DOES TECHNOLOGY IMPROVE MENTORING OUTCOMES?
Rey Carr

Many enquiries to Peer Resources pertain to identifying an effective method for matching mentors with partners and managing the relationships. In the last five years a number of organizations have developed specialized software or technology solutions to aid in connecting mentors and partners, tracking the relationships, and reporting and assessing the outcomes.

The data about the effectiveness of technological systems is far from compelling. In fact, published research is relatively silent about software-based or system-based matching and management of mentoring. The individual companies responsible for their own technological innovations typically provide supportive anecdotal data or testimonials they have gathered, but at present there are no independent, objective assessments.

In 2006 Peer Resources initiated a project to counter the lack of data. We intended to identify and assess the value of each of the various technology-aided mentoring management systems. However, circumstances prevented us from completing the data gathering, interviews, and review process.

The Top Ten Criteria
Since that initial intention, we've modified our direction. Rather than evaluating each system, we've developed, with the help of the team at TripleCreek (one of the systems), a set of 10 criteria that can be used to assess each system. These are intended to used as questions that potential users can ask each vendor. The answers to these questions (or lack of answers in some cases) can be used to determine which vendors provide a viable system to meet user needs. In addition, we expect the questions (or criteria) will themselves help potential users know what they need to know to make a decision about which system will be best for them. (The Top Ten Criteria appear at the end of this list).

Our list only includes companies that sell their technology or make their matching system part of a more comprehensive mentoring management system. Our list does not include organizations that use computerized matching exclusively to match the mentors and partners in their own in-house systems.

Many of the companies listed here provide demonstration versions of their systems. They all include an emphasis on the ability of their systems to be custom-designed to fit the needs of their clients. Only one organization provides any basic pricing information on their website. If any Peer Resources Network members have experience with these companies or if you know of companies that provide similar services that are not listed below, please let us know.

Company Name and Location
Name of Technology Developed
Website, Email, Phone
MentorMe
(Memphis, TN)
"MentorMe" www.getmentorme.com
hey@getmentorme.com
(901) 317-3242
Uncommon Individual Foundation
(Villanova, PA)
"Mentorsphere" www.mentorsphere.com
info@uif.org
TMC The Mentoring Connection, Inc.
(Prince William, VA)
"The Mentoring Connection (TMC) Web-Based Tool" www.thementoringconnection.com
kdrahosz@thetrainingconnection.com
(703) 551-0734
The Coaching and Mentoring Network
(Oxford, UK)
"Mentor Matching Software" http://tinyurl.com/9s4j48
info@coachingnetwork.org.uk
+44 (0)870 733 3313
Nobscot Corporation
(Kaiula, HI)
"Mentor Scout" www.mentorscout.com
sales@nobscot.com
(808) 263-3800
Management Mentors
(Boston, MA)
"MentoringComplete" www.management-mentors.com
rpetrin@management-mentors.com
(617) 789-4622
River (Formerly Triple Creek Associates)
(Greenwood Village, CO)
"Modern Mentoring" www.riversoftware.com
randy.emelo@riversoftware.com
(303) 707-0800 or (866) 470-1603
MentorResources
(Mill Valley, CA)
"WisdomShare" www.mentorresources.com
info@mentorresources.com
(415) 380-0918
Innovative Technology Solutions
(Buffalo, MN)
"Innovative Mentoring Software" www.innovativetechsolutions.net
info@innovativetechsolutions.net
(612) 221-7019
Talentnova (formerly Intrainfinity)
(Scotts Valley, CA & Toronto, ON)
"MentorMatch" www.talentnova.com
info@talentnova.com
(844) 515-8069
iMentor(not available as of September 2011)
(New York, New York)
"iMentor Interactive" (no longer available) www.imentor.org
info@imentor.org
(212) 461-4330
CiviCore
(Denver, Colorado)
"MentorCore" (Formerly MentorPRO) www.civicore.com
info@civicore.com
(303) 477-0900
America Learns Tutoring and Mentoring Programs
(Los Angeles, California)
"Performance Measurement & Learning Network" americalearns.net
gary@americalearns.net
(310) 689-0542
Chronus Corporation
(Redmond, Washington)
"Chronus Mentor" chronus.com/products
info@chronus.com
(800) 515-1206
Insala
(US, Europe, South Africa, Sweden)

"Hi-Impact Mentoring" www.insala.com
info@insala.com
(817) 355-0939 (Texas)
Fidelis Education
(San Francisco)

"Learning Relationship Management" www.insala.com
jeremy@fidelis-inc.com
(650) 397-5032
Life Moxie Mentoring and Leadership
(Red Bank, New Jersey)

"Smart Mentoring Platform" www.lifemoxie.com
mentoring@lifemoxie.com
(888) 676-6943
sfG Software
(Inverness, United Kingdom)

"MentorNet" www.sfgmentornet.com
info@sfgmentornet.com
01463 630200
eMentorConnect
(San Francisco, CA & Atlanta, GA)

"Protege" www.ementorconnect.com
info@ementorconnect.com
(855) 363-6867
MentorCity
(Toronto, Canada)

"MentorCity" www.mentorcity.com
info@mentorcity.com
(888) 532-7503 or (647) 983.6670
Prositions
(Urbandale, Iowa)

"MentorString" www.prositions.com
frussell@prositions.com
(515) 864-7200
eweblife
(Urbandale, Iowa)

"eMentorLife" www.eweblife.com
maureen@eweblife.com
(214) 642-8027

The Top Ten Criteria to Assess Mentor Software
(Developed with the help of the team at TripleCreek)

1. The software should be able to be configured by the organization to accommodate:

  • Demographic profile fields;
  • Competency/skill sets and frameworks;
  • Logo/branding;
  • Privacy Statement;
  • Click-through Agreement for users;
  • Single Sign-on (SSO) for authentication; and
  • Integration with other systems of record via a secure data push process.

2. The software needs to meet stringent security requirements (such as hosted in a SSAE 16 Type II environment).

3. Users need to be able to profile themselves on demographic/work history information and level-set their experience related to the competency/skill framework(s) that were configured by the organization.

4. Both users and administrators need to be able to create intentional learning engagements (w/defined goals and timeframes) via a guided workflow process, with the ability to:

  • Set the engagements as private (invite-only) or public (open and available for anyone to join);
  • Allow for participation in the engagements to be of any size, ranging from traditional one-to-one connections to groups of 100 or more; and
  • Make the connections in a variety of ways (such as self-directed, administrator-matched, or facilitated by another third-party such as one’s manager).

5. The software should have an integrated algorithm that makes smart recommendations to users regarding engagements and users that they might be interested in joining/connecting with based on their competency/skill profiles and powers a search function that allows users to search for:

  • Engagements to join.
  • Users to connect with; and
  • Resources and content within public engagements to read/access.

6. The software should automatically send notifications that direct users to take necessary actions (such as email asking a user to respond to an invitation to join an engagement).

7. Users need to have the ability to collaborate with others in their engagements by leveraging the following types of collaboration utilities:

  • Discussion threads (posts and responses);
  • Questions – ability to ask questions and have a thread of responses;
  • Events – ability to create events (such as a web-conference) with other participants;
  • Resources – ability to share resources (such as white papers, articles, links) with other participants;
  • To-Dos – ability to assign and track tasks; and
  • Polls – ability to ask poll questions of other engagement participants.

8. The software should allow users to provide feedback in multiple ways:

  • Evaluating the effectiveness of engagements;
  • Indicating competency/skill gains over time; and
  • Providing positive/appreciative feedback to other users around their participation.

9. The software should include robust administrative reporting that provides business intelligence on both usage/activity (snapshot and over time) and organizational impact (such as competency improvements, engagement effectiveness). This type of intelligence should be available via standard reports and data export capabilities.

10. The software should be available in multiple languages to assist with use across the workforce for global organizations.
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