Archive for September, 2010

Formula for SMART Growth for Technology-based Firms

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

In my experience, I have identified the following characteristics of businesses that have been successful in emerging from start-up phase into a sustained growth stage with efficient, managed growth. These fundamental characteristics of successful growth businesses include:

  • Strategy-based
  • Market-based
  • Alignment-based
  • ROI-based
  • Technology Innovation-based

Additional success attributes include a placing a priority on the following building blocks (not necessarily in this sequence):

  1. Emphasis on accountability
  2. Emphasis on action-orientation
  3. Emphasis on cash flow
  4. Emphasis on client acquisition
  5. Emphasis on client service
  6. Emphasis on empowerment
  7. Emphasis on leadership
  8. Emphasis on listening
  9. Emphasis on metrics
  10. Emphasis on perseverance
  11. Emphasis on prioritization
  12. Emphasis on quality
  13. Emphasis on relationships
  14. Emphasis on results
  15. Emphasis on root cause analysis

While formalities like organization structure, policies, and procedures are necessary to some degree for any successful business, it is imperative that there is not too much focus on certain aspects of growing a technology business that will ultimately impede growth. Based on my experience, I recommend that leaders implement:

  1. Just enough communication
  2. Just enough governance
  3. Just enough information
  4. Just enough infrastructure
  5. Just enough oversight
  6. Just enough planning
  7. Just enough process
  8. Just enough resources
  9. Just enough structure
  10. Just enough technology

Of course, any experienced business leader recognizes that maintaining a consistent focus on each of these elements is a daunting task. I will provide additional details and guidelines on each of these best practices in future blog posts. Please contact me with questions and to share best practices from your own personal experiences in growing successful businesses.

— By Jack Spain

Utilizing an IP Asset Management Database to Enhance Your Marketing Efforts – Part II

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Editor’s Note: This is the second and final post in a two-part series examining the best practices that we have captured from utilizing an IP Asset Management (IPAM) database system to support our IP marketing and commercialization initiatives.

As I noted in my previous post on this topic, our experience with an IPAM database system over the past decade has provided us with the following set of best practices:

1.    Establishing and following clear, concise, and consistent classification schemes;
2.    Incorporating full-featured search capabilities;
3.    Integrating workflow management capabilities;
4.    Including reporting tools for staff productivity and efficient project tracking;
5.    Investing in proper training and mentoring for your staff; and
6.    Adhering to your institution’s technology guidelines.

This posting will address the final three best practices in this area.

4.    Reporting and Project Management

Effective reporting capabilities assist your staff in increasing their personal productivity and should be a vital tool to assist your organization in achieving your specific goals and objectives. Well-designed reporting tools provide the ability to quickly and easily obtain status information on all aspects across your technology portfolio along with satisfying your management reporting requirements. Your reporting features should provide excellent visibility and transparency across your IPAM database solution to avoid a “black whole” scenario where you know the data is in there somewhere but you just cannot locate it no matter how hard you try.

A business analytics software tool can provide your organization with a strategic advantage when you use the tool to assist in identifying trends and mine additional opportunities for licensing and partnerships throughout your portfolio that is captured in your IPAM database. Powerful reporting tools should also provide you with the foundation for effective project management to ensure that you are maximizing your deal potential and minimizing the surprises that you have to react to.

5.    Staff Training and Mentoring

Implementing a world-class IPAM database solution without proper training and support for your team will only result in frustrated and dissatisfied staff, inaccurate or incomplete information in the database, and negative impact on your organization’s productivity. Effective training is planned and delivered at the right time, with the right amount, at the right level, and in the right place. High-tech web-based, multimedia tools can be very efficient and cost effective for training option for your staff and should be accompanied by a high-touch connection that includes mentoring from your senior staff members and system experts.

6.    Technology Guidelines

We encourage each organization to engage your information technology professionals in the planning and selection process to ensure compliance with your IT architecture, cyber security, technology, and product guidelines, standards, and procedures. Ideally, today your IPAM software solution should be web-based to facilitate access and should be supported by a standard commercial or open-source database along with development languages that are endorsed by your technology support organization. There are a number of installed (in-house) or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS or hosted) commercially available solutions today. If you are using or planning to use a commercial IPAM solution, you should request responses from your solution vendor to the following questions:

  • What is the support process and the depth and qualifications of your support organization?
  • What is the process to request enhancements and what is your track record for publishing new software releases?
  • Are you using a users’ group or steering committee that includes customers to prioritize new features?
  • Do you provide a forum with other IPAM system users to share best practices?

Successfully commercializing a vast and diverse portfolio of technologies is a fundamental and often daunting undertaking for all technology transfer offices. World-class organizations seek out and capitalize on best practices within their offices and across the industry. We firmly believe that properly utilizing your IPAM database solution – while having the discipline to adhere to your processes and procedures – will have a positive impact on the overall success of your organization’s technology commercialization initiatives.

—By Jack Spain

Utilizing an IP Asset Management Database to Enhance Your Marketing Efforts – Part I

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Editor’s Note: This is the first post in a two-part series examining the best practices that we have captured from utilizing an IP Asset Management (IPAM) database system to support our IP marketing and commercialization initiatives.

During our many years of hands-on experience in generating scores of licenses and successful partnership agreements for clients since 2001, Fuentek has relied on an intellectual property asset management (IPAM) database to support our core marketing process. We have found that this database, along with a collection of other best practices for marketing IP, has played a key role in our success in the commercialization of innovations across a diverse array of technology categories for universities, federal government labs, and commercial companies.

Maintaining an effective IP management database system positions your tech transfer organization to proactively monitor and manage your marketing initiatives and thereby get maximum value from your IP portfolio. A well-designed and successfully implemented IPAM database system facilitates communication, fosters collaboration, and is an invaluable tool to ensure consistent adherence to your licensing process.

Each of the commercial and proprietary IPAM database solutions currently available have their inherent advantages and disadvantages. However, we have found that the crucial factor to achieving maximum value from whatever database system you choose is discipline. The value ultimately delivered from your IPAM database solution depends upon the entire organization diligently adhering to approved procedures and entering your IP-related data into your database in a consistent fashion.

Our experience with an IPAM database system over the past decade has provided us with the following set of best practices:

1.    Establishing and following clear, concise, and consistent classification schemes;
2.    Incorporating full-featured search capabilities;
3.    Integrating workflow management capabilities;
4.    Including reporting tools for staff productivity and efficient project tracking;
5.    Investing in proper training and mentoring for your staff; and
6.    Adhering to your institution’s technology guidelines.

This posting will outline the first three best practices in this area.

1.    Classification Schemes

We have found that it is very beneficial to establish—and have the discipline to maintain—standard attributes for each of the technologies within your IP portfolio. These standard taxonomies for categorizing and organizing your technologies are a key prerequisite for incorporating an effective search capability within your IPAM database solution. Our experience has proven that investing time up-front to appropriately classify your technology assets is a prudent investment. Ensuring easy access to all the elements within your technology portfolio enables your team to become more efficient while positioning your technology managers for more effective decision-making by fully capitalizing on your institutional knowledge captured in your database.

2.    Comprehensive Search

Another critical feature within an IPAM database solution is a robust search engine that provides your staff with reliable result set with elements throughout your entire database, including all database fields and documents. Well-designed comprehensive search capabilities position your staff to mine information from your database and capitalize on lessons learned from your team’s earlier actions and decisions regarding similar technologies. Of course, the overall effectiveness of your search engine is directly related to the diligence and consistency of the attributes that you use to describe and categorize your technologies (i.e. IPAM best practice #1).

3.    Integrated Workflow Management

Additional benefits can be obtained by integrating at least a rudimentary level of workflow management within your IPAM database system to provide the foundation for efficient collaboration and communications across your organization. Your workflow solution should factor in how you can most efficiently manage the data and documents to support your technology transfer initiatives. Successful workflow solutions promote staff accountability, efficiency, and timely results.

In my next blog posting, I will elaborate on the next three best practices for using an IPAM database to support your IP marketing efforts. Has your organization attempted to capture and institutional best practices in managing your IPAM database?

—By Jack Spain