budget, order and shipping dates; quantity needed; and any other relevant details.
Now you might see why there’s a whole lot of guessing involved in this process. But if you strive to organize your procurement plan from the start, and actively use it as a reference that you constantly update, it can be a lifesaver in your organizational toolbox and ensure successful meeting management.
Remember, procurement is a verb, and that requires action on your part.
Next: MBEC 4.05 — Establish milestones and critical path.