IP groups are under growing pressure to rapidly expand the size and quality of their portfolios. The challenge inherent in this is greatly complicated by the growing number of companies with competitive IP ambitions, and the resulting accelerating pace. We have heard repeatedly from IP leaders that expanding legal expertise and capacity is not the greatest obstacle they face, but that their biggest challenge is in scaling the processes and operations that support their legal resources. Clearly establishing and scaling a solid operational foundation for IP is a major obstacle.
Recently we asked you to identify your biggest operational challenge from a short list of issues that we’ve heard most often. Below are the results.
Not surprisingly, the biggest obstacle identified is simply not having enough resources. Achieving efficiencies at scale is difficult, and that shows up clearly in these results. Many IP groups are under the same fiscal pressures that are impacting legal teams and company administrative operations in general. Budget pressure is consistently identified as the most acute factor impacting progress and impeding IP portfolios from meeting expectations.
This is also almost certainly a contributing factor to some or all of the other issues identified in this poll, and particularly to the next most common response: Non-standard procedures. Building effective and efficient operations is costly in terms of human capital, skills, and technology. But, equally important is the heavy toll that focusing on operations exacts in terms of the productivity of legal personnel.
The remaining factors all relate to the combined challenge of legal operations in an electronic world. Operating increasingly complex and sophisticated IP management software and mastering the data required to keep the system running smoothly are frequently-identified obstacles about which we have written before.
Closely related to this is the challenge of converting from paper-based to electronic workflows. Taken together, the electronic revolution in managing IP has become both a blessing and a curse. It offers the promise of significant improvements in quality and efficiency, but these systems and processes are necessarily complex and there is a steep learning curve in gaining the skills required to operate them effectively. The solution is to look for opportunities to streamline workflows, consolidate technology where possible, and identify the right number and combination of outside service providers to balance work appropriately for best balance of skill and efficiency.
Thanks again to everyone who contributed to this poll! We’ll be back with our newest poll next week.