BSIS from a project manager’s perspective


Thanks to Eric Neutuch, Accreditation and Institutional Projects Partner, and Anne-France Borgeaud Pierazzi, Head of Public Affairs, at IMD for sharing their perspectives.

Your institution may be considering adopting the Business School Impact System (BSIS). If so, you probably are thinking about how to conduct the project effectively and efficiently.

At IMD (Lausanne, Switzerland), we were principally responsible for implementing the BSIS project under the direction of the President and Management Team. We entered data into the BSIS Online Data Collection System, planned the two-day BSIS expert visit, and led the post-visit external communications, among other tasks. It was IMD’s first local impact assessment exercise, which made it an exciting yet also challenging endeavour.

If your school opts into the BSIS assessment, here are four recommendations informed by our experience:

1) Collaborate with your colleagues.

This may be obvious, but don’t take the project on by yourself. We engaged about 50 colleagues in providing data to respond to BSIS’s 120 prompts across the seven impact dimensions: financial impact, educational impact, business development impact, intellectual impact, regional ecosystem impact, societal impact, and image impact.

The data needed for the BSIS Online Data Collection is often quantitative and detailed, so we recommend small meetings with colleagues to discuss methodological considerations and to discuss the information needs. As we met with colleagues and made data requests, we always explained the project and its intended outcomes.

2) Fact-check all the data that comes in.

No matter how clear you are in your data solicitations, it’s imperative that you fact-check all information. For every piece of information, review the source documentation, as you are principally responsible for data integrity.

You may not be able to get to 100% verifiable data for certain prompts. In these cases, caveat your data sources and annotate your estimation processes. Here’s an example. IMD, like other business schools, cannot pinpoint all of its living alumni. Given this limitation, we entered into the Online Data Collection System a conservative number of “at least 2,800” alumni in our region of Canton Vaud, noting that the true number is likely higher and that our methodology was conservative.

Your diligence on the financial impact data that you enter into the Online Data College System is especially critical as conducting an economic impact analysis may be a new activity for your school without any previously validated work to build upon. As we worked with colleagues to estimate local area hospitality expenses of IMD executive education participants, we sanity-checked all numbers with multiple sources and gathered more evidence before inputting final numbers and methodological annotations into the Online Data Collection System.

3) After completing the data collection, write an executive summary.

After you finish entering data into the Online Data Collection System, the EFMD Impact Services staff will produce a BSIS PreVisit Report with the aggregated data. As a next step, we recommend writing an executive summary highlighting your school’s main impacts in each of the seven BSIS impact dimension areas. Such an executive summary will help focus the dialogue during the expert visit and will lay the groundwork for post-visit external communications.

4) Report your BSIS impact findings externally.

Even as you are just beginning the project, we recommend that you think ahead to reporting your findings externally.

At IMD, our post-BSiS external communications were inspired by the post-BSIS communications of Sobey School of Business (Halifax, Canada), namely their eye-catching Creating Impact with a Purpose report. A video produced by L’IAE Savoie Mont Blanc also impressed us. Finally, we took notice of community impact reports and rigorous local economic impact studies published in the United States by Harvard University, UCLA, and Brown University.

Extending from these models, once IMD’s BSIS expert visit wrapped up, we developed an Impact Report that we released in English and in French in tandem with EFMD’s announcement of the awarding of the BSIS label to IMD. Later on, we collaborated with our President Jean-François Manzoni to publish an article on the school’s BSIS findings and learnings in the EFMD Global Focus magazine.

Since our own external reporting in early 2020, we’ve taken note of the release of an impact website and a set of facts & figures by Rotterdam School of Management and of a series of infographics by EMLV Business School (Paris). Other potential post-visit communication options for schools completing their BSIS visits include videos, landing webpages, and coordinated social media posts.

As a final piece of advice, should your school take on the BSIS project, have fun. Discovering and reporting on impacts not previously known or widely shared was exciting for us. From our perspective, the BSIS project was manageable, meaningful, and productive.