Benchmarking Consortium Status Update: Pivoting With the Times

Andrew Griffith

IPA held the first Industry Benchmarking Consortium (IBC) meeting more than 30 years ago. The face-to-face interactions between member companies have always been a key benefit of membership in the IBC and associated subcommittees. Our plan was to host IBC 2020 again as an in-person meeting in Virginia in March 2020.

However, when COVID-19 pandemic disruptions began spreading across the globe, IPA pivoted to deliver consortium material via online webinars as opposed to the traditional in-person meetings. As the entire world struggled to understand and react to the realities on the ground, IBC 2020 was canceled shortly before it was scheduled to begin once it was clear that most members would not be able to send delegates to the conference in Leesburg, Virginia. Facing a changing situation, IPA immediately set in motion a plan to deliver IBC 2020 material via online webinars. IPA delivered the first IBC webinar on 18 March 2020 and followed a pace of delivering one webinar per week. We scheduled two sessions for each presentation to accommodate different time zones. IPA delivered the final IBC 2020 presentation 17 June 2020.

Driven by the continued disruption from COVID-19 restrictions, IPA delivered five more IBC-related annual meetings via online webinars and secure company online meetings. Online delivery provided an immediate benefit to the membership. Each member company was able to invite an unlimited number of participants to attend online presentations. As one participant commented, the webinars “accommodate more people and are easier to fit in our schedule.” IPA used the platform to facilitate questions, record the sessions, and distribute the recordings and slides to everyone who registered. We have learned a great deal from this process. For example, we have upgraded the platform used to deliver webinars, adjusted our approach to questions, and modified our delivery schedule to reflect membership input. Not only did the sessions provide “a good break from the COVID world” but participants also found they “got a lot out of the sessions.”

These efforts, borne out of necessity, have been so successful, IPA will be continuing with online only delivery of consortium material for CEC 2021 (September) and UIBC 2021 (November). Although some parts of the world are opening back up, many regions are not yet able to travel to the U.S. for face‑to‑face meetings. The IBC is a global community and our plan is to return to in-person meetings once all of our member companies can fully participate.

As of now, IPA is planning an in-person IBC 2022 annual meeting in Virginia in March 2022. However, the lessons we have learned about online delivery have led us to plan for a hybrid model for all future consortium meetings. Feedback from the membership has been overwhelmingly positive, and member companies have made it clear that we should continue hosting these webinars even after returning to in-person meetings. As a result, IPA will design a program where we will host in-person annual meetings and then schedule follow-up webinars to allow for wider participation in IBC and related subcommittees.

Look for IPA to announce details regarding future consortium annual meetings and webinars as plans develop. For additional information, please contact us via the form below.

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