Often in firms, this is considered a minor part of operations, but clever development and use of intellectual property can lead to a significant improvement in firm productivity and profitability. Certainly firm names and logos need to be registered so as to help protect the firm’s brand. For some client businesses, if trading drops, all that is left is the intellectual property, so it becomes critical that is protected in some way.
Buy It In
In some firms standard processes, documents, precedents etc are gradually set up and added to, in some ad hoc fashion. The opportunity cost for this can be quite considerable. These days there are packages, such as those available from www.businessfitness.net where firms can buy intellectual property and have it available for use whenever required. Also, help with employment contracts can be obtained via www.workforceguardian.com.au
These days it is more and more critical for firms to have clear policies for all manner of eventualities. These can be expensive for small firms to establish, so buying in such documents is an obvious way to go. Another option is to join a special networking group (such as my TAP and SF Groups) where practitioners meet together and share their intellectual property. This is efficient for all as any adaptions and improvements can be further shared, so even better results obtained.
The difficulty is that situations arise where principals decide a policy document is needed, but ongoing pressure of client work means work on the policy document is deferred. In some cases, deferred until a forthcoming Quality Control Review, then a flurry of activity ensues. If the firm operates with an Administration or Practice Manager then this another aspect of work for which they can be responsible. Also, they may have networks which will help obtain useful precedents.
Constant Improvement and Capture
Another way firms can develop extra intellectual property is to hold special creativity days for staff and principals where people work to develop and improve processes, packages and policies for the firm. No client work is scheduled on those days, people can work either independently or in small teams. The principals can review and approve the proposed projects then the participants design solutions to the dilemmas they have identified. It is considered the whole Creativity Day concept could significantly add to a firm’s intellectual property.
Thea Foster, Director, Added Value Corporation.
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