Funeral Services Master Business Administration (FUSEMBA)

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1 Funeral Services Master Business Administration (FUSEMBA) Final Report Public Part

2 Project information Project acronym: Project title: Project number: Sub-programme or KA: Project website: FUSEMBA Funeral Services Master Business Administration Cooperation between Universities and Enterprises Reporting period: From 01/10/2007 To 30/09/2009 Report version: 1 Date of preparation: 20/12/2009 Beneficiary organisation: Serveis Funeraris de Barcelona, SA Project coordinator: Josep Anton Diaz Project coordinator organisation: Serveis Funeraris de Barcelona, SA Project coordinator telephone number: Project coordinator address: This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein Copyright Education, Audiovisual & Culture Executive Agency. The document may be freely copied and distributed provided that no modifications are made, that the source is acknowledged and that this copyright notice is included.

3 Executive Summary Funeral companies across Europe, in particular Small and Mid-Size companies (SMEs), are facing enormous challenges because of the liberalisation of the market, changing legislation, and socio-cultural changes. FUSEMBA: Funeral Services Master Business Administration (FUSEMBA) is a project aimed to make a new generation of European managers in the funeral service sector more market-skilled and business-oriented to address these challenges. This Report summarizes FUSEMBA s actions during the lifetime of the project. Targeted readers include the Lifelong Learning Programme: Erasmus - Jean Monnet, Education, Audiovisual & Culture Executive, the project partners and the general public. FUSEMBA designed, developed and is currently delivering a unique 800-hour MBA in Funeral Services, using an innovative blended learning approach (on-line and face-to-face learning) in 5 different European countries: Spain, France, Italy, Germany, UK. This MBA and the project partnership are the platforms by which FUSEMBA has worked to reach its other main objectives: to incorporate the most modern techniques in management, marketing and communication in the European funeral sector; and, to help channel creativity and unify criterions (legislation, quality, competency ) in training among funeral companies. Key Target Users of FUSEMBA include: Learners, professionals and consultants in the field; SMEs; the European Federation of Funeral Services (EFFS) and National Associations; policy makers; other stakeholders in the media and industry; and, the real beneficiaries of this project - European families in need of standardized, quality services. FUSEMBA s partnership includes 4 funeral companies in Spain, Italy, France and Germany, one university in Spain, plus the participation of one associate partner in the UK. The partners combine funeral service expertise with special know-how in e learning and MBA course design and delivery. The key approaches used in FUSEMBA involved close enterprise and university cooperation to ensure a demand-based design and development of the MBA, and the supply-based participation of the partners and the MBA co-sponsor, the EFFS and its network, to help ensure widespread promotion and exploitation of the offer. FUSEMBA s major results include the successful launching of the first MBA program , involving 17 students and 15 funeral companies from 5 European countries; the forward-looking experience of enterprise-university cooperation; the dynamic, multilingual webpage, taking advantage of RSS feeds, podcast and You Tube technologies; the original Master Plan for the on-line and face-to-face MBA, the creation of 4 e-learning Modules and an integrated Business Game for 600 hours of on-line learning; 5 sets of Work Package Reports; 5 Project Meetings, one Final Conference, and participation in a range of national and international conferences, expos and trade fairs, press and media events, reaching over audiences (potential students, funeral companies, stakeholders).

4 Table of Contents 1. PROJECT OBJECTIVES PROJECT APPROACH PROJECT OUTCOMES & RESULTS PARTNERSHIPS PLANS FOR THE FUTURE CONTRIBUTION TO EU POLICIES... 14

5 1. Project Objectives As stated above, the objectives of FUSEMBA are to: Incorporate the most modern techniques in management, marketing and communication in the European funeral sector; Help to channel creativity and unify criterions in training (about legislation, quality, competency, among others) among funeral companies; Develop an 800-hour Funeral Services Master Business Administration, combining face-to-face training with on-line approaches, for the education and training of specialists in funeral services that starts October 1, 2008 and ends June 30, Sponsors for the MBA are the Institute for Lifelong Learning University of Barcelona and the European Federation of Funeral Services (EFFS). The benefits of FUSEMBA can be seen in a variety of communities of users: First, students in the MBA will benefit from: Increased knowledge on management in a competitive environment; Learning to analyze the economic environment to detect and evaluate the influence of changes; Applying accounting techniques to analyze accounting methods and cycles, annual accounts, results, solvency analysis, generation of monetary flows, cost control and calculation, and break-even points; Integrating financial techniques to obtain funding; Gaining expertise in current marketing policies and strategies; Learning to integrate managerial and commercial tools; Incorporating human resource management tools in a modernising enterprise; Contextualising the specific characteristics of each country inside the legal and quality frameworks of the EU; Elaborating a competitive and modern Business Plan. Second, FUSEMBA Consortium members and its UK partner, along with participating authors, teachers and tutors will: Gain close-up knowledge and practical experience on the latest techniques and methods for operating competitive funeral companies; Improve their institutional Human Resources through the sharing of Good Practices and the formal and informal learning opportunities offered in the project; Improve their respective professional reputations and widen their networks through national and international awareness-raising and dissemination activities. Third, European Stakeholders (EU and others national public institutions) will benefit from: The project s international cooperation to move towards improving a much-needed standardization of service in the sector throughout the EU; The added opportunities for promoting Vocational Education and Training in other sectors to become more closely related to a higher education level. In sum, the benefits will return to the funeral companies and national associations themselves given that, as the graduated students incorporate new management techniques

6 that make services and quality improve, the funeral service sector across Europe will improve in its competitiveness and quality, which, in turn, will address the needs of the real beneficiaries of this project - European families who are in need of standardized, quality services in the funeral sector.

7 2. Project Approach The FUSEMBA project approach was two-folded: on the one hand, it was based on the funeral company partners active participation in national and international networks, like the EFFS, so as to keep up-to-date on the funeral service market needs and opportunities; and, on the other hand, it was based on these companies close collaboration with the Institute for Lifelong Learning University of Barcelona, for expertise on e-learning and course design for the joint creation and promotion of this unique MBA, the first of its kind in the European domain. This close enterprise and university cooperation helped ensure a) the demand-based design and development of the MBA; and, b) the supply-based participation of the partners and the MBA co-sponsor, the EFFS and its network, for support and wide-ranging promotion. The added value of this approach has manifested itself many ways: First, it is promoting a European vision of the funeral sector in a way that cuts years off more traditional education, training and networking actions. Students, by way of working on-line through the Forum and getting training in different EU countries by experts have been able to speed up their learning curves thanks to the intensive sharing of experiences and knowledge in the MBA. In addition, the MBA s Business Plan, which each student must complete and defend before the MBA tribunal, requires each student to work in a team, a trans-national team, taking advantage of these experiences. The Business Plan is the opportunity for each future manger to strengthen his/her respective networks, build a practical approach for his/her company s future competitiveness, while gaining a European-wide perspective on all trends and challenges in the sector. Second, this MBA is helping to improve the way the funeral businesses are run, in actual practice, across Europe. Current students are enjoying the possibility of applying new ideas and know-how to deal with the demands that the liberalisation of the sector and competition is presenting. This MBA is helping small and medium-sized funeral companies, rooted to a municipality or a region, to incorporate new business administration techniques, deepen contacts with other European partners, and broaden business minds in order to promote a European vision in funeral service management. This includes having to deal with legislation that, sometimes, impedes the growth of small and medium size companies and having to recognize that a new European-wide approach is needed. In this way, the MBA is helping to build European funeral companies knowledge of such legislation and help set the bases for cooperative approaches to improve the normative base in Europe. Third, FUSEMBA s methodology has helped to reinforce the idea of a European-wide funeral market. Not only does the methodology combine on-line and face-to-face learning and the exchange of new ideas, it also opens the way for greater convergence of teaching methods, for increased international cooperation, and for the development of skills needed for funeral companies to operate in an increasingly competitive international environment. Last, FUSEMBA is helping to break down cultural taboos and institutional barriers. Funeral companies, especially small, family-run businesses, have been traditionally rather closed as regards sharing business information with other companies and non-funeral service institutions. Up to now, they have also not developed a systematic approach towards universities to get higher education and training consultation to help them deal with the challenges facing themselves and their sector. At the same time, higher education institutions have likewise avoided the topic of funeral service management, partly because of its Vocational Education and Training connotations, and partly due to the subject matter dealing with death. But business administration education is business administration education: the possible synergies with other management offers in health and other sectors

8 are promising. As such, the FUSEMBA project has helped bring the demands of funeral service management and the offers of an HEI closer together. The evaluation strategy, approach and results expected are described in continuation: FUSEMBA project applied both internal and external evaluation tools with the aim of ensuring that the project s processes and products maintained the highest possible quality. These included questionnaires and analysis on the design of the MBA, peer review of all partners work, student feedback on the on-line and face-to-face sessions, content and teaching staff, and opinions from members of the EFFS. Based on this feedback, improvements were introduced by the project partners and the MBA director. It should be noted here that although the actual delivery of the MBA is outside the project s funding, such feedback has been nevertheless linked to the quality of the final design of the MBA. FUSEMBA s dissemination and exploitation strategies and activities were directed towards the post-ec funding sustainability of the project s results. On the one hand, FUSEMBA s Dissemination focused on providing information about the project, in particular the MBA offers, to potential students, the EFFS membership and national associations, and to other key stakeholders in the funeral sector. On the other hand, Exploitation focused on a) convincing future managers and SME funeral companies to join or support the EC-sponsored creation of the MBA programme now and beyond the project lifetime; b) making this international MBA a successful, attractive option for sponsorship, public-company financing and scholarship opportunities; and, c) reaching and influencing relevant decision-makers in national and EC domains about the much-needed modernization of the sector across Europe. The main methods were: Promoting the MBA offer for both and the courses in press, on the internet and in face-to-face meetings with funeral companies, potential students and sponsors; Distributing project and MBA information, including leaflets and MBA promotional information, in English, Spanish, German, Italian and French the languages of the FUSEMBA Consortium and its UK partner; Maximising the use of media (radio and TV) and ICT (podcasts, RSS, You Tube) for attracting, engaging and informing audiences; Informing and inviting all EFFS members, national funeral associations and relevant EC authorities to get involved in FUSEMBA and the MBA, taking advantage of international meetings, trade fairs and conferences to create opinion, generate interest and seek new ways of building on the project s results; Extending promotion of the MBA outside the European Union to attract audiences from the rest of Europe, Australia, Japan and other countries in Asia, plus North and South America and Africa; Offering project recommendations to relevant decision-makers based on the project s results and experiences; Publishing and promoting a public version of these recommendations, inviting feedback that can help create a wider community of interested users of the project s results and the MBA. The results are shown in the Project Final Report and in the various Work Package Final Reports. Non-confidential results are published here.

9 3. Project Outcomes & Results As many readers will know, European Commission-sponsored projects are normally broken down into Work Packages (WPs), where the roles, responsibilities, tasks by each partner and results are set for achieving project goals. The major achievements and results of each WP are shown below, WP by WP. WP 1 Management: the leader is Serveis Funeraris de Barcelona, SA (SFBSA) In order to achieve Project Management objectives, SFBSA developed a set of management and communication tools (templates, reporting guidelines, Minutes, glossary of terms, administration and financial problem-solving procedures, and partner contact list) in order ensure good university-funeral company communications on all aspects of the project. It led 5 Project Meetings, in Paris (November 2007), Münnerstadt (February 2008), and Bologna (May 2008), and 2 in Barcelona (March and October 2009). It also participated in 2 EACEA Project Coordinators meetings in Brussels (2008, 2009), where it gained useful knowledge on Dissemination and Exploitation and sustainability actions. SFBSA worked closely with the other partners to ensure the webpage was up-to-date, with translations in all partner languages. It led the development of the project Consortium Agreement, the solution on Intellectual Property Rights, and the incorporation of the UK partner institution, the British Institute of Embalmers, with the support and consensus of all. It led the organization for the Final Conference, convening both radio and TV coverage, plus was responsible for delivering all project reporting. WP 2 Direction and Design of Contents: the leader is the Institute for Lifelong Learning University of Barcelona (IL3-UB) IL3-UB developed the conceptual, instructional and graphic design for the FUSEMBA MBA. This included the training action (work plan, objectives, calendar, multimedia contributions, evaluation system and tutorial system) of the 800-hours MBA. It defined the online training of 400 hours, deployed via 4 different modules, plus the Business Game, and the design of 5 face-to-face sessions. FUSEMBA not only includes extensive online teaching and tutoring, but it also uses innovative communication technologies to enhance the education and training experience to help prepare specialists in funeral services to meet the challenges of an evolving European-wide market. MBA Course Description: The following describes the percentage of time per study stage in the MBA, including the indicative description for the face-to-face sessions in each country. STAGE APPROXIMATE LENGTH (IN HOURS) ONLINE 360 HOURS (45%) ON SITE 240 HOURS (30%) BUSINESS GAME 80 HOURS (10%) DISSERTATION 120 HOURS (15%) 80 online and 40 in situ ON SITE 1 on site study week in each of the five countries. Monday to Saturday, 8 hours - Total = 8 x 6 x 5 = 240 hours 4 classroom hours in the morning 4 practical hours in the afternoon

10 One on site study week at IL3 (40 hours, Monday to Friday, 8 hours per day), blending face-to-face inputs, tutorials, presentations, open discussions and the closing event. The following describes the Modules and structure of the MBA in the Management of Funeral Services MODULE TITLE STRUCTURE 1 STRATEGY AND ECONOMICS IN FUNERAL SERVICE FIRMS 2 COMMERCIAL DISTRIBUTION, MARKETING AND COMMUNICATION 3 HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT AND MANAGEMENT SKILLS 4 SPECIFIC CHARACTERISTICS OF THE FUNERAL SECTOR 100 HOURS ONLINE 30 HOURS IN SITU 80 HOURS ONLINE 30 HOURS IN SITU 120 HOURS ONLINE 60 HOURS ONLINE 180 HOURS IN SITU 5 BUSINESS GAME 80 HOURS ONLINE 6 DISSERTATION (BUSINESS PLAN) 80 HOURS ONLINE 40 HOURS IN SITU As regards Staff, IL3-UB (the MBA Director) worked with the partners to select teachers and authors for FUSEMBA education and training. Working together, IL3-UB and SFBSA have developed the plan and logistics for Week One of the practical session in Barcelona in October IL3-UB also produced the Final Report on Work Package 2, which includes a more detailed description of the above. WP3 Creation of On-Line Materials: the leader is the Institute for Lifelong Learning University of Barcelona (IL3-UB) IL3-UB produced 4 on-line Modules: Business Management and Company Finance; Commercial Marketing and Distribution; Human Resource Management; and, Specific Features of the Funeral Sector. It also prepared the technical requirements, the on-line methodology, the author s guide for this on-line content creation. It led the accord on the Intellectual Property Rights and produced the Final Report on Work Package 3, which includes a more detailed description of these results. WP 4 Dissemination: the leader is French Confederation for Funeral Services Professionals (CPFM) CPFM developed the Dissemination Plan with all partners, which determined the working parameters and approach for the successful dissemination of the project. The aim was to motivate not only current users, Institutions or individuals, but also to support the development and delivery of the MBA course and to help guarantee its sustainability. Key results here included the multilingual website, with RSS feeds, the podcast and You Tube video, the promotional leaflet and various MBA Promotional releases in each country. At national and international conferences, expos and trade fairs, and through the press and media, FUSEMBA reached over audiences (potential students, funeral companies, stakeholders). CPFM also produced the Report on Work Package 4, which includes a more detailed description of these results. A screen shot of the website follows (the address is

11 WP 5 Exploitation: the leader is Italian National Federation of Funeral Directors (FeNIOF) FeNIOF developed the Exploitation Plan, which aimed to attract and engage audiences in the partner countries and across the EU, with a view towards the future multiplication and mainstreaming of the project s results. The plan described FUSEMBA s efforts to convince other funeral companies and national and international funeral associations, that the training and the quality of FUSEMBA s MBA is valuable, unique and capable of growth. It also pointed the way ahead for applying its innovative methods and enterprise-university approach for other sectors across Europe, especially for higher education training in vocational occupations. The plan also involved the partners lobbying, via the EFFS and relevant EC DGs on legislation affecting the funeral service sector, including health and environmental issues. Some of the principal results are shown in Part 5 of this Report. FeNIOF also produced the Final Report on Work Package 5, which includes a more detailed description of these results. WP 6 Quality and Evaluation Plan: leader is Bundesverband Deutscher Bestatter e.v. (BDBEV) BDBEV led the development of the Quality and Evaluation Plan, which described the project s approach and concrete steps for ensuring quality across the board: from the project s administrative and managerial work processes to all aspects of FUSEMBA s education and training offer. The Plan included procedures for reporting, quality control and review of all work, including checklists and corrective actions. BDBEV, working closely with Project Management, also made available a set of useful administration information to all partners (Minutes of Project meetings, contact list, Work Package templates, and questionnaires). It produced the Report on Work Package 6, which includes a more detailed description of these results. For more information about FUSEMBA project, the partnership and the MBA, go to FUSEMBA at For more information about FUSEMBA project, contact Project Coordinator, Josep Anton Diaz (SFBSA), at

12 4. Partnerships The added value of FUSEMBA s multi-country partnership can be seen in many aspects. First, there is the unifying usage of a common language, English, to develop the project and develop the MBA. English is, by defacto, the international language channelling the liberalisation of the marketplace and the way competition is being played out. Not only is the common language helping to improve each partners talents in communication, management and marketing, it is also helping them to unify their collective abilities to drive modernization in the sector. Second, there is the variety of richness in know-how and knowledge derived from the partnership s diversity within, both technically and geographically. Indeed, the funeral sector and how businesses run varies greatly country to country. The project therefore designed the MBA to take advantage of the specialities of each partner, which helped enable students learn valuable techniques and practices thanks to the exposure to this diversity in the sector. Indeed, this distribution of study topics helped enable students to gain a deeper, Europeanwide perspective on modern management techniques. It also helped the companies themselves to harmonize criteria for quality and customer service. Third, there is added value in the pivotal involvement of the funeral companies themselves as members in larger bodies (the EFFS and National Associations). Through their membership, they have been able to sensitise other Associations and European stakeholders of the possibilities for greater European-wide cooperation and the opportunities for developing win-win initiatives, using FUSEMBA as a platform. Fourth, the enterprise-university partnership opens up a variety of future growth possibilities. For IL3-UB, this means creating an advanced-level vocational training offer that has the recognition of an MBA based on smart, specific funeral company inputs. This unique MBA offer enables the university to link it to its other higher education offers in the fields of health, pharmacy, and culture and society. For the private sector partners, the experience of this partnership helps raise awareness of the roles and responsibilities of the European Commission Lifelong Learning Programme, its expectations, goals and direction. The benefits of partnerships with groups outside the Consortium and the UK partner can be found in the consolidation of a European-wide approach for the funeral service sector and in increase of a critical mass of opinion. Whereas previously, the partners operated in a segmented fashion in different working groups in the EFFS such as the Committee of Cemeteries and Cremation Working Committee, Committee of International Transportation and others inside the EFFS, through FUSEMBA they have been able to operate more and more as a consolidated force.

13 5. Plans for the Future FUSEMBA s plans for the future build on the Consortium Agreement of the partnership (including the IPR agreement) and the exploitation of the MBA modular approach, both for on-line and face-to-face delivery. The main lines of action include: Updating FUSEMBA s program to provide students (majority of them already professionals) with a global/complete MBA program. Continuing to create new modular training opportunities, new training products, niche offers, simulations, podcasts, multimedia resources, which can be sponsored by institutions and companies involved in the funeral service sector. Adapting the existing MBA, and any of its resources, to local contexts (local languages), which can then be easily updated and sold as one-off products or form part of intensive workshops. Key purchasers for these resources can come from the private sector stakeholders, which have strong links with the EFFS and its respective national associations. Organizing annual meetings with media and stakeholders and contests to prize the best projects, practices and future plans within the sector in the European Market. (Communication Agencies can organize Oscars in the funerary sector, for example.) Developing a program of scholarships for European and non-european students (not just from the partners associations and the EFFS but from the private sector). Linking FUSEMBA to other education and training packages in other fields for the greater recognition of the existence of jobs in the funeral sector; for enabling learners to follow different learning paths according to their job objectives; and, for ensuring cross-recognition of relevant qualifications thereby enabling workers to move from job to job and employers to seek workers from a larger talent pool. Working with other lifelong learning institutions and universities to articulate the relevant VET, undergraduate degree, post-graduate degree kinds of learning paths for the Funeral Service sector.

14 6. Contribution to EU policies The FUSEMBA project is contributing to advances being made in the Lifelong Learning Programme and to work being done on Lisbon Key Competences, in particular Entrepreneurship. As regards the Lisbon Key Competences, FUSEMBA is incorporating the most modern techniques in management, marketing and communication in the European funeral domain, helping to enable participants (graduates as well as non-graduates of university who have demonstrated equivalent experience in the field) to gain the necessary business management skills in order to improve the way funeral business are run. Offering an advanced training program in funeral services, FUSEMBA is contributing to the partners and participants entrepreneurial know-how and skills base so that they can manage the liberalisation of the sector, deal with new developments in legislation and adapt to cultural, societal changes across Europe. In this way, FUSEMBA addresses the Specific Objective of the Lifelong Learning Program, which is based on promoting creativity, competitiveness, employability and the growth of an entrepreneurial spirit. Indeed, FUSEMBA is a practical example of this. The MBA serves as a resource for building lifelong learning skills not only for those in the funeral service business, but also for those teachers/experts in the field. It focuses on strengthening the links between academia and jobs and on promoting business inputs into academic course design and content development. FUSEMBA also addresses the Operational and Specific Objectives of the Lifelong Learning Programme, which is to improve the quality and to increase the volume of cooperation between higher education and Institutions and enterprises. FUSEMBA is based on the enterprise-academic cooperation between IL3-UB and funeral companies in 5 different EU countries (including UK). The high quality MBA design and development processes and products derive from the university s long experience in developing and delivering advanced training programmes, face-to-face and on-line. The quality and volume of cooperation derive from the many different inputs from international funeral service experts. Furthermore, the project offers a model for university-enterprise cooperation: that is, FUSEMBA can be a source for future initiatives, a starting point for new exchanges and cooperation between higher education institutions and enterprises, for the development of higher education and vocational training programs for other EU-wide sectors with similar training needs. Finally, FUSEMBA addresses one of the Lifelong Learning Programme s 2007 priorities, which is to transfer innovations from vocational education training (VET) to the academic domain of higher education (HE) and vice-versa. FUSEMBA is creating innovative vocational training solutions based on higher education standards. As funeral companies are transferring to the University their experiences to set up and promote the project and the MBA, the University is contributing its on-line methodological and resource development and deployment expertise to enable part-time students across Europe in the funeral service sector to work together, following a calendar that does not obstruct their daily jobs.

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