Planning the 2017 Critical Impact Factors

Every year, the MHEDA Board of Directors releases its list of Critical Impact Factors that will be shaping the material handling industry in the upcoming year. These lists deal with trends in the economy, customer behavior, technology and much more. These CIFs have been instrumental in not only company planning but also inform MHEDA’s educational events as well as editorial for The MHEDA Journal. This year, the Board of Directors took a different approach to mapping out these Critical Impact Factors. We were able to sit down with MHEDA CEO Liz Richards to discuss the planning process and the final result. 

The MHEDA Journal: This is the 15th year that MHEDA has published its Critical Impact Factors. How did the idea of coming up with a list of industry Critical Impact Factors come about?

Liz Richards: Developing the critical impact factors is an integral part of MHEDA’s Strategic Planning Process.  CIFs are defined as: Environmental conditions, characteristics and trends that could impact the industry and/or its constituents, either positively or negatively, and therefore should be considered in identifying the future opportunities for member services.  

TMJ: This year's planning process was different than previous years. Can you explain what the old process was and how this year's process was different? Why did you decide to change the process this year?

LR: Many of the factors we identify stay "critical" for more than one year and we must be careful not to get too lazy by simply repeating those that are pervasive.  What has been traditionally done in the past was to review the previous year’s CIFs and make any changes or updates to those and then consider "what else" is happening.  We were concerned about this process becoming too lax and potentially limiting our opportunity to brainstorm.  This year, in advance of the summer Strategic Planning Meeting, we asked the MHEDA Board of Directors to send us their list of top three challenges they are facing and are most concerned about for the year ahead.  That equated to a list of 51 different statements which we then sorted into common areas.  The list initially got whittled down to twenty-two CIFs and after reflecting upon these, we eliminated those we viewed as a basic part of doing business and combined some commonalities; we ultimately ended up with fourteen CIFs.

TMJ: Did you see any major differences among the different industry segments represented on the board? Among geographic regions?

LR: There are some CIFs that pertain to certain industry segments and not others.  For example, CIF #3 is totally geared toward the industry truck market and speaks specifically about fleet management and telematics.  CIF #13 highlights the challenges faced more so by the Engineered Systems and Storage & Handling member as it relates to permitting, contractor licensing and code compliance.  There is no real geographic distinction with the CIFs – they are the same challenges across the US and in some cases, Canada.  Customer demands for increased automation are something every distributor needs to understand, embrace and be prepared to address.

TMJ: How can MHEDA members make use of these Critical Impact Factors when doing their own internal planning?

LR: It’s interesting and gratifying how many members contact MHEDA in July knowing that we will have just defined the CIFs.  These members use the CIFs to compare against their own and to use with their key managers to determine how they as an organization, will address each of these factors.

TMJ: How does MHEDA utilize the Critical Impact Factors when planning events for the year?

LR: All of our programs whether it’s a Convention workshop, general theme, education seminar, webinar, article in the magazine or new member service are measured against the CIFs.  Members might note that every convention workshop and educational offering is somehow reflective of a CIF.  

TMJ: Any other important details that readers should know?

LR: The CIFs are published on MHEDA’s website so be sure and download these for your own internal use.  Anyone who would like more information about MHEDA’s strategic planning process, feel free to contact me. 

Material Handling Equipment Distributors