With ISMPP well into its second decade as a professional society, we find ourselves in an excellent position. We have been very successful to date and demonstrated strong historical growth, both in terms of our size and geographical footprint. This year’s Annual Meeting in the US was the largest ever in terms of attendance, as was the earlier European Meeting held in London this past January. We have established clear short-term strategic goals, and feedback from our members suggests that they continue to value our services and support. Given the ever-evolving environment, we determined there was a need to review our current position and establish a longer term strategic vision for the organization.
With this in mind, the ISMPP Board of Trustees (BOT) made the decision to convene a small strategic workgroup to spearhead this project. During her previous tenure as Chair of the BOT, Alice Choi developed the shorter term strategic goals and various longer term scenarios for the organization; therefore, it was felt that she, together with previous trustees Martin Delahunty and Dan Bridges, would be ideally placed to support the BOT with this initiative. This group, together with President & CEO Al Weigel and Immediate Past Chair Juli Clark, spent 12 months conducting insights research and landscape assessments.
“The efforts this past year were fruitful, resulting in the creation of a refined longer term vision for ISMPP, together with accompanying strategic objectives and goals,” said Alice Choi. “We are pleased to report that the Society now has a well-thought-out blueprint for its future.”
“The efforts this past year were fruitful, resulting in the creation of a refined longer term vision for ISMPP, together with accompanying strategic objectives and goals. We are pleased to report that the Society now has a well-thought-out blueprint for its future.”
– Alice Choi, Lead of ISMPP Strategic Workgroup and Past Chair of ISMPP Board of Trustees
While fresh thinking and new ideas were needed for the effort, a few caveats and working principles were established at the outset of the initiative:
- The strategic vision would cover a period of five years (2018-2022)
- Publications would remain at the core of ISMPP’s mission; an expanded remit would be considered, but not a fundamental change in remit
- The name of the organization would not change, even with any potential expansion to our remit
A robust and pre-agreed stepwise process was put in place for the project as outlined in Figure 1 below. Insight gathering was critical to the process, which formed the basis for a subsequent landscape assessment. Specifically, the targeted groups included:
- The strategic workgroup members themselves
- The Executive Committee and Board of Trustees
- Industry and Agency Executive Forum members
- Corporate sponsors
- Several members
Figure 1. The stepwise process
The Initial Learnings and Resulting SWOT Analysis
The insights gathered from the various groups reassured us that members were generally well served. There were some continued enhancements around professional development, education, and broadening of our geographic footprint. In addition, consistent themes around the need for wider medical education and digital engagement were also starting to emerge. The findings are illustrated in Figure 2 below.
Figure 2. The insights gathered
This assessment fed into a revised SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). The key opportunities that became clear were as follows:
- Potential to build on existing geographical footprint
- Potential to respond to members’ interest in broader scientific exchange beyond publications
- Growing interest in formal certification and education
- Ability to build on existing digital platforms
- Potential to explore new, and further embed, formalized collaborations/alliances
Key Areas of Focus for the Future
In thinking about how to harness these potential opportunities, several key imperatives were identified to build the future growth, reputation, and stability of the organization (Figure 3). These formed the backdrop for the strategic recommendations that followed in terms of areas of potential focus.
Figure 3. Longer term strategic imperatives
In order to fulfill the strategic imperatives, six key recommendations were made:
1. Continued focus on our publications remit: grow membership and geographical footprint
Given our continued commitment to medical publications, their importance, and the ongoing needs in this field, both globally and domestically, the need to continue this focus was clear. Specifically, we need to:
a) Continue to fulfill our members’ needs and ensure that we can anticipate future trends that they will face
b) Build on the success of our Europe and Asia Pacific initiatives
c) Identify new geographical targets and areas of unmet need, starting with our first-ever US West Coast meeting
2. Expand into broader medical communications
There is a trend towards greater collaboration between functions in the pharmaceutical industry and a need to make publications more accessible, including through other communication mechanisms. It is also recognized that at a regional/national level, many of those involved in publications also have broader medical communication responsibilities.
With this knowledge, a recommendation was made to expand into broader medical communications. Key areas of focus and initial priorities will be determined by a medical communications strategic taskforce.
3. Define and target new types of members
Areas of unmet need were identified through our insight gathering and analyses and targeting new types of members is considered a pivotal component to addressing unmet need. Potential new stakeholders include smaller pharma and biotech companies, new and future medical publication and communication professionals, and allied professionals in close disciplines.
4. Increase our digital offerings and capabilities
As the external multichannel environment evolves quickly, our organization also needs to evolve. Recommendations include:
a) Evaluation of our current engagement tools and channels to increase dialogue and interaction
b) Further investment in online education
c) Continued assessment of the landscape and staying abreast of trends that may impact our members
5. Continue to build and establish new partnerships and alliances
While we have been successful in our collaborations to date, there is a benefit to continue with our outreach endeavors to better address the future needs of our members. As such, we need to:
a) Evaluate our current relationships and how we can continue and further develop them
b) Continue to invest our time and efforts in the ongoing work of our Advocacy and Outreach Committee, focusing on medical societies, organizations representing professional standards, and regional organizations of interest
c) Identify new relevant strategic partnerships
6. Strengthen our governance and staffing structure
We have been extremely fortunate to have a dedicated BOT, committee members, and volunteers within our organization. For our continued success, an ongoing commitment is needed to ensure that the BOT composition reflects evolving needs, appropriate succession planning is in place, staffing is reviewed regularly, and fiscal planning remains robust.
These key recommendations are summarized in Figure 4 below.
Figure 4. Key strategic recommendations
What Does All of This Mean for Our Vision and Mission Moving Forward?
Our vision moving forward is:
To become the leading global authority on the ethical and effective communication of medical research to inform treatment decisions
Our mission will be to:
Advance the medical publication and communication professions globally through:
- Enhanced integrity and transparency in medical publications and wider communications
- Improved standards and best practices
- Education, advocacy, and professional collaborations
We believe that the newly defined strategic vision for ISMPP will build on our current success and encourage future growth and dialogue to advance best practices ― not only in the publication of medical research, but also its wider dissemination and exchange. As always, we truly appreciate the support of all our members, volunteers, and corporate sponsors in our endeavors, and we look forward to working together on our expanded remit.