Archive for the ‘IP Management’ Category

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

Applying the 4 P’s to get to “The Science of the Deal”: Tips on Platform

Monday, August 30th, 2010

As I noted in a previous post, STS’s proven Deal-making 4 P’s can position your Technology Transfer Office (TTO) to more consistently and predictably execute licensing agreements for your institution. The Deal-making 4 P’s are:  

1. Planning

2. People

3. Process

4. Platform  

Let’s take a closer look at Platform. Your TTO can greatly improve efficiency and effectiveness by leveraging modern, low-cost, readily available technology solutions such as IP asset management database applications, calendaring and scheduling, instant messaging, websites, e-mail marketing, Web conferencing, blogs, wikis, microblogging, and other social media tools. It is important that the tools you deploy are intuitive and not overly complex, helping rather than hindering your staff in performing their jobs effectively. Your platform of technology solutions should also be as synergistic as possible to maximize the productivity of your TTO associates.   

Regularly evaluate the return on investment (ROI) your organization is receiving from your technology solutions. Solutions should be evaluated in terms of the delivery of positive results (based on both objective and subjective criteria), as well as an examination of whether they are streamlining or impeding your key processes. Several questions to contemplate in this area include:  

  • Has your office invested in technology solutions that support and encourage communication, collaboration, and teamwork throughout your office and across your institution?
  • Do your tools facilitate workflow and project management? Do you know where each project currently stands and how much time has been invested in it?
  • Do you have easy and intuitive access to your key databases, or have they become a “black hole” for your critical information? Can you retrieve the patent or marketing status in real time?

How does your organization go about rating the overall effectiveness of your chosen technology solutions?  

—By Jack Spain

Applying the 4 P’s to get to “The Science of the Deal”: Tips on Process

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

As I noted in a previous post, STS’s proven Deal-making 4 P’s can position your Technology Transfer Office (TTO) to more consistently and predictably execute licensing agreements for your institution. The Deal-making 4 P’s are:  

1. Planning

2. People

3. Process

4. Platform  

Let’s look at Process in more detail. STS proposes institutionalizing “just enough” process discipline throughout your TTO to improve your agility and efficiency, and to deliver consistent high-quality services within stated time and resource constraints. Process institutionalization requires a focused and conscious effort to define, document, communicate, and train your staff on key processes within your organization, such as a specific set of criteria that must be met for a start-up to license a technology or the license application forms used for all negotiations. Like the majority of management and leadership responsibilities, the concepts are rather straightforward but can be challenging to execute successfully. 

While it is critical to design a well-conceived process, it is even more important to institutionalize the process to deliver actual results (i.e., licensing deals). Several questions to contemplate in this area include:  

  • Have you developed standard templates to support your evaluation, assessment, marketing, and licensing processes?
  • Do you provide all potential licensees with the consistent instructions, application forms, and base license agreement templates (with no specific business terms) when they request a license?
  • Have you cultivated an internal culture that promotes feedback and continuous process improvement?
  • Do you proactively consider the organizational impact that various changes may have across your operation?

What procedures have worked for your organization to define, develop, implement, and institutionalize processes that improve the overall effectiveness of your organization? Leave a comment below, and check back next week for the last installment in this series. 

—By Jack Spain

Applying the 4 P’s to get to “The Science of the Deal”: Tips on People

Monday, August 16th, 2010

As I noted in a previous post, STS’s proven Deal-making 4 P’s can position your Technology Transfer Office (TTO) to more consistently and predictably execute licensing agreements for your institution. The Deal-making 4 P’s are:  

1. Planning

2. People

3. Process

4. Platform   

As outlined in the first post of this series, managing the people in your organization is critically important and may often be your most challenging responsibility. It requires a considerable effort to attract, recruit, and retain experienced and qualified professionals for all positions across your organization. Additional processes that are essential to building and maintaining an effective and efficient team include your on-boarding process, establishing mentors for new staff members, and developing the right sourcing strategy for personnel to support your mission.

Each of these elements is critical to building an efficient and effective organization. For instance, you will not succeed just by hiring well-seasoned entrepreneurs if you don’t have a program in place to mentor them on the technology transfer goals and procedures specific to your organization. Several questions to contemplate in this area include:  

  • What key competencies are you missing today (from technical knowledge to negotiating skills) and what will you need in 6 to 12 months as your R&D organization grows or changes?
  • How will you recruit associates with the appropriate skills and experience level, and what portion do you need fulltime versus on an as-needed basis?
  • What personnel investments are you making to develop key organizational relationships across your institution? Are these relationships strong or do you need a different personality as your liaison?
  • What investments are you making to improve your team’s ongoing capabilities and competencies in order to impact your goals?

How does your organization work on attracting, recruiting, and retaining key professionals to build a world-class TTO? Leave a comment below, and check back next week for the next installment in this series.   

—By Jack Spain

Applying the 4 P’s to get to “The Science of the Deal”: Tips on Planning

Monday, August 9th, 2010

As I noted in my previous post, STS’s proven Deal-making 4 P’s can position your Technology Transfer Office (TTO) to more consistently and predictably execute licensing agreements for your institution. The Deal-making 4 P’s are:  

1. Planning

2. People

3. Process

4. Platform 

Let’s look at Planning in more detail. Planning requires a conscious commitment to reserve and invest the time to review the projects, trends, and key metrics for your office. This is certainly easier said than done, but is essential to providing effective leadership for your TTO. Several questions to contemplate in this area include:  

  • How do you keep your staff focused and not distracted by lower priority tasks and initiatives that prevent your organization from achieving stated goals (i.e., licensing deals)?

  • For the technologies you are actively marketing at this time, how many resources (time and funding) have you already expended and expect to spend before a deal is signed? Is the expected revenue stream from the deal greater than the cost?
  • Do your operational metrics reflect progress toward achieving your institutional and TTO goals, or are you just capturing and reporting on readily available metrics?

If you find that you are spending a disproportionate amount of time on activities that are not directly impacting your goals, you should consider re-evaluating the current set of goals to ensure they are appropriate for your organization, or re-distribute priorities and responsibilities to make sure those who should be driving your goals have the time and resources to do their jobs. Planning who should do what and for which projects is most important and will help your office focus its resources appropriately and achieve your goals more effectively.  How is your organization implementing effective and proactive plans? Chime in with a comment below. 

—By Jack Spain

Applying the 4 P’s to get to “The Science of the Deal”

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a five-part series examining STS’s Deal-making 4 P’s. This overview will be followed by posts that focus on each “P” within this approach. 

STS’s proven methodology of applying the Deal-making 4 P’s can help position your Technology Transfer Office (TTO) to more consistently and predictably execute licensing and partnership agreements for your institution. The 4 P’s can take your organization’s deal making from an art to a science, improving your overall success rate of transforming technology disclosures into deals. The Deal-making 4 P’s are:

1. Planning. Effective planning includes establishing a strategy with supporting goals and plans that deliver the greatest return on investment (ROI) from limited resources. It is imperative to implement practices that position your organization to focus on delivering results in line with your institution’s goals.  

2. People. While it may be obvious that your goals should include attracting, recruiting, and retaining qualified professionals for positions within your TTO, the challenge of doing so can often be considerable. Additional key tactical and strategic details and procedures demand your attention, including your on-boarding process, establishing mentors for new staff members, and developing the right sourcing strategy for personnel to support your mission.

3. Process. Institutionalizing “just enough” process discipline (the extent to which you define and follow specific steps for activities) across your TTO will enable your office to be agile and efficient, positioning your organization to deliver consistent high quality services within stated time and resource constraints. Process institutionalization requires a conscious effort to define, document, communicate, and train your staff on key activities within your organization, such as evaluating commercialization potential and required documentation from prospective licensees before an agreement is signed.

4. Platform. Your TTO can achieve tremendous efficiency and effectiveness by taking advantage of modern, low-cost, widely available technology solutions. These tools include IP asset management database applications (from online invention disclosure submission to docket tracking to recording licenses), calendaring and scheduling, instant messaging, websites, e-mail marketing, Web conferencing, blogs, wikis, microblogging and other social media tools. It is important that the tools you deploy are intuitive and not overly complex and that they help rather than hinder your key professionals in performing their jobs effectively.    What steps does your organization take to improve the effectiveness of converting disclosures into licensing and partnership deals? Chime in with a comment below, and be sure to check back over the next few weeks to learn more about how STS implements the 4 P’s.   

—By Jack Spain

Effective Communications with External Stakeholders

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Establishing effective communications with potential licensees or prospective partners external to your institution or enterprise is a daunting task. Successfully getting someone’s attention, developing the business case for a constructive dialog, and establishing the proper protocol for effective interactions can be quite complex and time-consuming. My tips for effective communications with external associates include the following techniques.

 

1.     Empathy. It is worth the investment of your time to conduct background research on your prospective partner’s business including market strategy, financial condition, and recent news and events to increase your chances of conducting successful meetings and negotiation sessions. To the extent possible, seek multi-dimensional win-win-win agreements for strategic self-sustaining partnerships.

 

2.    Value Proposition. It is often wise to assume that your target contacts are overworked and paralyzed from information and assignment overload. It will work to your advantage to develop a succinct “elevator speech” on the value and benefits that your institution brings to the relationship. Be prepared to utilize multiple communication approaches that best fit the most appropriate communication style for your target audience.

 

3.    Communication. Attempt to speak in the language of your partner, being sensitive to the use of acronyms and the vernacular of your office, industry, or institution. Effective listing skills are quite often the most powerful proficiency that you can utilize for effective communications to establish new professional relationships.

 

4.    Investment. Results are typically commensurate with investments of time and resources. If you are negotiating or facilitating a big deal, prioritize, plan, and invest your time proportionately. Successful outcomes result from clearly defined deliverables, roles, and responsibilities while proactively managing expectations throughout the process.

 

5.     Metrics. It is important invest time to clearly define the appropriate criteria for success. Ideally, the criteria should be objective, rational, and relatively easy to measure. Once defined and agreed upon, monitor, track, and proactively communicate the results to key stakeholders.

 

Effective personal and professional relationships are a function of trust through consistent communications with integrity. Effective communications is the foundation to executing deals and developing new productive external relationships for your institution.

—By Jack Spain

Effective Communications with Internal Stakeholders

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Maintaining effective communications with key stakeholders within your institution or enterprise (i.e. inventors, attorneys, administrators, financial, or public relations personnel, etc.) sounds easy, but quite often is considerably more challenging and resource intensive than we expect. Many of us are working with colleagues who have too many demands placed on them with too few resources and too little time. My tips for effective communications include following techniques.

 

1.     Empathy. View your role as a “service provider” and think of your internal colleagues and associates as “customers” and “suppliers”. With this perspective, it is important to invest time to understand your customer’s goals, objectives, issues, and challenges which can be accomplished by exercising effective listing skills during your interactions.

 

2.    Communication. It is almost impossible to over-communicate today with the amount of information transmitted continuously across your organization. Be proactive in your communications and attempt to speak in the language of your customer (i.e. beware of acronyms and internal office or industry vernacular). During your interactions pay close attention that your colleagues are actually listening to you and acknowledging your dialog. Far too often our colleagues may be paralyzed from information and assignment overload.

 

3.    Understanding. Invest adequate time to ensure that you fully understand the needs and expectations from your customers. Identify the specific criteria for success for both parties and seek multi-dimensional win-win-win agreements. Always keep in mind that last minute changes are considerably more expensive than getting it right the first time or making the necessary course corrections early in the process.

 

4.    Commitment. Prioritize your projects and your time on a continuous basis. Remain attentive to key milestones and events and keep in mind that “no” is an acceptable answer if your current priorities do not permit you change direction or commit to additional actions (of course, most things are negotiable). Bottom line is that results are generally commensurate with investments in both time and resources.

 

5.     Relationships. It is quite advantageous to build relationships proactively. Your network of professional contacts can often be leveraged to your advantage to connect with key influencers and decision-makers across your institution. It is also important to remember that initial impressions are very difficult to change so initiating any new relationships in a positive manner will often set you off on a trajectory for success.

 

Effective personal and professional relationships are a function of trust through consistent communications with integrity. Effective communicators are often associated with delivering positive results. Maintaining this type of reputation will position you and your organization for successful working relationships across your institution.

 

—By Jack Spain

Tips to Becoming an Effective TTO Change Agent

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Managing change within any organization today is increasingly more challenging each year. Stakeholder expectations are increasing; cycle time expectations are collapsing for all institutional processes and transactions; geographic boundaries are collapsing as a result of globalization; institutional organizational strategies are increasingly dynamic; every element of an enterprise is becoming more complex; competition is becoming more intense each quarter in every commercial sector; and our physical world is transforming into a virtual digital workplace with more extensive connectivity.

 

Effective change leadership is one of the most challenging and rewarding opportunities for leaders. How do Tech Transfer Office (TTO) directors effectively lead their organization through changes in the institution’s leadership; reorganizations; institutional economic challenges; or legal disputes? How can you become a champion and lead your organization in the pursuit of objectives to align with a new set of imperatives from your institution or immediate management?

 

I recommend five critical imperatives to position a TTO director as an effective change leader:

 

1.         Maintain a firm grasp of the current realities, challenges, and opportunities throughout the organization with proactive feedback loops and effective organizational controls.

 

2.         Ensure that the appropriate energy, priority, and focus are maintained on the change initiative until the desired results have been accomplished.

 

3.         Assemble the right skills and talent on the change team to ensure that your team will meet its overall goals.

 

4.         Set high expectations for and continuously strive to over-communicate.

 

5.         Establish the foundation to prepare your team to succeed with effective execution of your plan.

 

One of your most essential responsibilities as a leader is to maintain the appropriate focus on your change initiatives to ensure that your team is successful in achieving your goals. It is so easy and all too tempting to become distracted by the next issue to hit your desk, but effective leaders persevere to institutionalize the desired change.

 

Please share your lessons learned, challenges, and victories from guiding a change initiative within your institution.

 

—By Jack Spain