Friday, April 30, 2010

Partnering for building a successful ICF

Posted on Friday, April 30, 2010 by International Coach Federation

ICF’s Management Agreement with IMG

Since the year 2000, ICF has employed the assistance of a management company to run the association’s day-to-day operations. While the ICF Board of Directors sets overall policy and strategic direction for the organization, our management company partners with us to “make it happen.” Since May 2005, the ICF has been in a partnership with IMG. So for the last five years, under the direction of ICF’s elected leadership, IMG has provided service and support to our growing global membership.

Due Diligence Before Renewing the Contract
In early 2009, a special taskforce was appointed to look into the possibility of renewing the ICF/IMG contract for another period. The role of the taskforce was to engage in a due diligence process to consider the performance of IMG so far, to make sure any new agreement was in line with industry standards, to negotiate favorable terms for any new agreement, and to assess the way in which ICF and IMG worked together. This taskforce, on which I had the privilege of serving, worked for many months to perform this due diligence. Now, I would like to share the results of our work with you.

A Winning Partnership
In the course of our analysis, the taskforce realized that ours has been a winning partnership, in that IMG enabled us to reach significant achievements, which include:

  • ICF membership grew from 9,276 to 17,300 members over the past five years;
  • We moved from a deficit of $300,000 USD in 2005 to reserves of $1,950,000 USD in 2009, while our budget moved from $2,291,025 USD to $4,200,000 USD in the same period;
  • We moved from awarding 328 credentials a year in 2005 to 1,404 a year in 2009; from awarding 33 ACTP Accreditations a year in 2005 to 67 year in 2009; and
  • We moved from being mentioned in 229 captured press clips, representing 120 million impressions, in 2006 to 1,102 press clips, representing 335 million impressions, in 2009.

Other milestones we achieved along the way:

  • Adopting a strategic plan in 2006;
  • Introducing the International Prism Award in 2006;
  • Having a more diverse, globally representative volunteer leadership in 2006 to present;
  • Commisioning PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct the ICF Global Coaching Study and releasing the findings in 2007;
  • Publishing of first Annual Report in 2008; 
  • Opening of Regional Service Centres in Sydney and Brussels (in partnership with IMG) in 2008;
  • Redesigning our website in 2005 and 2009;
  • Introducing four microsites (Spanish, French and German in 2008 and Portuguese in 2009);
  • Launcing the ICF Research Portal in 2008;
  • Enhancing Coaching World through the addition of by-lined articles, additional graphics, columns in 2008;
  • Growing our core staff from seven to the current seventeen, 2005 to 2009;
  • Securing grants with a major humanitarian organization, 2007 to 2009;
  • Commisioning PricewaterhouseCoopers Client Survey and Association Resource Centre Inc. to conduct the ICF Global Coaching Client Study and releasing the findings in 2009;
  • Launching a brand development effort in 2009; and
  • Collecting feedback on an unprecedented number of member surveys and focus groups held in 2009.

Outstanding Performance Indicators
Besides considering the achievements of the partnership, the taskforce also looked at a series of performance indicators from the past 5 years. We cross-checked these indicators with industry standards for the management of associations like the ICF which had revenues between 2 and 5 million dollars. This analysis was very enlightening and gave us good financial indicators on how to assess how we rank in terms of value for money and the return on investment our staff offers.

IMGASAE Industry Standard for $2m-$5m in revenues
Management fee over total revenues42.09 percent48.10 percent
Operating Efficiency Ratio (revenue divided by assets)1.45 (estimate for FY 2011)1.1
Ratio Revenue divided # of employees$276,570 (estimate for FY 2011)$188,000

These figures mean:

  • The fee we pay IMG is lower than the average in the industry;
  • IMG has a much higher operational efficiency compared to the industry standards; operational efficiency means optimizing staff and resource utilization while streamlining operational processes; and
  • IMG uses their employees very efficiently compared to industry standards.
The taskforce was delighted to see that the partner we selected in 2005 has demonstrably served ICF at the best of its capacity, and given ICF a competitive advantage.

Periodical Assessment of KPIs
The taskforce next discussed what specific yearly key performance indicators (KPIs) needed to be included in any new agreement. ICF and IMG introduced the practice of setting KPIs in 2008, and we committed to continuing this. The KPIs are designed to clearly indicate whether IMG meets or exceeds any operational goals agreed upon. KPIs may include targets around member growth and retention, member satisfaction, financial results or other relevant measures. Any potential incentive payments made to IMG by the ICF would be linked to exceeding agreed upon KPIs.

ICF/IMG Relationship
The last 12 months have also included a negotiation process between representatives of IMG and the ICF Board. Additionally this negotiation focused on ways to enhance the current relationship and achieve a truly equal partnership—where both parties bring all they have to offer to support each other. IMG prepared a framework document (view document here) that outlines the principles (equity, free and respectful communication, mutual accountability and trust) that underlie the relationship we are creating.

A Culture of Member Feedback
Within the partnership document for ICF and IMG, the intention to continue to foster a culture of member feedback is articulated. Not only will this culture encourage members to provide input, but it will also provide the infrastructure to facilitate, collect and analyze the information received in this way. Our commitment is to keep working together, based on member feedback, to enhance ICF offerings and services and to make sure the ICF remains the leading global resource for the art, science and practice of professional coaching.

The result of the taskforce’s work was to create a recommendation to continue to partner with IMG for another 5 years. This was first shared with the Executive Committee and then with the entire Board of Directors. The Board approved the recommendation unanimously on April 19. A memorandum from the taskforce with the recommendation to renew the IMG contract is available for all members to read (please click here).

The Board and I are grateful to Gary Boyler, our Executive Director, and his staff for co-creating the ICF’s successes. Our relationship has evolved into a true partnership where both parties inspire each other and hold each other accountable to work at their best.

Giovanna D’Alessio, MCC
ICF President

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