You have done your research, chosen the software and now you are ready to implement an exciting new idea management platform into your organisation. Making the decision to boost your innovation output with such a software is only the beginning of your ideation journey. The next big challenge is to integrate it seamlessly into the very foundations of your business. Rather than a shiny new toy that fizzles out after a few months, an idea management platform needs to become part of the glue that binds your organisation together. An implementation strategy that leaves your employees thinking how on earth they functioned before the software was in place is the ultimate goal.
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A new idea management software implementation is about disrupting the status quo, breaking down bureaucratic barriers and encouraging openness to positive change. Easier said than done, such an approach requires structured planning and commitment from multiple stakeholders across the organisation. Visionary leadership that is dedicated to the aims and objectives of a revamped innovation strategy is key to ensuring successful implementation. Innovation equals change and this inevitably means resistance.
The implementation process must be about onboarding employees across the entire organisation. Your approach needs to be about shifting attitudes and changing the workplace culture. This is no mean feat, therefore a clear process and timeline must be established to increase the chances of success. For your innovation strategy to work, you need a structured programme in place – an innovation platform provides this structure but it must be rolled out in a way that maximises effectiveness and efficiency. In this white paper, we provide the essential steps needed to successfully and seamlessly integrate a new idea management software into your organisation.
Our cheat sheet to software implementation
1. Evaluation of key objectives
Every business is unique and there is no ‘one size fits all’ process for implementing a new software successfully. Nevertheless, the steps outlined in this white paper provide the basic foundations for a comprehensive process and can be easily adapted to your own requirements. In order to devise a bespoke plan, it is necessary to establish absolute clarity of your key business objectives, both in terms of the top-level goals and more innovation-specific aims. Begin by asking the following questions:
- What are your key short-term and long-term business objectives?
- What are the primary challenges that your organisation faces?
- How does your organisation currently innovate and implement new ideas to achieve goals?
- How does your organisation engage with employees and identify talent?
- What are the rewards and recognition processes in your organisation?
- What are the aims and objectives of implementing an idea management software?
These questions will help you to prioritise what is important to the business, as well as identify key touch points and challenge areas. Once your goals have been established, they can be aligned to the implementation process, helping to guide it in the most appropriate direction.
Examples of key objectives:
- Increase net profit margin by 15%
- Improve staff retention rates
- Drive higher turnover in specified divisions by 20% Increase market share by 5% by 2019
- Improve the effectiveness of marketing campaigns
- Establish the key objectives of your organisation and align the implementation process with these goals
- Framing the process in terms of key objectives will help push the initiative in the right direction
- Clear goals allow for transparency and can provide motivation to keep the process on track
2. Consider company size and industry
As well as establishing goals, it is also important to consider the industry and size of your organisation, as this will have a direct bearing on the implementation process. Often it is easier for startups and smaller companies to embrace change and new platforms, as these businesses are constantly on the cusp of growth and development. Change is therefore already hardwired into their culture and is more natural to them.
However, larger organisations tend to have numerous processes and structures that have been in place for many years. As a result, it is considerably harder to onboard the entire organisation in disrupting these systems. Such an endeavour requires knowledge, skills and a carefully considered plan. Despite these issues, larger organisations tend to have the advantage of available funding at their fingertips. Conversely, startups may not have all the resources they need to support both the process of implementation and the facilitation of new ideas.
Case study: Lear Corporation
With 140,000 staff across 240 locations, Lear Corporation required a large scale roll out of the Idea Drop software. Customisation of the platform specific to the needs and requirements of a company as large as Lear Corporation was key in aiding successful integration of the software.
- The key steps and approach to the implementation process will depend on the industry and company size
- Larger companies can find it harder to embrace change due to rigid structures and a fondness of the status quo
- Startups are hardwired to welcome change but can struggle with resources and funding for new softwares and systems
3. Appointing a top-level sponsor
The implementation of any change initiative within an organisation requires clearly identifiable sponsors who have a vested interest in the process. Identifying the key decision makers and acquiring their full backing will help to elevate the new software integration to a top-level priority. Backing from senior members of the organisation is absolutely necessary to facilitate a smooth execution process. According to a respondent of a Bain & Company survey:
Appoint a relevant top-level sponsor who can champion the implementation process and act as a role model and representative of the new platform. The chosen person should be senior enough to ensure that all appropriate resources and funding are in place, as well as be in a position to resolve any issues should they arise. As an executive sponsor, their primary role is to provide direction for the implementation process, keeping it on track and executed as planned. Although this person may not be involved with the day-to-day running of activities associated with the new idea management platform, their influence is nevertheless crucial.
Discover what senior leaders must do to drive and action innovation and realise the full potential of their business.
There is no need to appoint only one top-level sponsor; often it is effective to form a coalition of sponsors. The resulting team will establish a more powerful authority behind the new software, therefore providing stronger advocacy. With a comprehensive coalition of influential backers, implementation of an idea management platform will be significantly easier and more likely to be a roaring success.
Appoint a top-level sponsor to champion the implementation process
An executive sponsor should be senior enough to push forward the change initiative and influence stakeholders
Consider appointing a coalition of sponsors to add further authority and influence behind the process
4. Appointing team ambassadors
As well as the executive sponsors, it is also important to appoint ambassadors in each team or department. These champions should be influential individuals who have direct contact with the staff on the ground. Acting as moderators, they will help to facilitate the process and provide regular feedback on its progress. The primary aim of these stakeholders is to engage the staff and incentivise participation on an ongoing basis.
There are different types of innovators within any organisation, from those too shy to participate to those overflowing with confident ideas. The job of a team ambassador is to motivate all staff to play an active part in the innovation process. Ultimately, everyone has ideas and therefore everyone is an innovator; sometimes people just need some encouragement and a push in the right direction.
Selecting the right people for the task off team moderator is key. One of the greatest barriers in appointing ambassadors is a perception that they are too busy to carry such a responsibility. However, crucially these ambassadors should see the process as a way of achieving their goals and furthering their own agenda, not as an additional burden to their workload. Furthermore, there should be an emphasis on providing long-term value as an innovation ambassador. This is not a temporary role for the implementation period; they must focus on sustaining participation and engagement with the new software for the foreseeable future of the company.
Appoint team ambassadors to act as moderators for staff across all departments
Ambassadors should act as influencers and incentivise engagement with the new platform
The role should be framed as a way of helping staff achieve goals, not as an additional workload burden
5. Identifying other key stakeholders
Aside from the team ambassadors, you will need to consider what other stakeholders need to be involved in the implementation process. From IT and legal to HR and marketing, ensure that all the necessary people are onboarded and have transparency over the process and timeline. Every stakeholder requires absolute clarity regarding their roles and responsibilities so that all departments can work together in a productive manner to maximise the breadth of knowledge from across the organisation. The table on the right is an example of the various stakeholders who could potentially be involved in the process and their corresponding responsibilities.
Providing clarification around these roles ensures transparency and provides the appropriate motivation for each individual to execute their responsibilities. Ultimately, these stakeholders hold the key to successful employment of a new idea management platform and must be given all necessary resources to allow them to go about their required involvement with the process. There is a difference between letting an initiative happen and making it happen. Stakeholders must be aligned with the latter and be incentivised to sustain their responsibilities on a long-term basis.
Identify all key stakeholders across the organisation and consider all departments, from IT to HR
Ensure that everyone is clear about the different stakeholders and their corresponding responsibilities
Stakeholders should be incentivised to carry out their responsibilities to ensure successful implementation
6. Raising awareness with marketing and communications
Raising awareness of a new product or software is key, but in a large organisation, how do you broadcast details of the initiative to everyone?
Adopting a marketing perspective is crucial to preparing your organisation for the implementation of a new platform. Underestimate the importance of this preparation and you are likely to face resistance from employees. Although the key stakeholders are likely to already be heavily invested in the initiative, the greatest challenge is onboarding the remainder of the organisation. Remember that the stakeholders are likely to have spent a lot of time researching the new software, nurturing it from concept to implementation. To them it is exciting and has the potential to be very successful but it is not always easy to convey this excitement across all departments and to every individual.
A marketing plan should not only inform and educate, it should also incentivise and generate buzz. For the implementation to be a success, you do not just need staff to go along with the process, you need them to be actively engaged and participating. When people are busy, this takes careful persuasion and it is important to emphasise the benefits that the new software will bring, not only to the organisation as a whole, but to each individual worker.
Outline the goals and processes in a clear and accessible format to avoid confusion or misunderstanding. Emphasise that an idea management platform will make their lives easier and will create a new, exciting workplace culture that is more open, collaborative and innovative.
Broadcasting details of the new idea management software is key to ensuring participation
Adopt a marketing perspective to onboard employees across the organisation
Emphasise how the new platform will make their lives easier and outline these benefits
7. Developing an internal marketing strategy
Devise an internal communications plan as early as possible so you can ensure that everything is in place right from the start of the implementation process. This plan will essentially be an internal marketing strategy for the new idea management platform and should include a range of formats and channels:
Pay close attention to any feedback received throughout this marketing process and adapt where appropriate. Leverage the positive feedback to further amplify your marketing efforts and address the negative feedback with a solution. There will inevitably be areas of the proposed implementation process that require improvement and attention, or where additional clarity is needed. This is why it is important to roll out the communications plan as early as possible; ironing out any issues early on will mean that the bulk of the process is smooth and non-disruptive.
Develop a comprehensive internal marketing strategy to ensure full awareness across the organisation
Pay attention to feedback received and adapt accordingly
Communications surrounding the idea management software should be ongoing
8. Testing & refining
With stakeholders in place and a comprehensive communications plan established, you will need to set out a timeline of all key stages, ensuring the project is kept on track. The initial implementation will be a process of measuring, testing and refining; in the majority of instances, there will always be ways in which the initiative can be iterated and improved. For this reason, it is essential to include a soft launch as one of the stages, in which you can test that all elements are working correctly. A soft launch enables early identification of any issues and leaves plenty of time for them to be resolved before wider company rollout.
Explore the full list of Idea Drop's core features
The first few months are the most important of any change initiative, as this is when you have the attention of your stakeholders and employees. Have a selection of innovation challenges in place, ready to launch with. When posting a challenge, it is essential to provide as much information as possible to encourage relevant, valuable responses. Outline the current problem and how a resolution will help the business. Ask the key question that needs to be solved, set a deadline to add a sense of urgency and attach any supporting material.
Recommended challenge format:
Beyond this initial software implementation point, it may be necessary to revitalise the internal communications strategy to maintain interest and participation. Provide regular bulletins to broadcast the key successes and updates, making it the ongoing responsibility of the appointed stakeholders and ambassadors to keep engagement high. This type of communication is crucial in captivating the attention of employees from the outset, enabling them to be fully involved and therefore enjoying greater user satisfaction
An open line of communication between stakeholders and employees should be established, so that the initiative can be continually measured and adapted. Reporting back to management is a key part of this, as it will enable both improvements and potential expansions. For example, following a successful integration of the software, stakeholders may look to pursue a wider internal roll out or even explore an open innovation strategy. By paying close attention to the progress of a change initiative, the opportunities for success are endless; it just takes a little time and dedication to achieve great results.
Set out a timeline detailing the key stages of the software implementation process
Include a soft launch to allow software to be tested and any issues ironed out before full roll out
Devise a selection of innovation challenges to launch with so employees are engaged from day one