Idea management software structures the process of gathering and developing ideas around business focus areas, including product development, day-to-day processes, customer feedback, market trends, and competitive insights, with the goal of organizing and managing those ideas for improvement or development. Idea management tools allow users to solicit feedback from both internal and external stakeholders.
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What is Idea Management Software?
Idea management software, also called innovation management software, structures the process of gathering insights on products and then organizing and managing those ideas for improvement or development. Feedback can be solicited from employees, stakeholders, customers, or multiple groups with the aim of improving a product or brainstorming.
Idea management software is a step up from the traditional office suggestion box. It enables companies of all sizes to continuously innovate and grow by deliberately leading the ideation process. Idea management software facilitates the full transparency of a company, as anyone who has access to the database can track ideas from inception to implementation. Ideas are collected from all areas of the organization, beyond specialized departments such as R&D, product management, and marketing. These products can integrate with enterprise feedback management software to allow users to manage both internally and externally sourced recommendations.
What are the Common Features of Idea Management Software?
Innovation management software can vary widely in how much structure it provides to the idea generation and collection process. Some products provide rigid scaffolding to every step of the innovation process. Others offer more open-ended methods and tools for users to develop ideas more organically. Below are some examples of features commonly found in idea management software from across the spectrum.
Ranking: Most idea management software allows users to vote on the ideas they like best, either within a given idea campaign or of those presented from a suggestion box. This will then rank the ideas, letting the strongest or most popular float to the top for consideration.
Commenting: Some solutions offer commenting capability, which allows users to provide feedback on ideas in real-time. Comments can lead to more in-depth discussions about ideas, refining and polishing them into viable options.
Idea campaigns: Idea campaigns are often a staple feature in idea management tools. Users can create a dedicated campaign to rally ideas for a particular goal or challenge, and others can respond with their ideas within a given campaign. This consolidates ideas for a given topic in one centralized space where they can be evaluated and weighed against one another.
Suggestion box: While some idea management tools are essentially dedicated suggestion boxes, some will offer a suggestion box as an additional feature. These suggestion boxes can be internal, external, or both.
Gamification: Gamification features are sometimes utilized in idea management software to increase employee engagement and incentivize employees to get involved in the brainstorming process.
Templates: Some products will offer a variety of templates, sometimes customizable, to help launch a brainstorming or whiteboard session. Templates can help to provide structure to the idea management process, which is particularly useful for large enterprises.
Project planning: Some products will allow users to build out project plans and tasks natively inside the software based on generated ideas. Other software will provide the same functionality by integrating with outside project management software.
Surveys: Surveys are a great method to take the pulse of an organization, and many innovation management solutions employ a survey feature so users can quickly gauge how their employees feel about recent changes.
Forums: Forum discussions can serve as an excellent space for the discussion and deliberation of ideas. Some idea management tools provide features akin to an online forum where ideas can be discussed more in-depth internally.
Mind mapping: Mind mapping tools enable individuals or groups to diagram their thought processes, allowing them to track and visualize their brainstorming sessions from start to finish.
What are the Benefits of Idea Management Software?
Innovation management software can benefit nearly any company with employees or external stakeholders. By allowing more individuals to contribute to an ideation session, a company can crowdsource ideas and recommendations for ways to improve processes, solve business issues, and enhance a company’s performance. Below are some of the key benefits of idea management software:
Promote efficiency and transparency: Idea management software allows users to track the progress of an idea from inception to its final form. This software assists with managing ideas and preventing information from getting lost amongst clutter. It can also help reduce the duplication of already-suggested ideas.
Prioritize innovation: Innovation management software assists an organization with achieving its strategic goals by identifying new products and services, discovering new markets for existing products, and acting on consumer feedback. Overall, these benefits will assist an organization in achieving a competitive advantage.
Empower stakeholders: Innovation management software supplies organizations with the ability to empower their customers and employees alike. By prioritizing internal and external communication, organizations can promote the application of “wisdom of the crowd” expertise to business operations. Additionally, by encouraging innovation and transparency within an organization, employees are empowered to proactively improve their work processes. Organizations can also utilize idea management software to validate and reward employee engagement, and creativity, and inspire the cultivation of innovative ideas.
Reduce costs: Idea management software can be used to reduce costs by finding ways to eliminate waste or improve existing processes. Additionally, utilizing stakeholder perspectives is a great way to avoid the costs of outsourcing.
Who Uses Idea Management Software?
From a startup to a large corporation, the appeal of innovation management software is that it can be implemented in any type or size of business. Whether it be an externally or internally facing product, rigid or freeform, companies benefit from having a space where insiders can make recommendations. Employees and external stakeholders, such as customers or investors, will have a unique perspective on the products and services they contribute to or purchase, and businesses would be wise to harness their input to improve their offerings.
Employees: There is an advantage to considering employee perspectives when it comes to decision-making. Employees contribute knowledge, skills, and experience—all of which are invaluable to a company. Allowing employees to partake in brainstorming and decision-making processes can save a company time and money. By leveraging internal insight, a company may reduce outsourcing previously needed for assisting with business concerns. Additionally, inviting employees to participate in collaborative decision-making processes can lead to feelings of empowerment, boosted morale, and overall higher employee satisfaction.
External stakeholders: Whether an individual is a customer or an investor, they are affected by a company’s decisions. Allowing external stakeholders to provide feedback and ideas directly is a great way to get an outside perspective as well as ensure stakeholders feel valued. Outside perspectives can shed light on overlooked concerns and offer a novel problem-solving approach.
Software Related to Idea Management Software
Related solutions that can be used together with idea management software include:
Knowledge management software: Knowledge management software and idea management systems have some overlap in functionality, in that both facilitate the collection and organization of internally and externally sourced information. However, innovation management tools handle feedback to bolster company transparency and innovation, while knowledge management offers a knowledge base for teams to reference and retrieve documentation regarding company information or answers to common questions.
Note-taking management software: Note-taking management software often offers some of the same features found in idea management solutions. Some note-taking tools will provide mind mapping functionality or more structured workflows for penning down ideas. However, note-taking management tools are more freeform in their offering and are much less structured. Additionally, note-taking software usually cannot support the same number of collaborators that idea management software can.
Challenges with Idea Management Software
The software can come with its own set of challenges. Below are some examples of issues a buyer may face when utilizing idea management software:
Identifying relevant ideas: With a large influx of submissions, it’s always possible that some relevant and useful information may be overlooked. Some idea management software products may not allow the user to limit the number of submissions or may not provide filtering and searching features. If this is a potential concern, it’s important to look into products that offer advanced searching functionality.
Assessing feedback: When idea management software is utilized to gather feedback, some systems may have an idea ranking feature to arrange comments based on popularity. Popularity could be calculated by the level of engagement the user’s idea gets among collaborators and their historical participation. Typically, the higher their engagement and participation, the more popular their submission may be. This can misrepresent the value or relevancy of the feedback. The best way to avoid this is to choose a product that features an intuitive voting or ranking system.
Customization: Some idea management platforms don’t offer extensive customization options. This can make it difficult for users to tailor the tool to suit their industry, simplify ideation sessions, or personalize privacy settings.
Integration: Limited integration capability within other software platforms has been a pain point for some buyers of innovation management software. Buyers looking to incorporate this type of software into their existing systems should thoroughly explore the integration functionality of a product before purchasing.
How to Buy Idea Management Software
Requirements Gathering (RFI/RFP) for Idea Management Software
Regardless of where a company is at in the purchasing process, G2.com can help inform buyers of the market and assist them in selecting the best software for their needs.
The first step in deciding which kind of innovation management software to consider is to assess the needs of the business as a whole. Does the organization already use this kind of software? If so, what works and what doesn’t? Is this the first time the organization will be using idea management software? If that’s the case, buyers will need to determine how they plan to implement this software and what features the organization will need. Some points to consider are given below:
External vs. internal idea generation: Does the organization plan on using this tool internally, externally, or both?
Company size: Buyers will need to ensure that the products they are looking at will suit the size and needs of the organization. When purchasing software, it’s important to ensure the product has the appropriate scalability to adapt to changing needs.
Compare Idea Management Software Products
Create a long list
The first step to finding the perfect software is to create a preliminary list of products that fit the buyer’s general needs. The next step is to narrow down the list by selecting specific features that are must-haves or requirements for the buyer. G2.com provides information about the best idea management software, allowing buyers to filter options as well as user reviews to help narrow down the product list to a more relevant selection.
Create a shortlist
Creating a short list of software products is an important step in the buying process. While it may be daunting to filter through various products, users can get help by utilizing G2’s “Compare” feature. This feature will take products of choice and display them side by side so the buyer can easily determine which software ticks the important boxes on the list.
Once the buyer has narrowed down the product list, the next step is to conduct a demo. Demos allow buyers to see a product and its features in more detail. To ensure a buyer gets the most out of a demo, it’s important to go in prepared. Buyers should have a business scenario ready that will fully test each product in consideration. Additionally, buyers should inquire about cost, vendor support, and any concerns they have about the product. Adequate preparation will make it easier for a buyer to compare products after demos have been completed.
Selection of Idea Management Software
Choose a selection team
Idea management software can be utilized by employees, management, and external stakeholders. Therefore, it’s important to choose a selection team that will be able to assess a product from each standpoint. A good starting point would be to select three to five team members with different roles to participate in this process. The more varied a selection team is, the better a company can assess how well a product will meet its needs.
Once the selection team has narrowed down their software picks, it’s time to discuss customization options, pricing, and the type of support needed from the vendor. It’s always important to address pricing options, even when they are listed on a vendor’s website. Many software vendors will provide discounts and custom pricing options based on what the buyer is looking to purchase.
Once a buyer has made the final decision on a product and is ready to move forward with a purchase, it is recommended to conduct a final demo, inquire about a trial run, and determine what the next steps are if the product doesn’t ultimately fit their needs. These steps can provide a buyer with an additional sense of security and confidence when making a final decision.
Idea Management Software Trends
Digital collaboration software has been increasing in popularity over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With many teams working remotely, companies are looking at ways to innovate and enhance their remote workspace. Utilizing idea management software is a great way for a company to drive employee engagement, enhance visibility, and ensure that employees are feeling connected and valued while working virtually.
As outlined above, idea management software is an excellent tool for maintaining employee engagement and satisfaction. Moreso, it’s a resourceful way for a business to stay connected with its customer base. Since the start of the pandemic, consumers have become more aware of their purchasing decisions. For example, many consumers are now invested in the way a business is handling safety measures and treating their employees during COVID-19.
Aside from ethics, consumers have changed their purchasing habits to prioritize the health and safety of themselves and their families. Companies can utilize idea management software to crowdsource ideas from their customers to ensure they are meeting their expectations. Additionally, crowdsourcing ideas and suggestions from customers can help a business with its continuous improvement strategy and fuel a culture of innovation.