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How to Successfully Implement Collaborative Idea Management

In this article we will recapitulate the thinking of two previous Medium posts about why we need idea management software and how we should approach the selection of an idea management system.

Idea Management Software: Strategy and Purpose

In the first post we described the needs for idea management software and provided a cluster view of about 130 existing commercial products.

Our purpose-driven approach allows to dig into systems very quickly as we pick among uses such as

  1. Brainstorming and collaboration
  2. Innovation processes and methods
  3. Feedback, engagement and surveys
  4. Continuous improvements and crowd sourcing
  5. Project and product management:
  6. Intellectual property (IP) and knowledge management
  7. Strategic initiatives, idea selection and analytics

Picking the needed category yields off-the-shelf software, or, in many cases the need for customization of a specific software or a general purpose system such as confluence/jira or another wiki.

Idea Management Software: Scale and Investment

As we know the why and what we will turn to the question of how much to invest. Total cost of ownership of the idea management software is the sum of licenses, customization, process mapping, recurring maintenance and training. As the investment typically scales with complexity and size of the company we simplify our model and look at four typical organisations:

company sizestart-upsmallmedium / small-MNClarge / MNC
scalequantities(pilot-) customers < 10

features < 100

ideas < 1000

customers 10..10k

features < 1000

ideas < 10k

customers 1k+

features < 10k

ideas < 100k

customers 10k+

features 10k+

ideas 100k+

automationnoneonly frequent use cases: campaigns, eventsadditionally: iterations, inno portfolio decisionsadditionally: experiments, user studies; links to CIP, IP mgmt, knowledge streams,
purposebrainstorm, simple collaborationinteractive process with pilot customers, implementation: adhoc, roll your own

example from an AI/tech-start-up:

all notes from internal and customer contacts, whiteboards etc. aggregated in one big feature/priority sheet, collaborative editing, A/B-testing with betas in-product, roadmap extracted manually, backlog and in-work features added to gitlab

methods, processsimple templatescustomized
employee feedback, engagement and surveysxx
customer feedback, crowdsourcingxxx
continuous improvementdepends on industry, may integrate with simple collaborationintegration with collaboration solution
project/product management relatedscale-up from adhoc solution or simple integrationintegrations needed
IP & knowledgementdepends on industry
strategy, selection and analyticsrecommended, may integrate with simple collaborationintegrations needed


You might wonder whether your small multi-national corporation really deals with more than 10k ideas? Think again and compare these numbers with hard-facts such as product lines, configuration variants, raw SKUs, spare parts and others. Consult your IP departments and review all patent claims and trade secret details. Ask operations and production departments about the backlog of continuous improvement ideas! Are there really more than 1000 features in our products? Easily verified and laid out on a KANO canvas…

Combining scale and purpose is the next step to coarse-tune overall implementation.

Idea Management Software: Implementation Details

Now let’s dig into the details. In this article we gave a value proposition of the idea management software: turn ideas in a structured manner into clusters, testing assumptions, and finally deciding on which clusters to take forward. This process relies on idea generation and collection as well as idea selection.

For optimal execution this process is optimised with regards to collaboration and usability, decision making and scalability, overall complexity, and finally the management of the software itself. This reflects the pains and gains of our initial value proposition.

If you consider introducing or changing an idea management system you should get in touch with us!

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