IUPAC Company Associates, such industrial companies, research and development institutions and laboratories, or scientific societies, support IUPAC financially and provide input to the Bureau on subjects of concern to industry. In addition to financial support, the CA scheme also, and perhaps more importantly, increases the engagement of organisations with IUPAC and provides an effective means of two way communication between IUPAC and its stakeholders. A successful CA scheme would benefit IUPAC, COCI and industry. It would help to increase the impact of the Applied aspect of the role of IUPAC. However, the CA scheme is only one aspect of the engagement process of IUPAC with industry and with its Applied base. This project, while being centred upon the CA scheme, will also provide information on the Voice of the Consumer for IUPAC and help to redefine and strengthen the impact of IUPAC.
For the past several years, IUPAC has experienced a decrease in the number and participation of Company Associates. It has been very difficult to attract CAâ€™s for some time. There have been several attempts to attract more CAâ€™s from the countries with a significant chemical industry. But apart from a few isolated successes there has been no major break-through and no indication of what sorts of actions IUPAC and COCI could take to systematically increase the numbers of CAs. Identifiable deficiencies in the current CA scheme include:
- NAOs are responsible for recruitment but most are either inactive or unaware of this aspect of their responsibilities. In addition many NAOs have minimal contact with local companies
- Communication and correspondence is convoluted and lengthy
- COCI is responsible for communication of benefits of IUPAC and the CA system but has not developed a suitable script or message
- The CA scheme has little financial benefit for IUPAC and, collaterally, little defined benefit for participating organisations. If IUPAC could define the value proposition for the CA scheme, ensure that value proposition is relevant then it could charge a reasonable sum for membership of the scheme and enhance take up since organisations would benefit from membership in a tangible way. So long as IUPAC is unclear what Applied means to it as an organization, it will continue to struggle with the concept of a viable and valuable CA scheme.
The challenge then is to develop a more compelling story for CAs and to then transmit that to target groups in order that they may find benefit in greater involvement with IUPAC through the CA route. In order to achieve this, there are several stages that must be gone through. These can be summarized as follows:
- The first stage in finding a solution is to define what we and the potential beneficiaries of the CA scheme mean by Applied Chemistry, the CA programme and what the tangible and intangible benefits will be for those who participate in the CA program. In other words, we need to define the value proposition. We need this to be simple and meaningful. Having a plethora of potential advantages works against the rapid uptake of the CA system by companies and others.
- We need to work with global stakeholder groups to adapt the core messaging to suit both the local environment and the sectors/segments we wish to engage with. We also need to be cognizant of IUPAC itself and those currently participating to ensure we have consensus about the message and the necessary messaging.
- We need to have a defined series of targets which will include both numbers of participants and the enhanced impact of IUPAC through enhanced engagement.
- We then need to have a defined action plan which will deliver increased CA activity and impact If we are unable to complete any of these stages then it will be appropriate for IUPAC to radically change the CA system, its objectives and its deliverables to reflect the new reality.
Phase 1: Assessment & Information Gathering via a Voice Of the Customer [VOC] and View of the Stakeholder (VOS) survey.
The first phase will define the protocol and the questions. Define the team and list target segments of the chemical community to respond to a qualitative survey. This will include companies, but also academic organizations and input from the IUPAC Divisions, Standing Committees, Bureau and Executive. Advice on the structuring and process to get the best results from a VOC will be sought. The overall aim will be to identify the most impactful consultees with a series of sets of questions. The responses to each phase will determine which direction subsequent sets of questions will take.
Set 1 will identify the background and existing level of knowledge of IUPAC.
Set 2 will be divided between those who are actively aware of IUPAC, those who are passively aware and those whose knowledge is fragmentary or non-existent. It will focus on what the current IUPAC offering looks like to each grouping.
Set 3 will be focused upon the key aspects of the work of each of the groups, further sub-divided by segment (industry, academia, governmental and others). The questions will be set to try to establish which value propositions would be most compelling and how the value could be best realised. This will be both from a pre-arranged set and from open ended questions.
Set 4 will probe the relationships of the groups with other collective organisations (e.g. trade bodies, advisory groups etc.) and the distinct value these bring to each representative of each group.
Set 5 will be based upon the responses from the first 4 sets. In this set of questions, participants will be asked to rank the proposed value propositions and to suggest their own participatory levels ranging from passive receipt of information to proactive and full participation.
November 2014 update: Within the framework of this project, a survey was deployed to obtain members perspective on how IUPAC does engage with industry as well as suggestions on how to improve this. The questionnaire is accessible at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/XLGRKD2.
November 2015 update – From the Voice of the Customer survey, COCI input was gathered from all IUPAC governance units. Over half the respondents felt that engagements with industry were strong or medium. The key benefits of the CA program for IUPAC identified in the survey were the engagement of industrial chemists in defining needs and project opportunities, executing projects, and using the output of IUPAC projects. These outputs include workshops, symposia, technical reports, and standards. Financial support was also a clear benefit. The benefits for industry were also identified and included project outputs, nomenclature and standards, technical publications, outreach, and education. Most readers can identify IUPAC outputs that are essential to international commerce such as nomenclature, atomic weights, standards, and terminology. Several opportunities for improving the scheme were identified, including communications, invoicing, tracking, building the IUPAC brand, and the program infrastructure.
Phase 2 of this project will focus on developing scenarios for an updated CA scheme; each scenario will involve options that have costs and benefits. For example, the recruiting and tracking of Company Associates could range from exclusive ownership by NAO to exclusive ownership by IUPAC Secretariat, with options for collaboration between these extremes. Factors influencing the selection may include availability of resources, managing engagement of multi-national companies, national programs benefiting from a NAO, communication issues, etc. The project team will develop these scenarios and solicit feedback from the NAO, IUPAC leaders. Results of the project are expected to be delivered in 2016.
March 2016 – Project update published in Chem. Int. March 2016, p. 19; http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/ci-2016-0210
Page last updated 19 March 2016