Launching a Technical Consortium: Your Checklist for Success

CEO Corner, Starting an Association : Article

You’ve just spent months navigating the formalities of incorporating a new consortium and all the associated legalities and growing pains that will allow you to work with industry peers.

Now it’s time to begin the real work of identifying annual goals and objectives. Your chances for success will be much higher if you build a strong foundation.  Here is a handy checklist you should have before you begin to operate. Most of this checklist is also relevant for other associations seeking a blueprint for operational success.

For the Organization as a Whole

  RoP or Rules of Procedure. This document describes how your organization, as well as working groups and committees, is formed, how you will conduct business, and, if appropriate, how you will determine when the consortium’s work is complete.

  Standards Development Process. This document describes the standards development lifecycle – from initial proposals to final standards and beyond, including requirements, drafting, review cycles, approval levels, comment resolutions, maintenance, and errata.

  Tools and Technologies.  Just like an internal team in your company, a consortium must have the ability to share common assets, communicate with each other, and have the right tools in place in order to accomplish the tasks you’ve identified. Mailing lists, document repositories, wikis, forums, issue trackers, collaborative workspaces – identifying these upfront will ensure that moving forward you have a consistent set of tools that will advance your mission.

For the Individual Committees/Working Groups

  Charter.  The Charter defines the scope of work to be conducted by the group and itemizes deliverables and due dates.

  Minimum Membership.  You have to have sufficient resources – both human and monetary – in order to conduct business.  Minimum membership should be defined in the Standards Development Process and may include both individual and/or organizational participation.

  Proposed Chair(s).  Depending on your Rules of Procedure, Chairs may be appointed or elected.  If elected by the group members, having at least one strong candidate in place will ensure that the group will have the necessary leadership to carry out its mission.

… and most importantly,

Commitment.  When a group is in its formation stages, everyone is excited about the prospects and eager to jump in.  But once the formation period is over and the hard work is about to begin, will your members still be available? Don’t be naïve –  the people doing the work also have full-time jobs, and those jobs can be very demanding – taking away from the consortium.  Most likely in this early phase, you can only dream about the day when a surplus of membership dues will provide the financial stability that may allow for additional human resources.

With the checklist in hand, it’s time to get to work.


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