Challenge: Building Institutional Memory and Ensuring Transparency
Building institutional memory is a challenge for every organisation, especially when an organisation has staff changes. This is especially important for those in new leadership positions who need to take stock of the organisation’s relationships and priority issues when they arrive. Luckily for Géraldine Kutas, who became Director-General of the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA) in 2019, ECPA had already invested in Quorum to log their official meetings. This meant that Kutas could have a quick snapshot of who the organisation had previously met without having to ask team members to sort through their diaries for past meetings.
Kutas immediately saw in Quorum the “value add in terms of transparency.” For many organisations, it can be challenging to be transparent on public affairs activities because a wide range of team members may take meetings with officials but be inconsistent in their internal reporting of these meetings. However, ECPA is committed to being transparent in all their activities, from studies published on their products to letters to the European Commission on their website.
“Our goal is to be as transparent as possible,” Kutas said. “In terms of reporting our meetings with EU officials, we really want to be leading the way with transparency.”
Solution: Logging Interactions with EU Officials in a Tool Tailor-Made for Public Affairs
With Quorum’s interaction logger on desktop and in a mobile app, interactions with stakeholders are easy to log in a matter of clicks. Quorum’s aggregated database of publicly-available information for over 40,000 EU officials and staff in one place means that users spend less time searching and more time logging what really matters — who was met, what was discussed, and when the meeting occurred.
“There are many ways to log your meetings, but I think Quorum is the perfect tool,” Kutas said. “You log your meetings and what was discussed. It’s that simple. At the end of the year, you just have to pull the information and it’s done in one go. No more searching through calendars six months later or ‘oh I forgot’ or ‘maybe it was 1 hour or was it 3 hours…?’ No, you log it straight after the meeting and all the information is there.”
Kutas argues that for any team the value of reporting on meetings is of “continuity for the organisation.” The loss of institutional memory is an inevitable consequence of a team member leaving, even if there is a handover period.
“If you use the tool correctly, you have all your interactions logged in Quorum anyway,” Kutas said. “Staff turnover doesn’t affect the organisation in the same way because you have the information in one place and it’s accessible for everyone. There is nothing worse than meeting someone in the European Parliament or European Commission and starting your briefing from scratch, and that person interrupts you with ‘oh but I’ve met your colleague six months ago and I already know what you’re talking about’. It breaks the confidence in your organisation’s reputation.”
The value of logging meetings also has a daily application by ensuring that the team is correctly briefed before upcoming meetings.
“After all, you might just have forgotten what was last discussed with someone two months ago,” Kutas commented. “And at least with that, you can log into Quorum before your meeting and see if you’ve met the person, what was discussed, and you can take it from there.”
For ECPA, having a robust system for logging interactions with EU officials has delivered another key benefit – accurate reporting to the EU Transparency Register.
“For many trade associations, it is difficult to track how to calculate lobbying spend for the transparency register, but Quorum’s tools give us confidence in our reporting,” Kutas said.
When ECPA team members log their meetings, they also log the time spent at the meeting.
“Time spent is multiplied by the rate of each team member,” Kutas said. “It gives us a good sense of how much we spend… So we have a methodology to prove that what we have declared is backed up with evidence.”
The crucial aspect here is accurate reporting by every team member involved in any meeting held with an EU official. The team’s aim is to log every meeting on the day because remembering key discussion points of a meeting becomes much harder over time.
Impact: Robust Reporting of ECPA’s Public Affairs Activities
ECPA’s systematic logging of interactions with EU officials in Quorum means the team has confidence in their reporting. It also enables them to build institutional memory within the organisation and report internally in a clear and accessible way for the entire team.
“In ECPA’s case, transparency is the main value add of Quorum. We don’t just want to talk the talk, we have to walk the walk,” Kutas said. “We made a commitment to be transparent [both internally and externally] so we want a tool that can back up the information that we publish. Logging our meetings with officials in Quorum does just that.”