According to Accenture’s Innovation Survey, 86 percent of large US companies use ideation platforms to support collaboration with internal and external stakeholders.
Because innovation is all about the ability to generate, collect, develop and implement new ideas, having a dedicated tool for managing the process makes it a lot easier.
What comes to larger organizations, the role of an innovation management software becomes even more important as it helps engage thousands of people and allows to collect and manage their creative input in one place.
An innovation management software helps realize the full potential of creative capability inside, and outside your organization, as it allows you to facilitate active collaboration with multiple different stakeholders at once.
Although no tool will automatically turn ideas into innovations, putting some effort into finding and introducing the right one will eventually strengthen your innovation capacity.
Because there are tons of different innovation and ideation tools to choose from, finding the right one for your specific ideation needs depends on what you want to achieve, as not all tools are meant to solve all of your problems.
Therefore, I’ve decided to introduce some of the essential characteristics that all good innovation management software share.
What characteristics to look for?
Often when shortlisting different innovation tools, the first thing people pay attention to is features. Features are great for describing the tasks you can accomplish with the tool. However, successful idea management doesn’t rely on having every imaginable feature but rather the few right ones to complement your use case.
Too often, the ones in charge of the buying process focus on getting the most features with the smallest investment. Although features are important for getting certain things done, this type of checklist mentality fails to consider how the tool works in practice.
What matters more are the characteristics of the innovation management software as they reveal a lot about the quality of the tool. Characteristics are worth paying attention to as they tell a lot more about the true value it has to offer for the users compared to a fixed set of features.
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We believe that there are six essential characteristics that should be looked for in an innovation management software:
1. Easy to use
Usability refers to the degree to which a software can be used by specified consumers to achieve quantified objectives with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction in a specified context of use.
Needless to say, usability is key when it comes to selecting a new innovation software for your organization. A great software understands the user and puts their needs first.
A user-friendly software is designed with users’ psychology and physiology in mind. It has an intuitive interface and it provides a seamless user experience. When the tool is intuitive, it is easy to learn and effortless to use, which helps make innovation a part of your everyday work a lot easier, as less time will be spent on orienting users.
Although it’s important that the innovation tool is simple and easy to use, it shouldn’t be boring. A fun tool is a great way to encourage your employees and other partners to contribute to ideation.
Think about Instagram, one of the most engaging social platforms in the world with over 1 billion active users monthly. What makes Instagram so powerful is it’s simple, visual and consistent user interface. The real value of Instagram, however, is that it engages people to create more content for their followers who can show their support by commenting, sharing or liking that content.
Same applies to an innovation management tool. An engaging software is aesthetically appealing, rewarding and makes people want to participate in even more active collaboration.
A solid innovation management tool gets the ideas flowing and lets your team work on ideas that matter. It makes ideation fun and encourages users to take part of an interesting topic or an important cause. A tool that is engaging and fun to use inevitably increases overall user retention, which leads to higher participation rates and more innovation.
Innovation is only as good as the process behind it. To be able to further develop and implement new ideas, you need to introduce clear processes and responsibilities so that the innovation work is structured and understandable for everyone.
Without a clear process, it’s difficult to avoid chaos. Processes can help you to make better decisions, reduce risks and enhance your efficiency as it guides you through the whole innovation life-cycle.
What comes to an innovation management software, you should look for a tool that supports that process. This means that in addition to it being a tool for generating and collecting ideas, it also supports the next phases in the process and shows a complete picture of your ideation campaign’s progress.
Often the best ideas arise when you least expect it. It has been proved that people tend to get the best ideas when they’re relaxed or their brain is distracted, so it’s not a coincidence that many people get their best ideas in the shower.
For this very reason, the software should be easily accessible by your employees and partners anytime and anywhere.
Ideation shouldn’t be limited to a certain time or a place, which is why it’s important to make sure that the innovation software is supported by all major browsers and mobile devices. The ability to share ideas shouldn’t be limited to workstations that are only connected to local area network.
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You want to work with an innovation management software that seamlessly adapts to your existing systems and the changing environment. For a software to evolve, it has to be adaptable and versatile in a sense that it allows you to manage different types of innovation projects at once.
A customizable innovation management software adapts to your changing requirements with little or no configuration.
Last but not least, you should look for a tool that is transparent and induces openness and interaction. Often it cannot be assumed that all the best ideas come from the developers in your organization. With the help of a transparent software, you’ll be able to benefit from other’s expertise.
The right tool for innovation initiatives supports open communication. A transparent platform is one where everyone involved in your ideation process who have been granted access to the platform can see what is happening.
People can keep track of the progress of new ideas or assign others to be responsible for a certain idea. Transparency builds accountability and when everyone can see the progress in real time, identifying winning ideas and the ones that require further development becomes more effortless.
Finding the right tool for managing innovation requires some effort as there are multiple software to choose from.
Instead of making your choice solely based on different features the tool has to offer, you should pay attention to different characteristics instead. Characteristics give you a better overview of how the tool works in practice and allows you to see the real value it has to offer. These characteristics apply to most software, and are worth keeping in mind next time you’re shortlisting different vendors.