Across the strategic planning exercises, there was a strong level of consensus that the IBP’s strategic focus needs to be squarely upon "customers" at the field level. At the same time, IBP members had multiple perspectives as to whom the prioritized in-country customers should be. This is appropriate, as the IBP’s intended customers at the field level are determined by many factors, which include the country context, the RH/FP environment, and the willingness and motivation of various actors to engage.
These complexities, along with limited resources, have challenged the IBP’s reach and impact at the country-level. While the IBP has been successful in various countries throughout its 10 years (e.g. Egypt and Jordan 2002, India 2003, Uganda 2004, Ethiopia 2004–08, Kenya 2005–10), Partners affirmed that more must be done to link to field-level stakeholders and to promote and sustain advances in RH/FP.
In addition to Ministries of Health, IBP's obvious customer at the field level, many respondents identified a customer that has usually been overlooked: IBP Partners themselves. Among organizations other than the founding members there appears to be gaps in the understanding about the responsibilities and benefits of membership. As a result, active participation among more members has been limited, and their assets and competencies (i.e. technical, functional or geographic) have not been maximized. Accordingly, more can and should be done to: (i) establish diverse channels through which Partners can learn, contribute and/or share; (ii) engage their country offices in IBP activities; and, (iii) tap their country-level contacts and networks.
Key Customers: In consideration of the current reality, as well as the recommended IBP Membership Strategy, it is in IBP’s best interest to address efforts to two key customer groups:
1. IBP Partners (inward-focused): To address the knowledge and participation gaps among IBP members, a strong focus must be placed on building the capacity of IBP Partners to maximize services (e.g. Knowledge Gateway) and products (e.g. Guide to Fostering Change 2013), as well as develop new services. Activities to strengthen the participation of IBP Partners include:
- Develop a membership strategy and corresponding policies that emphasizes quality of membership (i.e. empowering new members to participate).
- Orient new IBP Partner representatives through training and/or pamphlets that promote a better understanding of IBP Operating Guidelines;
- Develop a simple set of marketing materials that aim to increase IBP visibility within IBP Partner organizations;
- Improve communication with Partners using social media and/or mobile technology—and link each medium to IBP’s Knowledge Gateway;
- Develop a reward system for current IBP members meeting quantitative and qualitative standards of participation;
- Make deeper and consistent contact with senior staff, leaders and other key staff members of IBP Partner organizations.
2. Field-level stakeholders (outward-focused): As IBP has limited human and financial resources, it must target services to key customers in order to make a significant impact at the country level.
Key customers at the country level may include:
- IBP partners at country level
- Ministries (Health, Finance, Planning)
- Country and Regional networks
- Local NGOs
- Donors (multi-lateral and bi-lateral)
- USAID Mission
- Private sector
- Professional associations
- Civil society