Members’ survey data helps to inform CEDA’s evolution
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Trailing Suction Hopper Dredger (TSHD) Photo Credit: VesselFinder
Findings from CEDA’s inaugural membership survey show high levels of satisfaction, sitting at 72%, with responses also providing clear directives to shape the association's ongoing evolution. Key recommendations from members called for CEDA to build upon networking opportunities it already offers; refine its digital offerings; better publicise its contribution to international policy making; and demystify the industry and address misconceptions stakeholders may hold about the dredging industry.
Launched in September 2021, the aim of CEDA’s inaugural membership survey was to canvas opinion on the services the association provides, and how it could offer members greater value. Devised by Mark Lee at HR Wallingford, Anna Csiti, Management Advisor to CEDA, and the dredging team at HR Wallingford, the 13 question e-survey covered four broad themes: membership status and activity levels; membership benefits; CEDA’s performance; and the scope of the association’s activities.
Open for ten months, a total of 116 survey responses were received and the findings “provided valuable insights into what CEDA is doing right, what it might want to do more of, and what it might want to try that is new”, according to Dr Lee.
The post-survey analysis was presented to the CEDA Board and the Strategy Commission and has helped to define a pathway to address membership feedback, and to expand the association’s reach across the dredging industry and beyond.
Contribution to policy making
What is clear from the survey is that CEDA membership engagement is dynamic (82% of respondents indicated they / their company actively engage with the association). This, according to Dr Lee, enables CEDA to “draw upon a vast breadth of technical expertise, underpinned by decades of experience”. Active engagement allows CEDA to contribute to the development of international policy, such as the London Convention and Protocol and the OSPAR Convention, and to participate in various strategic fora, including the International Seabed Authority.
However, some members suggested that CEDA could better promote this important aspect of its mandate. While noting its role is not to promote the dredging industry but to provide impartial and knowledge-based information to drive better understanding, regulations and guidance, the association has taken steps to raise its profile and better publicise its successes. For example, a series of interviews with key industry figures have been published in the CEDA Industry News, and articles have been placed with external publications to improve CEDA’s visibility. A higher profile at relevant conferences and trade fairs is also being targeted.
Going forwards, CEDA also plans to incorporate more policy insights into National Section events. This will raise awareness of the work undertaken by CEDA Commissions and ensure members are kept apprised of current trends and emerging policy discussions.
Mini focus: What CEDA members value
A significant majority of respondents highly rated CEDA membership (72% viewed CEDA as good or excellent value). Amongst the benefits most highly regarded by respondents, the following were notable:
- networking and business development opportunities (73% of respondents felt CEDA met their networking and business development needs well or very well)
- provision of technical guidance and best practice information (64% felt CEDA met their individual needs well or very well)
- the Dredging Days conferences (73% rated the conferences as good or very good).
A need for networking
While 73% of respondents regarded CEDA’s “Dredging Day Conference” as good or very good, some respondents stressed a need to build upon networking opportunities. As a result the association has reviewed and revised its conference formats to maximise the opportunities for delegates to network and exchange latest information. CEDA has also invested additional resources into promoting the benefits of participating in its thematic working groups, including the opportunity to inject technical expertise into the guidance / best practice design process.
While the association will continue to organise its popular in-person events, it will also run more webinars, as appropriate, to reach larger audiences and reduce associated carbon-footprints. CEDA’s commitment to sustainability manifests itself in other ways too. In conjunction with the International Association of Dredging Companies (IADC), it is actively promoting a jointly developed book and training course, ‘Dredging for Sustainable Infrastructure’, as an example of the practical work it is doing to inculcate sustainable practices into the dredging industry.
Some respondents felt CEDA’s online presence could be bolstered. Acting on this feedback CEDA has improved its website. Corporate members are now listed on the landing page to increase their visibility and facilitate networking, and the technical resources available to the membership are better signposted on the website.
The Strategy Commission is also actively exploring opportunities to utilise the CEDA website and DredgePoint (acquired by CEDA in 2021) to demystify the industry and correct some of the most common misconceptions and misinformation, for example some of the commentary around the oft-reported issue of sand scarcity. By making factual information on key dredging topics more accessible, CEDA is aiming to cement its position as the preeminent information point for the dredging industry.
95% of the responses were submitted by existing CEDA members and the aspiration is to more effectively involve non-members in future surveys to present an even broader snapshot of industry sentiment. Conscious of ‘survey burnout’, there are no immediate plans to conduct another membership poll, although issue-specific questions could be circulated by the association to efficiently harvest industry opinion.
Thanking respondents for taking the time to complete the membership survey, Dr Lee concluded that: “When taking decisions, the Strategy Commission always tries to bear in mind ‘what the survey said’. As such, it has proven to be a valuable source of information and will continue to shape the organisation's evolution over the coming years”.
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