Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Deciding on New IP Infrastructure – Harder than it Looks

As the level of frustration rises to a tipping point, the IP team cries out that it’s time to replace the old docketing system. Outside the IP team, there are unresolved concerns about IP in the business: lack of visibility into IP activity, questions about rising costs, challenges tying IP to the business. But if IP leadership accepts and even embraces the call for change, what then should be done?

This is even harder than it looks, so here’s a checklist to consider about your new IAM project:
  1. This is a strategic decision. Corporate IP teams change their core software every 6-10 years on average (law firm systems last even longer), so it is reasonable to assume that you will live with your new system for 10 years. This is no time to think of a quick fix or a good-enough solution.
  2. Think vendor selection, not product selection. The IP team must have liked the old system at first. What do they think now? Your current software was likely designed in an era when no-one took their PC home each night and when most of your electronic traffic was by fax. How much has the system changed since? Software doesn’t grow on its own and mature with age – it has to be developed and enhanced. Think about the vendor, their focus on software R&D, their track record of delivering new functionality, their ability for their clients to adopt new versions and increased benefits.
  3. This is an opportunity for significant change, though not necessarily all at once.  Your current procedures have been built around the limitations of your 10 year old system. Don’t even listen to those who want to minimize the impact on your existing IP processes! Take the time to re-think what you do and how you do it, just not everything at once. (We’ll look at ways you can phase in changes in a future blog piece). Find people who can embrace this change and give them a key voice in the project.
  4. Who else will be impacted by this change? Everybody involved in the IP process – inventors, marketing, business leaders, outside counsel and the whole IP team. But you get to choose how and when – again, you can phase in these changes over time. 
  5. This will save money! Yes it will involve new costs for software and implementation services, but it is not hard to lay out a multi-year ROI with IP operational cost savings, reduced business unit portfolio costs and positive impacts on the company’s core business.  Anaqua has tools to help assess the opportunities for cost-savings and business impact and a quite rigorous planning process for managing change. We also have clients who can share their experiences and lessons learned.

To be continued...

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