Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

February 04 2013

Outsourcing Might Be the Answer for Meeting Planners

By David McMillin, Staff Writer

outsourcingFeeling overwhelmed with your duties as a meeting planner? You’re not alone. From early mornings to late nights to sorting through stuffed inboxes, taking care of all the details of your next big meeting requires, well, more than just you.

Tom Browning, executive producer, FedEx Corporation, knows the feeling all too well. Before he had outside help, Browning says he was a “doer”, and his main responsibility was checking off a list of gear needs for each of his events. However, as that one list of gear turned into many more lists of details to organize and tasks to finish before attendees arrived on-site, Browning began to worry.

“I knew I couldn’t do it all,” Browning says.

For help with a global IT meeting, Browning turned to Source Line, a corporate communications and meeting production company based north of Chicago, for help.

That first meeting was more than 10 years ago. Over the past decade, Browning has worked with Source Line to design and execute an average of 12 programs each year. Browning works to understand the business objectives of the various FedEx operating companies such as FedEx Ground and FedEx Freight and then turns to Source Line to help bring those objectives to life. Amanda Marijanovic, vice president, strategic and creative development, Source Line, says that the company handles everything from graphics to video production to stage sets and more at events that include press announcements, leadership meetings and investor conferences.

“Tom and I have built a partnership based on collaboration,” Marijanovic says.

Opening New Doors for Your Organization

Collaboration is key, but the two stress that it does not mean that outsourced help simply does as the client asks. Marijanovic and Browning both recognize the importance of challenging each other to think of new approaches to developing and producing experiences.

“My job is not to be a ‘yes’ person,” Marijanovic says. “My job is to be a consultant, and a consultant always needs to be pushing the envelope to think about the best solution. Sometimes, that means disagreeing.”

Browning agrees and highlights the value of the outside perspective, expertise and cross-industry best practices that Source Line brings to the table.

“Outsourcing doesn’t mean you just have someone to do something for you,” Browning says. “It means you have a strategic advisor to help determine the best way forward.”

Opening New Doors for Your Career

While hiring someone to help ease your workload may sound appealing, what about the worry that it will make you look less valuable to your organization?

“Outsourcing will not outsource you out of a job,” Browning says. “It simply makes you look even better in your boss’ eyes for knowing when and how to bring the right partners to the table.”

Outsourcing some of your immediate duties may lead to bigger results in the near future, but it may also hold the key to your own long-term advancement.

“That really started my strategic career,” Browning says of his decision to ask his boss for the money to hire a third party. “With fewer action items on my plate, I was able to take a seat at the table for senior-level conversations. I’ve been able to gain more face time with my management and in a much more strategic and consultative role, ultimately making me more valuable and less commoditized than if I were just a task master.”

This article includes insights from a session at Convening Leaders 2013. For more key takeaways from the meeting, click here

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