Archive for the ‘Operational Excellence’ 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

IP Marketing Iterative Process: Getting the Deal

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

In recent posts on Marketing Intellectual Property, I have conveyed the merits of implementing an iterative marketing process; validating your decision to invest your resources in commercializing a technology; developing your marketing plan; executing your plan; and proactively scheduling checkpoints to regularly validate your plan. The final and most critical step is to ensure that you are attentive to the remaining tasks to position you to successfully execute a licensing agreement.

There are several key points to consider throughout this stage of the process.

  1. Understand the perspective of your licensee. You must ask the right questions and invest time to ensure that you understand what is included in the agreement for the licensee to position this deal for a successful win-win-win outcome (institution, inventors, and licensee). Will your technology provide the licensee with a strategic competitive advantage? It your technology synergistic or complementary to their existing commercial offerings, or does it provide the licensee with new market opportunities. Is the licensee anticipating that they will be granted exclusivity to your patents, or are they specifically looking for field of use or geographic rights? The answers to these questions provide the framework for a mutually-beneficial licensing agreement.
  2. Communicate the licensing process. It is imperative to clearly define, document, and communicate your licensing process for prospective licensees to improve the cycle time and the productivity for negotiating agreements. Publishing your expectations, licensing steps, application and agreement templates, and key contact information on your tech transfer website benefit all parties.
  3. Manage the licensing process. Proactively managing expectations regarding the time investment, key milestones in the licensing and approval process, along with financial commitment expectations will result in fewer surprises, debates, and disputes throughout the negotiation process. This is important for all internal and external stakeholders involved to avoid unnecessary delays. For many technologies, time-to-market is critical and delays in the licensing process can result in deals that do not get executed due to lost market opportunities from other emerging innovations. It is also important to continue to stay focused and not get distracted by other initiatives competing for your attention this close to the “finish line” of getting the deal.


Signing a licensing agreement is a very satisfying and rewarding experience and is often the culmination of a tremendous amount of hard work and planning over many months. Enjoy the moment and leverage your recent experiences as lessons learned for your next licensing deal. Remember that if your prospective licensee is not requesting exclusive access to your patents, you should also continue to support your marketing campaign in parallel with managing current deal opportunities.

—By Jack Spain

Virtual Workforce Best Practices and Lessons Learned

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Laura Schoppe and I have posted several blog entries recently on the virtues of a virtual organization model, including posts on our recent NPR interview, Flex Options in the Workplace, and the benefits of a virtual team. Laura also wrote an article for Mobility Enterprise Magazine. The Fuentek virtual business model is the foundation of how we deliver consistent, high-quality, high-value services to our global clients. During the past nine years, we have recognized several key best practices and lessons learned.


Best Practices for Leaders:


1.         Establish, maintain, and communicate clear and concise expectations and accountabilities for all staff members.

2.         Maintain a focus on results, not where and when staff members are working.

3.         Develop and maintain just enough process definition along with effective training and mentoring programs for staff members.

4.         Institute an effective screening, recruiting and hiring process for prospective job candidates.

5.         Communicate proactively and on a regular basis.

6.         Invest in web-based database, collaboration and communications tools.


Best Practices for Staff Members:


1.         Have the ability and desire to work independently without the abundance of social interactions available in traditional organizations.

2.         Be self-motivated and not dependent on continual guidance, communications, and reinforcement from a supervisor.

3.         Be dependable and dedicated, and consistently deliver high-quality services on time and within budget.

4.         Establish a fully functioning home office that includes business class technology, high-speed Internet, dedicated telephone and the ability to be isolated from household distractions.

5.         Focus on maintaining strong time management skills, and clearly compartmentalizing professional and personal responsibilities.


Lessons Learned:


1.         Managing a virtual team requires increased flexibility from both staff and leaders.

2.         The virtual organization model is more appropriate with seasoned, mature and experienced staff members.

3.         Effective and highly motivated staff members typically have a strong desire for independence and a flexible work schedule.

4.         Satisfaction for both staff and leaders requires effective and continuous feedback loops to avoid surprises.

5.         Leaders must invest in funding cost-effective face-to-face interactions periodically to strengthen communication, collaboration and build trust across the entire team.


Managing a virtual organization requires less time investment day-to-day from a leadership perspective, but it does require greater focus and intensity on how you effective manage your staff.


What have been your professional telecommuting and virtual workforce experiences?


—By Jack Spain

Operational Excellence for Tech Transfer Offices

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Maintaining a continual focus on planning, prioritization, and execution of projects and tasks for your Technology Transfer Office is complex and requires effective integration of numerous interrelated operational processes to ensure that the allocation and engagement of your staff is optimized for your organization. In fact, as a leader and manager for your team, it is difficult to argue that this dimension is not your most critical responsibility. I offer the following leadership guidance to position your organization for consistent and optimal performance across your entire team.  

1. Translate strategy into action plans. Leaders translate the vision, strategy, goals, and objectives into specific actions plans for each staff member to ensure the overall success of the organization.  

2.  Confront reality. Effective leaders are well grounded with a solid grasp of the real challenges and issues that your organization is facing and provide the requisite guidance to deal with adversity and opportunities directly while looking at each challenge and experience as a learning opportunity.  

3. Set high expectations to fully leverage available resources throughout the organization. Leaders establish challenging, but realistic and attainable goals for each member within their organization that are synergistic with the overall goals and objectives of the enterprise.  

4. Inspire the team to succeed. Leaders have an obligation and responsibility to motivate and inspire their subordinates to exceed the goals and expectations for their organization.  

5. Delivering results with integrity. We have been continuously reminded during this past decade of the consequences that result from leaders who do not set an exemplary example of leading and delivering results with integrity. Leaders have an awesome responsibility to set and maintain an example in each and every action she or he takes.  

—By Jack Spain

November 4th, 2009

The IT Leadership Pyramid

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

After several years of conducting research and developing content on a part-time basis, I recently published the book, “The IT Leadership Pyramid – Essential Leadership Imperatives for Leaders of Information Technology Organizations in the 21st Century” based on my experiences working within and supporting Information Technology organizations over the past three decades.  Copies of this books is available at

— Jack Spain

January 25th, 2009