Following up on our blog on “Collaborate online or your co-op will lose its competitive edge” we wanted to talk about a very important Key Performance Indicator for co-operatives – the Co-operative Engagement Index (CEI) – this is something that we have developed after nearly 20 years of working with co-operatives, building strategic software and shaping operations for co-operatives that have resulted in multiple growth spurts for these groups.
So what is this CEI and why should your co-operative measure and improve this over time?
Most co-operatives exist to leverage the collective buying & selling power of its members and vendors and build strong partnerships across their ecosystem. The leverage happens only when members and vendors participate and engage in dialog, business, transactions and contracts through the co-operative. The more the engagement, the stronger the co-operative. So if this engagement can be measured in a managed way, we can start to identify patterns and factors that build deeper engagements, or find patterns and factors that corrode engagements across members, vendors, co-operative employees and partners. So how can this be done?
In almost every co-operative in the world, this engagement today happens in an unmanaged space through emails, websites, Facebook and LinkedIn groups, road-shows, trade-shows, committee and board meetings. Unmanaged dialog creates a weaker co-operative and co-operatives do not have big funds to build an entire social network for themselves that have deep analytics like LinkedIn or Facebook or Twitter. There are membership management tools but they do not measure engagements and definitely do not provide insights on what is working and what is not.
How we came up with the CEI
This lead us to work with some of the large co-operatives that we have worked with to create the CEI. CEI in its most basic form measures the amount of dialog that happens in a “managed” space between all the parties of a co-operative over time. Using intelligent algorithms patterns are identified to then classify the dialog. A unit score is tagged to each dialog across different parties. For example, dialog that results in an inquiry to a vendor from a member may score 90% while a dialog about the weather today may score 10%. No dialog for 1 month can score -10%.
There were challenges that we had to overcome. First, co-operatives have different by-laws and operate differently. Secondly, co-operatives across different industries have different levels of engagement. Thirdly, co-operative across different countries and cultures will also have different classification of dialog and engagement. Lastly, how can all of the dialog across 100s of companies, 1000s of people be “managed”?
How it worked
We attacked the problem from the last to the first. We created a Social Network for Co-operatives that connected members, vendors and the co-operative into a managed space for all dialog. After implementing at one of our clients we soon learned that it was challenging to have everyone join at first. But over time there was good adoption, especially when the co-operative admins were deeply involved and believed in the engagement.
Next we tackled the differences across cultures, countries, industries and by-laws. We realized that is was a big task to normalize the CEI across all of these elements. So we create a “flexible” CEI that is adaptable for each co-operative with benchmarks to “similar” co-operatives.
The process starts with assessing all the communication, collaboration and engagement channels of a co-operative. Based on this the co-operative social network is implemented and the co-operative’s very own CEI is ascertained by tagging unit scores to each dialog type and pairs. Finally, the CEI is measured, reported and improved over time by bringing out patterns of what is working and what is not.
We have recently implemented this at one our customers, IDCO - they are an industrial hose co-operative. The co-operative's CEI is getting measured through our Co-operative Social Network implementation at IDCO. In 3 months engagement has gone up. IDCO is poised for exponential growth in the next few years.
Why you need to get your CEI
In the end, it is all about bringing value to a co-operative’s members and vendors and allowing all co-operative employees to feel as part of a giant ecosystem that marches to the same drum-beat and echoes the same sentiments of the collective buying and selling power. To that, the CEI is going to become one of the most important KPIs for the co-operative business.
Interested in learning more and getting a free assessment of all- your collaboration channels? You can reach out to us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or just call us at 845-271-6030.
Blog post by: Roni Banerjee. Reach Roni @ email@example.com
Roni heads Marketing & Sales for Medullus and is the Practice Lead for Blockchain Solutions. Roni has nearly 20 years of CIO/CTO experience with orgs across industries. Roni architected the world’s 1st true purchasing group ERP/BPM system for a billion $ org. Roni has implemented large workflow systems, recently for a public-traded pharma. Roni holds an MBA from Warwick Business School in the UK and several certification in PM, Agility, Blockchain and software.