The definition of Quality has evolved in the past decades. If we take the ISO standard and its revisions since 1987, we see an original focus on documentation, procedures, quality control. Then in 1994, the concept of preventive action was introduced – prevent problems from happening instead of identifying and fixing problems. In 2000, the process approach and PDCA (plan-do-check-act) were officially born. The tentacles of ISO left the production line and installed themselves in the core of the organization. Now, when we think Quality, we think protecting the business. Strategic planning.
Quality is about getting organizations to act for their stakeholders – and not only clients, from improving products, services, systems and processes to ensuring that the whole organization is appropriate, profitable and effective.
Managing quality means constantly striving for excellence: ensuring that what the organization does is right for its purpose, and not only remains that way but keeps improving.
And how IP companies relate to all that?
IP companies are usually ranked by its brand or size. It is difficult to find a validated methodology to compare them.
Also when we take a closer look to how these firms and companies are organized internally in terms of metrics, we usually only find financial metrics – profit per partner, billable hours etc.
As in many businesses, not only speaking of industries, but also services, we see clear investments in mapping processes, streamlining, automation and even AI technology. All closely followed by a set of objectives and its corresponding KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).
How can the providers of clients that are developing the newest technologies in the world be so behind?
Historically, IP providers were mostly law firms. Legal world is felt to be above most clients’ heads. The nature of legal services is that their value is often in the long-term rather than short-term context. This tends to make clients relatively inactive in terms of comparing different firms’ offers and changing provider.
In light of these difficulties in making informed choices, consumers invariably preferred to fall back on personal recommendations.
These days are gone.
And this gap opened space for disruption. Companies focused on translations, annuities and even now filing of patents entered the market with a huge advantage – technology. Although at the beginning many mistakes occurred (natural part of the innovation process) and clients took some time to rely on this new type of provider, nowadays, they took an important (and very profitable) share of the IP business.
In order to fight this, traditional IP firms / companies need to change. Need to review the vision, mission, values, stakeholders’ expectations, organizational context, its risks and opportunities. And maybe, change their services instead of fighting for all the traditional ones. The innovation cycle is full of opportunities only partially glimpsed by IP firms / companies.
All this needs to be considered when goals are set and objectives are proposed from top management / partners to lines of productions – engineers, lawyers and paralegals. A robust quality management system needs to be in place so that the heavy wheels of these traditional companies can finally turn in the right direction and embrace a new future.