Associations can offer value to their members by providing them with information that will help them make better decisions, save time or money. These “knowledge products” may include industry sales and volume statistics, industry forecasts/outlook surveys, and benchmarking and best practices information.
Knowledge products position an association as a “knowledge broker,” they provide member value and potentially generate non-dues revenue via sponsorship opportunities and/or report sales.
The development of a knowledge product typically follows these steps:
1. Knowledge Product Audit
• Review of current knowledge products.
• Review of the make-up of membership including a review of allied business members and identification of possible sponsorship opportunities.
• Review of recent member research with the intent of discovering unmet needs. If required, additional research will be conducted.
• Review of offerings from peer associations and other sources.
2. Concept Development
• Based on the audit phase, several knowledge product concepts are developed in consultation with the association.
3. Concept Evaluation
• Validation of knowledge product concepts through an association executive review and member survey.
One key type of knowledge product is benchmarking/best practices. Benchmarking information is a type of knowledge product that can be an extremely valuable asset to association members. It provides a way for an organization to compare their procedures and results with other organizations.
Sometimes an organization will want to look at a specific function, for example, order fulfillment and compare their practices with a wide range of organizations that may not necessarily be within their industry.
Typically they’re interested in comparing themselves to organizations that are recognized as being leaders in that particular area.
In another type of benchmarking, organizations wish to compare themselves just with organizations in their industry. In this case, they are looking across their range of activities. Usually we identify top performers based on profitability or some other agreed upon definition.
The results of this “best-in-class” group are shown separately. The value for an individual member will be in comparing their results with this group and to identify ways where they can improve.
As well the results are usually shown in a variety of ways so that an individual firm or practice can compare their own results and procedures to similar operations. For example, results may be grouped by billings or by region.