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I had barely gotten settled at my desk as a new B Keeper when the deadline for our re-certification appeared on the horizon.

I assumed that answering a catalog of questions and providing some documentation could hardly take more than a month. Obviously, I had never gone through the process! To make things more complicated, I knew little about the internal workings of the company I had just started with, nor had I met all of my new colleagues. In hindsight, I am amazed we pulled it off and managed to create a more robust process to help us recertify in the future! Here are some of our key take-aways to make the process of (re-)certification a little easier.

Among the five assessment categories, some Internal Champions are more obvious than others. Governance and employees usually fall into the recruiting/HR and finance departments with some support from the leadership team. Customers, too, are best answered by a set of client-facing departments and leadership. Environment and Community became a joint effort of finance and leadership so that in the end, each category was covered by at least one — often two — Internal Champions.

Know where your information lives: Data and documents

After our initial kick-off, the core team went off to work on their sections and dig up data and information for all metrics. They consulted with different departments and came back very quickly with full sets of data. I was impressed. Our job was almost done. Right?

Once we had submitted our answers in all five categories, we knew our partner at B Lab was going to request documentation for a select few questions. Once we had the list of what was needed, it took a while to gather everything. The explanations of what type of document was needed, what format it should come in and the level of detail necessary often were double in length compared to the actual question. We had access to all of this documentation, somewhere. But relaying the specifics to the right stakeholder within the company who often had little context proved a challenge.

Sample question from the Environment section

Once we had submitted the additional information, our certification partner at B Lab came back with additional requests to answer even more questions that drilled deep into the folds and wrinkles of our business model (she is a diligent German; I have to give her credit!). I appreciate the rigor of the assessment; after all, that’s what makes a certification and label valuable. But I would also be lying if I said I wasn’t getting frustrated. The level of detail was sometimes hard to identify or prove in documentation; more than once I uploaded six or seven documents trying to prove one single aspect of a metric. I thought I was making it easier on us by taking on the remaining documentation and letting the core team members who were experts in their areas off the hook. But in hindsight, I should have let the internal champions handle the process. As a part-time person, I should have trusted the core team to pull everything together and leverage their familiarity with their data sets instead of starting conversations with different departments all over.

Sample question from the Governance section

In the end, we finalized our recertification in just under four months and even increased our score (high five!). While I was relieved the process was over, I knew that our real work was just beginning. I was determined to put in place systems and tracking tools that would allow us to be more efficient the next time we were recertifying.

More than that, each team had developed recommendations to not only increase our score but steer the company in a direction that would align us even more with the value of the B Corp mission. For the next 18 months, we will be tracking changes and start implementing the first set of recommendations.

Design systems for success

(Re-)Certification puts a strain on corporate resources, no doubt. What I did learn in the process, however, is that you are not just checking boxes and collecting data. You gain deep insights into your company’s culture, start to question and dissect processes and policies. And by the end, you have a multi-faceted understanding of how ethical and sustainable your company really operates, and in which areas it can grow even more into the purpose-driven company that you want it to be. In that sense, (re-)certification provides a company with a step-by-step guide on how to become a better business.

Sample question from the Workers section

Here are a few operational improvements we will strive to make over the next year and a half:

  • Categories often overlap in terms of where the relevant information lies. This time, each team had to consult with our finance department on a subset of their questions, most teams knocked on the door of HR to get some answers. Going forward, we will pool questions to departments that hold the information from each (re-)certification team and submit one request instead of five individual ones.
  • Given that documentation caused such as time delay in our case, going forward we will track more carefully where each answer in the certification tool came from. This means we will be creating an intimidating spreadsheet with questions, codes, answers, stakeholders, assessment points, links and notes. We shall document relentlessly! If anyone has found an alternative, please get in touch!
  • As the core team we will check in every six months to track our progress against the implementation timeline.
  • Lastly, I recommend to any company going through the (re-)certification process to make space in their calendars and — depending on the business type — their budget to make sure they have enough time and resources to work through (re-)certification.

Remember this will make you better

Going through this process we all have come to understand just how valuable this process is for any company that is serious about operating as a socially responsible business. Investigating with scrutiny how exactly we are impacting our beneficiaries, the environment, our employees and community has provided us with deep insights into the workings of the company. It has helped us understand what challenges we may face as we grow and helped us put systems in place that will help us stay true to our mission as we expand and grow. The most valuable experience for me as B Keeper was working with a core-team of dedicated colleagues who have embraced B Corp not so much as a certification but a process that helps make the company better — as a corporate citizen, employer, service provider and community partner. It’s an invaluable experience to see colleagues get excited about not only working for, but contributing to running a socially responsible company!

Thank you to this incredible team of dedicated Internal Champions!

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I knew you'd like my diagnosis

Patient Satisfaction is an important brush stroke in the Patient Experience picture, but they are too often tossed around as one and the same. Understanding the difference will result in huge wins for providers and doctors.

Our Patient Experience Blog at ImConnect clears the air and explains that, while providers and doctors shouldn’t confuse the two, you can’t have one without the other.

UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE 

The reason Impact Makers exists is to give back to the community, so we hope you’ll join us this #GivingTuesday in giving to the charities, ministries, or non-profits that align with your passions and missions.

If you’re looking for ways to give, please consider our charitable and pro bono partners. We not only support them financially, but we also provide our professional services in a variety of capacities to aid each partner in their particular strengths and weaknesses. See below for a short description and links to their donation pages.

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  • Family Lifeline helps families succeed & assists Central Virginia’s most vulnerable children, parents & seniors by providing support, wellness & education​. Donate to Family Lifeline
  • Rx Partnership provides free prescription medications to qualifying uninsured patients of Virginia’s free clinics​. Donate to Rx Partnership

  • FLiPM (Future Leaders in Project Management) provides project management training to youth to empower a workforce of competent, well trained, professionally certified employees​. Donate to FLiPM

  • Peter Paul Development Center supports the residents of Richmond’s East End with  education, senior and after-school programs, a food bank  & other community resources​. Donate to Peter Paul Development Center

  • Midwives for Haiti is working to end preventable maternal & infant mortality in Haiti through education & empowerment​. Donate to Midwives for Haiti

  • IT 4 Causes provides stable, secure & sustainable information technology solutions that enable other non-profit organizations to focus on their missions and serve their clients better​. Donate to IT 4 Causes

  • AHRC NYC is committed to finding ways for people with intellectual & other development disabilities to build full lives​. Donate to AHRC NYC

This fall, Katy Dynes and Jessica Clatterbuck had the amazing opportunity to travel to Haiti and implement a new data collection app with the midwives and staff at Midwives for Haiti.

The problem: As they visit and help pregnant Haitian women through pregnancy and childbirth who have little to no access to  health care, MFH staff and midwives have always collected their data with pen and paper. This presents several hurdles in doing their jobs. Not only is it difficult to track and a struggle to perform daily tasks, but relying on paper makes it difficult to understand MFH’s impact on maternal and infant mortality in Haiti, and in certain areas in Haiti. This is a problem in their strategy, as well as in fundraising.

The solution: Impact Makers, along with Brittany Tusing at MFH, designed a data collection app called CommCare. To implement the app, !m sent Katy and Jess to Haiti, along with a suitcase of brand new tablets. The goal was to train the staff and midwives and oversee a smooth implementation of this new data collection system. This was a success! At the end of the trip, the midwives lovingly told Katy and Jess: “We don’t need you anymore!”

See the story for yourself:

connect-post-15Google announced earlier this year that it is sunsetting its first business-centered product: The Google Search Appliance (GSA). Companies everywhere are left wondering: what do we do now?

It’s time to think outside the box.

From cost to security, there are many convincing reasons to consider a cloud-based, hosted solution when replacing GSA.

Check out ImConnect’s latest blog post on the 4 Reasons to Think Outside the Box to see why.

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Providers and doctors can often develop tunnel vision, focusing too heavily on patient volume, rather than patient experience. Read ImConnect’s Free eBook to see how loyal patient relationships can actually be built way before patients walk into the doctor’s office. It all starts with patients’ online searching and the patient experience on a provider’s website.

Download now to learn how to convert consumers to loyal patients!