by Chris Robinson, Midwest Asset Recovery
Like much of corporate America, Investment Recovery professionals are finding they have fewer resources with which to accomplish their ever-growing responsibilities.
Here are a few thoughts on how to manage the workload while maintaining some sense of sanity and control!
Flexibility: IR Specialists are finding themselves with increasingly larger geographic areas to manage, requiring flexibility in how to approach disposition of their products.
Responsibility: IR Specialists are finding it more difficult to “specialize” in product lines, but rather, are being required to diversify their expertise. Understand your strengths, work to improve your weaknesses and try to improve your focus.
Accountability: IR Specialists are being asked to demonstrate their value through increased data capture and metrics reporting. Look at this as an opportunity to increase the visibility of IR in your organization.

IR Specialists are evolving along with, and in some cases, ahead of the world marketplace. Yes, we spend much of our time selling old technologies, but we need to embrace new approaches in accomplishing our jobs.

Adaptive Investment Recovery

Research: Adapting a variety of research methods will allow us to gain better tactical knowledge of market conditions and better manage our assets. While not the sole source of information, use of the Internet is a crucial tool for this process, allowing instant access to a broad variety of market data.
Networking: IR Specialists must master the art of networking. Networking is not an event, but rather a process for establishing growth.
Professional Organizations—IR Specialists should join and be active in professional organizations. The Investment Recovery Association and the trade associations specific to your industry are an excellent start.
User Groups—Like their IT counterparts, IR Specialists must work to develop networks within key product lines and similar companies. If a user group doesn’t exist, create one! Individual mentoring is another great way to develop yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask others how they manage a particular product or process; most are glad to share their experiences.
Take and Make Those Calls!—The key to development of a broad support network is to meet new people that have a shared interest in your work. Prospective bidders, vendors, and buyers can be a key to the development of an ever-expanding network of resources.
Internal Collaboration—You can’t do it all! You need collaborative internal relationships. IR is a service-oriented practice. An account management approach, coupled with an understanding of operational workflow, will allow IR Specialists to find their places and assist in meeting customer expectations. Collaboration with these internal customers will frequently create partnerships. Field staff can provide key technical expertise and equipment service history and can take pictures for listings. This collaborative process helps the entire disposition process.
Adaptive Practices:  The ever-changing world market has created a need to adapt to and adopt new practices. IR Specialists must demonstrate cross-functional ability to perform research, marketing & sales, assessment & appraisal and account management.
Develop Yourself: Take the time for a self-assessment of your practical skills and practices as an IR Specialist. Ask, “What do I do well?” “Where can I improve?” Make a list, be honest with yourself, and then create a plan to address the issues you uncovered.

• Take a class or seminar to improve your skill set. Check with community colleges and internally for classes on topics like Google Techniques and Microsoft Office.
• Going beyond your comfort level and getting more involved in the Association is a great business decision for your development as an IR professional.
• Visit some of your vendor and bidder sites and ask them to show you the tools they use for equipment valuation and disposition options. Ask questions to help you better understand their process. Learn from their expertise.
• Finally, challenge yourself with a self-improvement course such as Dale Carnegie. You will find the ability to develop skills that will assist you with all of the items mentioned above. In addition, you will learn a great deal about yourself.

A Seat At The Table

IR Specialists have the ability to play a key role in many functional areas. The current focus on sustainability and “green initiatives” creates an open-door opportunity to demonstrate strategic and tactical approaches to these initiatives. Become the subject matter expert for the identification, appraisal, movement and reclamation of residual products from your industry. By focusing on the principals of Flexibility, Responsibility, Accountability and Adaptability, IR Specialists can do more with less and become an even more valuable asset to their company.

Reprinted from ASSET 2.0, the Investment Recovery Business Journal, Vol. 4, 2008


© The Investment Recovery Association