Thursday, November 11, 2010

IP and Corporate Strategy Alignment - The Anaqua IAM3 Model Continued

Recently we talked about how Anaqua’s Intellectual Asset Management Maturity Model (IAM3) can help IP teams think about their goals and priorities before evaluating new IP infrastructure. Let’s dig a little deeper into some of the factors the model discusses in this and future blog posts. We’ll start with the large topic of IP alignment with corporate strategy.

This is one of the key metrics in the Anaqua IAM3 model – how corporate and IP strategies are developed, implemented and measured. What is the level of dialog between the IP team and business managers? How can this be improved? The model identifies four stages of maturity:

Level 1 Basic: At best, IP Strategy is based on vague business goals of more patents or more trademark protection. Or worse, IP strategy is not contemplated in business planning.
  • At this level, IP teams are struggling to get the business to even consider IP issues when they develop business strategies for new products and markets. IP team goals are volume based and not tied to business goals and impact.
Level 2 Progressive: Legal professionals make their best effort to implement strategies to support the perceived corporate strategy in a unilateral process. Little executive visibility into IP.
  • The IP team does its best to set priorities based on its understanding of company business goals but gets little support or recognition for this. The team’s IP software tools do not allow them to easily provide management reports relevant to business priorities.
Level 3 Advanced: Business and Legal professionals periodically review and discuss strategy bilaterally. The IP strategy is designed to support the corporate strategy.
  • Business managers work with the IP team to integrate IP issues into business planning. Corporate processes such as new product development incorporate IP, but this is still a work in progress. The IP system can track and measure activity and budgets by business category to support an IP strategy dialog with business managers.
Level 4 Superior: Business and Legal professionals at the highest level actively incorporate IP protection strategy into corporate strategy. The strategy is rigorously implemented and well understood by business and legal professionals, and supported at all levels.
  • IP awareness is strong from the boardroom down through the research, engineering, marketing and other business functions. IP assets are recognized as critical to the company’s market competitive advantage. The IP team has high visibility and is challenged to meet aggressive company goals.
Making progress from level to level requires a focus on people, process and infrastructure, with IP leadership and executive support. Can you share experiences and advice from your company’s journey to IAM alignment?

We’ll address additional IAM maturity challenges in future blog postings.

 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Anaqua Intellectual Asset Management Maturity Model

We frequently get calls from someone in an IP team saying they need a new IP system. The frustrations with their existing systems have built up over the years and it is finally time to make a change. They want to see what other solutions are out there and start some kind of evaluation process. They often have a list of features they want to see and a clear idea of the limitations they don’t want to live with any more.
OK – that’s a start but at Anaqua we always try to step back and talk about business goals and priorities to set a context for the product evaluation: what is it the IP team is trying to achieve and what impact will this have on the business and the IP operation? How will you measure that impact? What will success look like? What is most important in phase 1 and what are the nice-to-have goals that can be delayed for later phases?

A new IP system is a significant change in itself but moving to a new IAM system by definition calls for a re-assessment of IP processes across the organization. This has to involve the senior leadership of the IP team and if he or she is not involved in setting these goals and priorities, a project can fail to win approval or funding.

So how can we help clients with this process? One option is to engage us or other IP consultants to perform a benchmark analysis and requirements assessment, but this can be overkill for many clients. As an alternative, we developed a tool to help the IP team understand where they are today and where they want to be with their new IAM system. We call it the Anaqua Intellectual Asset Management Maturity Model (IAM3).

Anaqua’s Intellectual Asset Management Maturity Model (The IAM3 model) is a framework for assessing your company’s position on its path to implementing IAM best practices. It helps you identify your current position so that you can prioritize key focus areas for improvement. It is designed to encourage a dialog within the IP team and with colleagues in other parts of the business about the strengths and weaknesses of your current processes and the opportunities for change.

The model does this by identifying ten separate areas of IP management for trademarks, domains, inventions and patents. It describes four levels of IAM maturity from Basic through Progressive to Advanced and finally Superior.

The model goes beyond the core functions of legal IP management to include enterprise-wide stakeholders in the process: inventors, R&D managers, marketing, business executives and senior management. Each of the four levels describes not just current practices but also the mindset of the participants with regard to intellectual assets and the level of visibility into the portfolio.

It covers various IP processes and operations as well as key strategic issues such as alignment of the portfolio with the company’s business strategies, and the company’s knowledge of competitive and complementary IP in the marketplace.

Some of the focus areas will not be relevant for your organization. In some of them you may be in good shape, in others not so much. The important thing is to get consensus on where change is most needed and set your priorities accordingly. Now you are much better positioned to review alternative solutions based on your needs.

Where is your organization on the Intellectual Asset Management Maturity Model? You can request a copy here.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Collaboration in Intellectual Property Management

This month we will be presenting a webinar on the collaboration capabilities of ANAQUA. Collaboration was a core design principle of the Anaqua solution from the very beginning, and today our clients collectively use ANAQUA as their platform to work among their hundreds and thousands of coworkers, outside law firms, agents and other professional service providers. Enhancements to Anaqua’s collaboration tools are a part of every new release. Collaboration, however, is about more than slick new technology.

In the business world, collaboration has emerged as a critical principle in management best practices. The practice of law, and in particularly work between in-house and outside counsel, is ripe for improved collaboration. Collaboration is also highly valuable for multi-office and geographically diverse law departments where legal professionals across the world must work together. Today, these new collaboration-centric work paradigms are well supported by both improved management approaches and new information technology tools that allow for better sharing of information and work product.

Collaboration, however, can present challenges in its reduction to practice. While exchanging documents - perhaps through email - is a form of basic collaboration, today's complex business environments require more sophisticated approaches. We find with our clients that defining, building and nurturing a collaborative organization involves a number of important, interrelated components.

First, and often most importantly, the foundation of collaboration starts with culture. Both social culture and a company's work culture are factors that must be given close consideration. While culture is not easily engineered, organizations benefit from understanding and embracing their unique cultural dynamics, and identifying how collaboration can fit their organization’s personality.

Another critical component of successful collaboration is a good understanding of the organization's business processes, and where collaboration can add value. The process should define the structure and workflows, and identify specific points where collaboration can positively impact the work. Documenting processes and opportunities for collaboration, along with the related policies, procedures and other written materials, allows stakeholders to understand the new collaborative environment. The principles of more open collaboration can often test historical mindsets that view work processes as more closed or insulated. Changes to these views must be handled with care and openly negotiated and accommodated in adopting collaboration-oriented ways of doing business. Importantly, training and other "how to" resources help establish, maintain and lock in the value of collaboration.

Finally, technology is often considered a cornerstone in bringing collaboration capabilities to the business. Technology provides the practical tools used by collaborators to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their work. The receptivity to new collaboration tools has vastly improved as users are increasingly comfortable and confident in Web 2.0 and social networking technologies which are now moving to the workplace. Technology, however, in itself is not a solution. Organizations should be careful to ensure that tools match both their culture and business processes. Capabilities such as web-based access, paperless records, electronic sharing of workfiles and projects, and task and workflow automation, are important collaboration tools. Also important is the ability to setup security with the flexibility to control users' access to information and functions. This control manages the potential risk, and overcomes objections, that can be associated with more open, collaborative work environments. A technology solution should be considered a platform to support improved collaboration.

Have you moved to a more collaborative work environment recently? I’d love to hear your experiences and advice.