The Power of Users Groups
For more than 10 years Chris Alexander has been putting together Joint Industry Programs (JIPs) and Users Groups, focused on specific technologies in the oil and gas industry. The most successful of these user groups was the Composite Repair Users Group, affectionately known as CRUG to its members and those across the pipeline industry. CRUG brought together technology innovators, oil & gas operators, and investors to explore the range of capabilities associated with composite technology and to educate industry. This organization ran from 2008 to 2015 and at one point had more than 200 members. It was also responsible for helping generate more than $15 million in composite-focused research and development programs that were extremely important in getting this technology adopted among pipeline operators and regulators.
The key in putting together successful user groups is to find at least 10-15 companies who are interested in a specific technology or area of interest. Among these “first members” there needs to be a champion who helps organize and guide the group. Sometimes consultants are great in this capacity as they are used to serving in an unbiased manner and have built-in incentives for bringing people together.
Regularly-scheduled meetings are important. Meetings need to be well-organized to ensure that people want to attend. At some point an Advisory Board needs to be formed from among the members. This can be as formal, or informal, as the group wants it to be. If warranted, a non-profit group can be set up to allow the group to collect money, offer scholarships, and fund various activities that support the overall mission of the organization. If a formal option is selected, it will be important to put together By-Laws and some organizational structure (click here for an example set of By-Laws).
In CRUG we had typically had 4 meetings per year that included lunchtime meetings in February, May, and December (i.e., 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM). The “annual conference / exhibition” was held every September. This annual event was used to raise funds by selling booths and we typically had 90-100 people in attendance at these meetings. Fortunately, we were able to raise enough money at the annual event to fund the group for the entire year.
Feel free to contact ADV Integrity to let us help you put together a User’s Group. You can put our experience to work for you and allow you to focus on more important things – like protecting your assets, growing your business, and advancing your technology!