You never know where a good idea might come from. Sometimes, it may be serendipity. Other times, it’s an hours long brainstorming session. Ideas may come from the top of an organisation, or maybe a new hire with a fresh perspective is brave enough to ask…
Organisations need fresh ideas to succeed and improve. Knowing this, good leaders are always trying to promote a culture of innovation and idea generation among their workforce. The problem, however, lies in managing the ideas your people generate.
Everyone has thoughts but…
- how do you give them all a voice?
- how do you follow up on good ideas or validate which ones are worth pursuing?
- how do you keep someone’s innovative idea from falling to the wayside when everyone is too busy doing the job and has no time to chase innovation?
These are the problems that an idea management software can solve for you and your organisation.
Idea management software is exactly what it sounds like. While idea management platforms come in many different shapes and forms, they all serve the same basic purpose: they are a tool for organisations to collaborate, collect, evaluate, and implement innovative ideas that are produced by their workforce. Because innovation and improvement matters to everyone, any organisation across all market sectors can benefit from these platforms.
When Is Idea Management Software Important
If you have been a part of any organisation in years past, you may remember the good old fashioned suggestion box. Usually a simple little box sitting in the employee break room or hung outside the manager’s office where people could anonymously write down ideas and thoughts, suggestion boxes are really the original idea management tools.
If you lead a small business, you might get away with using a similar model to collect ideas from your members. However, what happens when you have a hundred employees? Or a thousand? What if they are not all located in one common space where they can leave notes in a box? Before long, some voices fall to the wayside, leaders don’t have time to sift through the handwritten notes, and the suggestion box becomes a burden for managers—a useless tool for employees.
It is easy to see how an organisation can benefit from a modern, 21st century solution to idea management as they grow and scale. You can think of idea management software as the modern solution to the old suggestion box, but that would be like calling the Titanic a row boat. The idea management platforms on the market today can do so much more than analog methods, resulting in massive benefits for any business.
Here are just a few ways that idea software can improve your organisation.
1. Market Dynamics
Every industry finds itself on the edge of revolution at some point or another. That is the natural progress of business. Idea management helps your organisation identify possible innovations and evaluate whether they are simply temporary trends or true transformations. Good idea management helps you stay up to date, relevant, and keyed in to key market changes so you can act wisely and early.
2. Staff Engagement
Several studies ranging from the private sector to the US Navy have shown that employees of nearly any organisation work best when they feel empowered and have a voice. When leadership fosters a culture where members know that their thoughts and ideas are taken into account by higher ups, staff engagement and work satisfaction increase. When your staff is happy and engaged, productivity also goes up while attrition rates (as well as training, recruitment, and hiring costs) go down.
3. Customer Experience
There is another benefit that results from an engaged staff: great customer service. Innovation and idea management create a chain of improvement that helps everyone from the executive to the customer. When employees have a voice in their organisation, they are happy to come to work. When employees are happy at work, customers take note as the atmosphere and culture improve.
Additionally, employees who serve customers on the front line often have ideas on how to improve customer service. Giving idea management tools to these employees immediately provides you an avenue to improve your customer experience.
4. Strategy Alignment
One of the biggest barriers to innovation and improvement within an organisation is when members of an organisation do not understand their leader’s strategic vision. Idea management tool is not a one way communication tool for employees to send ideas up – it is also a way for leadership to communicate with their workforce.
When leaders evaluate ideas and decide which ones to pursue, they are steering the organisation’s future and telling the workforce where the boss wants the company to be headed.
Idea management system also allows leaders to share organisational level challenges and solicit possible solutions from their workforce.
5. Revenue Generation and Efficiency
For most businesses, everything boils down to raising the bottom line. How is the company increasing revenue? Is the organisation being as efficient as possible? Where is the business spending excess funds?
Leaders and managers cannot be everywhere at all times, having visibility on every aspect of the organisation’s processes to see where improvements need to be made. Idea management platform increases a leader’s insight into how the business is running from the eyes of their members. This increased visibility then allows leaders to consider ways of upping efficiency (and therefore, revenue) in ways that they may not have considered before.
6. Better Collaboration and an established Innovation Process
Communication within any organisation is a challenge, and it only gets more difficult as a business grows. The tools that have built the foundation of communication in the 21st century – email, instant messaging, shareable text documents, and others – have increased ways to communicate but organisations still lack suitable ways to collaborate. There is a difference between forwarding long email chains and true brainstorming.
Idea management software solves this problem because their primary purpose is collaboration, nor mere communication. Good idea management platforms allow teams to think together and truly innovate as opposed to the back and forth nature of traditional communication platforms.
Having a dedicated tool that exists for the sole purpose of innovation and idea generation also tells your employees that they work in an organisation that cares about improvement and provides an easy, structured avenue for creating and submitting ideas that is understood by all.
How often have you, as an employee, had a good idea but did not know what to do with it, who to tell, or how to get it implemented? Having a dedicated platform in place removes those uncertainties that all too often kill a good idea.
Plus, it’s a lot better than a suggestion box.
Building an Idea Management Platform vs Buying One
Nearly every leader understands the importance of innovation. When it comes to idea management, however, the default response from most organisations may be to develop an internal process for handling ideas. If your organisation has software developers, it may be especially enticing to create your own platform as opposed to purchasing third party software. After all, purchasing an external platform is expensive, right?
Not necessarily. There are several benefits to utilising a SaaS solution for idea management as opposed to developing a system internally, and the upfront cost often yields a strong ROI.
For starters, using a third party is a ready-made solution that can be implemented immediately. Good platforms can also come with full support from a company that specialises solely in idea management. Purchasing dedicated software gives your organisation the benefits of having a fully trained innovation team, but without the cost of full-time hires.
Additionally, by relying on specialists, your own members and leaders have more time to focus on their primary job instead of dedicating resources to developing a new tool.
Why dedicate effort re-creating the wheel when there are professionals out there working full time to perfect and improve the process?
Buying an Idea Management Software
If you are convinced that an idea management platform is the right solution for your business, here are some things to keep in mind.
1. Where to Search
Before committing to a platform, it is important to do proper research first. Not all idea management software is created the same, and implementing a poorly built tool can end in frustration and distrust of future idea programs. Some good resources to begin reviewing idea management tools include Capterra, Gartner reports, Forrester research, and others.
Capterra and Softwareadvice, both part of the Gartner network, provide good, comprehensive reviews of SaaS platforms for businesses and publish industry reports on various tools including idea management software. While each site differs in the details, they all provide plain English explanations of popular software solutions, allowing the user to compare different platforms, costs, and features along with a list of customer reviews.
As with everything online, you should take the customer reviews with a grain of salt and consider your organisation’s particular use case and how it compares with that of the customers writing the review.
It is important to look at a few different sites, as one database will likely not have a comprehensive list of every idea management platform available. Outside the Gartner network, Financesonline is another option that can provide additional information and context on what is available. Financesonline uses slightly different models for evaluating the best software than the Gartner sites, so feel free to compare and contrast results.
Because idea management software can vary in quality and features, you will find a range of costs. Pricing models are typically set at a set fee per user, per month. Also, if you are a large business with thousands of employees, some platforms will offer significantly lower per user rates.
When looking at pricing options, be sure to look at what features are included at which price point. Some platforms may offer a limited set of features at a lucrative price while offering advanced features for additional monthly payments. When shopping around, be sure to understand what features your organisation needs.
Bottom line, you can expect the overall price to be dependent on the number of employees, length of the contract, and any additional services or customisations you may need.
On the other hand, if your organisation is smaller or you decide that a third party solution is not the right fit for your business, there are some viable alternatives to manage ideas on a smaller scale. These alternatives might be more time intensive and less effective than a fully featured platform, but they can still get the job done.
Beyond the old suggestion box method, some businesses utilise periodic staff surveys to collect ideas, consolidating them to a spreadsheet for leaders to evaluate.
A twist on the suggestion box is a community suggestion whiteboard, where employees can freely write down thoughts and ideas anonymously. Other passersby—to include managers and leaders—can read the board and add their own thoughts and responses to the ideas written, resulting in collaboration.
Live events and competitions
For businesses who really want to showcase innovation, organisations have put together quarterly “Sharktank” style innovation events where employees can get in front of an audience of their peers and explain an innovative idea to a panel of leaders in the organisation. At the end of the event, leaders pick which ideas to implement and sometimes reward the employees of the winning idea.
We at Idea Drop have a comprehensive Implementation Guide that can help get you started with integrating idea software as a regular process for your workforce. In this guide, we outline our eight-step plan to successfully get everything running with the buy in from your whole organisation.
Define your objectives
The first step to implementing any new tool, process, or program is to evaluate your key objectives. What challenges does your organisation face and what is your current method for innovating and implementing new ideas? How do you want that to improve? What is your workforce’s current level of engagement? What are some quantifiable short and long term goals for your business in implementing idea software?
Identify your key stakeholders
Once you have your goals clearly laid out, it’s time to consider some factors that will contribute to the shaping of your implementation plan. Primarily, you need to think about the size of your company and the industry you operate in. For example, innovation and change is significantly easier for small startups, whereas gaining innovative momentum in a large corporation is a much slower process.
After these factors have been considered, the next step is to appoint someone to spearhead the initiative. Having a clearly identifiable top-level sponsor is important as it shows the workforce that leadership is invested in the project and ensures a smooth execution process.
Along with this top-level leader, appointing members from each team or department within your organisation is equally as important so that every aspect of your business has a hand in shaping the implementation. These members can also provide working level insight to help determine the best execution methods.
In addition to the executive leader and members from across the company, any other possible stakeholders also need to be identified. This could include IT, HR, legal, or other roles that will need to be involved in order for the initiative to succeed.
Identifying these stakeholders early in the process ensures that the implementation team has all the resources and expertise they need to accomplish their mission with minimal obstacles.
Spread the word
Once you have all your members and resources in place, it’s time to start getting the word out. The workforce needs to be aware of the initiative if it’s going to be implemented successfully. Raising awareness with a good internal marketing strategy will help make any changes or transitions smooth and easy for everyone.
Finally, after everything is in place and your organisation is ready to move forward, you can proceed with testing the change. It’s wise to start out with a small pilot where you can measure successes and failures, and gather good feedback. That way, you can refine and improve the plan as you scale up, tackling problems before they have the chance to make large waves.
Before you know it, idea management will become second nature to everyone.
Other Use Cases
While every business should be using idea management to foster ongoing and continuous improvement, there are other cases where a management platform can be useful.
Special events, ad-hoc initiatives, and special projects that require time-bound brainstorming to plan things out can be improved through the use of idea management software.
If your organisation forms temporary teams, committees, or task forces to solve a specific challenge, these groups can also benefit from idea management and collaboration platforms to help organise their thoughts and identify plans to implement.
Any time your organisation needs to gather good ideas, these management platforms can help.
Real world organisations who use an Idea Management Software
Any organisation, no matter the market or sector, can benefit from idea management platforms like Idea Drop. We have partnered with both government offices and private businesses of all types to help them innovate and improve their operations.
1. Kent Police
The Kent Police force began using Idea Drop’s software in 2016. Since initial deployment, the UK’s police force has been able to implement over 425 ideas thanks to the easy to use and intuitive idea management platform with engagement from well over half the total workforce. These ideas have impacted and improved everything from policy and administrative procedures to increasing the wellbeing of front line officers.
One great thing about Idea Drop is its scalability to meet the needs and size of any organisation. BDO, a global professional service with nearly 75,000 employees scattered across 1,500 offices internationally, learned how Idea Drop can overcome complexity, size, and distance to achieve innovative solutions.
BDO began using Idea Drop in 2019 to form and connect diverse teams of “innovation builders” across their workforce. These teams are dedicated to helping manage and track innovation for senior leaders in a way that would otherwise be impossible in such a large and dispersed organisation. According to one of their employee, Idea Drop is a critical tool in giving everyone a voice.
Idea Drop has helped to create an inclusive and democratic innovation program that ensures good, innovative ideas are given the visibility they deserve across their global enterprise.
3. Other Success Stories
BDO and the Kent Police are just two examples of how idea management platforms like Idea Drop have helped improve processes and generate innovative practices in an organisation. We have dozens of case studies and examples across various industries that demonstrate Idea Drop’s value and successful partnerships. Read them here to see how idea management is more than just another tool, it’s a transformative way of doing business.
If idea management is something you want for your organisation, don’t hesitate to act. Every day, good ideas are being generated by your workforce and just waiting to be heard.
Contact us today to learn more about how idea management software can be implemented in your organisation and join the businesses all across the globe who are embracing innovation through Idea Drop.
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