The Good, The Bad and the Ugly of Idea Management

“I have a feeling it’s really gonna be a good, long battle.”The Good the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

Employees are not empowered when company culture requires a long containment period for internal innovation. Better product development and business processes necessitate the identification of problem areas and actionable insight, with suggestions for improvements and followthrough. Communication and collaboration solutions have evolved rapidly to catch up to the current state of instant gratification. It only makes sense that the traditional notion of an office suggestion box does the same, namely by morphing into idea management software.

Idea management software is a fantastic way to facilitate transparency, accountability and communication within any sized organization. Idea management solutions should act as a forum for discussion, provide a hub for best practices and allow companies to pivot quickly. The software provides a repository for ideas that can and will be executed. The ultimate goal of an idea management tool is to effectively utilize the collective creativity of employees and customers. If you push too hard and too fast with innovation, the risk is that employees will struggle to see value in enterprise innovation. It is beneficial to have a dynamic solution that facilitates the ability to review submissions before publication, delete duplicates, filter out unrelated submissions and determine visibility and access.

Some of the key benefits of an idea management tool are that it:
  • Encourages innovation and transparency within the company;
  • Validates and rewards employee engagement and creativity;
  • Promotes “wisdom of the crowd” expertise to business operations;
  • Enables employees to proactively improve their work processes;
  • Prioritizes both internal and external communication;
  • Keeps ideas from getting lost among the clutter and reduces duplication of already-suggested ideas; 
  • Tracks progress of implemented ideas into their final form.

As with all technology and implementation, idea management tools stumble across significant user adoption hurdles and skepticism about the effectiveness of such a solution. Why? Because in theory, idea management is great for company transparency and collaboration between coworkers, but in actuality, idea management can become slogged with way too much input, duplication of ideas and no actual progress, just to name a few issues.

What happens when good ideas and practical needs collide?

The Good

The ultimate goal of idea management is to effectively utilize the “wisdom of the crowd.”

Stephanie Hegarty, who uses BrightIdea in an administrative capacity, explained that “the idea management section allows a private space to collect and manage feedback from your evaluators. This is extremely helpful for those administering the process; excels are dreadful to try and collect a score from an evaluator via email. Let the tool do the work for you.”

The platform’s centralized way of capturing and collecting ideas allowed her team to innovate and “identify key problems they need to solve before facilitating an innovation event to crowdsource ideas to find the proper solution.”

Likewise, a user of Spigit championed the tool facilitating “challenges to compel the competitive and innovative spirit. In addition it helps to foster a collaborative environment: as people share their ideas, others offer suggestions to improve. The Spigit tool gets the general population involved in voting for ideas.”

An Idea Scale user explained, “If executed thoughtfully, crowdsourcing can be a great way for leaders of a bureaucratic organization (or any organization) to hear (interactively) from the people doing the actual work, whether they are seeking new ideas or specific information.”

The Bad

The biggest hurdle in effective idea management solutions is their tendency to become cluttered.

Another Spigit user cautioned, “The downside is that they are a good ‘idea bucket,’ not helping with tracking and implementing those ideas. There is no good system that helps you drive ideas into implementation.” Because a successful idea management platform results in transparency within an organization, the inability of the tool to track the progress of idea from suggestion to implementation is an issue.

An Idea Scale user echoed a similar sentiment: “There is too much upvoting/downvoting and not enough people utilizing it to comment on ideas or projects. It doesn’t seem to organize the best from the worst very efficiently. If there was more customization I think it would work even better.” Too much upvoting and downvoting capabilities and not enough noted progress can deter employees from submitting anything into the portal, which renders the tool ineffective and unproductive.

The Ugly

The successful integration of idea management solutions with existing collaboration platforms means communication is prioritized, which is key to sustaining the solution.

A user of Glint Innovation complained that, while the provided activity dashboard for analytics consolidated internal brainstorming and encouraged collaboration within his team, the lack of filtering on notifications translated to an overwhelming experience. That, in turn, meant that any potential benefits that could have resulted from Glint Innovation’s platform became buried.

Olanrewaju Babalola, a user of COMPASS Quality Management Systems, disliked the fact that she and her team were “unable to work effectively with this module due to the fact that the process could not be streamlined to suit our operations.” While buyers of an idea management solution must keep in mind the scope of their business and the customization abilities of the software prior to purchasing, this is still a discouraging revelation.

Idea management is still a burgeoning category, both on the G2 Crowd website and the entire software technology realm as well. Because the success of such a tool depends entirely on the context of your business needs and requirements, we need more data to flesh out the category page. Products can be more accurately compared if user reviews exist to pull data from, so make sure to check out the products listed on the page and tell us your experience using them.

Additionally, the Buyer’s Guide for Idea Management Software, located underneath the “Learn” tab, is an invaluable tool to review prior to investing in the tool. I encourage everyone to take a long look at the buying considerations, as well as the overall benefits of implementing such a solution.

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