The most common questions within any innovation process are “How to recognize a great idea when you see one?” or “How to evaluate and select the best ideas that meet your business goals?”. Organizations collect employees’ ideas for a number of different purposes. They seek ideas for improving organizational processes and/or workplace, finding new products, improving existing projects, discovering new customer needs and much more.
To discover and develop new ideas, organizations use a structured system – innovation management software to support and guide their innovation process. Innovation management software supports different stages of the innovation process and the most common workflow is:
• ideation phase, where ideas are generated and evaluated,
• implementation phase, where ideas are further developed and launched, and
• market tracking phase, for ongoing competitive analysis of your new products or services.
Evaluation phase is the crucial phase in the life-cycle of any idea and it’s all about making the right decisions which idea is worth your next investment.
To discover ideas with the most potential for your organization, you have to pay close attention to the following elements:
Quality of submitted idea
Idea submission form is usually defined (customized) based on organization-specific requirements that are related to business goals. Before sending an idea to scoring, make sure that your idea meets specific requirements and that it is ready for the next phase. To avoid low-quality ideas, you need to customize idea submission form to suit your business goals and motivate your employees to ask themselves before the idea is submitted “Is there a real need for that idea?” and “What are the benefits of my idea?”. These questions, as well as the well-formulated idea submission form, will help your employees better define their ideas, and well-formulated idea will enable you to better score it.
Enabling team collaboration on an idea can be very helpful for its evaluation. At every stage of the idea development, the collaboration will improve every aspect of that idea, reinforce its strong points and pinpoint its weak sides. Comments on the idea provide insights into the direction the idea is going to and how your team feels about that idea. The number of votes gives you insights on how your organization likes or dislikes that idea. These metrics are also important as they represent collected information about the potential of one idea and help you distinguish between ideas with a higher likelihood of succeeding and ideas that need more research and should be sent to rework.
Involve right experts
To evaluate your ideas properly you have to involve right experts. Ensuring that ideas are evaluated by the right people with appropriate expertise is important in order to understand if it is viable for the ideas to be implemented and also what might go wrong. If your organization has a lot of departments and divisions, it is recommended to set as idea scorers your best experts from the departments the ideas are related to. You will often have a team of experts with relevant expertise to evaluate your idea. For example, if you are evaluating new product idea for a new financial service, your experts might include developers, customer service, bank officers and even clients as a representative of people who would use that new product.
Define right criteria
Systems like innovation management software enable every organization to define its own evaluation criteria against which they will evaluate your idea. It mainly includes a set of criteria against each idea can be measured. The better the idea meets each criteria, the higher the score.
Key High Priority Criteria:
1. Strategic fit and importance: Is your idea aligned with your business strategy? What is the impact of your idea? Does your idea deliver value to your customers? Will they use it and pay for it?
2. Product and Competitive: Does your idea have some unique benefits for the customer? Is the value for the money ratio good for that idea? What are the advantages of your idea that will help you beat your competition?
3. Feasibility: What is the overall impact of your idea? Do you have a proper technology for developing your idea? Is the implementation of your idea time and cost worthy? Do you have the resources needed for development?
Answering these questions seems simple yet it’s very effective. Idea scoring within innovation management software enables you to quantify your business idea and rate each idea based on the positive and negative aspects of it. It will give you a better understanding of the opportunities you have in front of you and their potential value. When the idea is scored in the context of your business strategy, it will give you valuable insights if it is worth your investment.
Lacking the tools to evaluate an idea can lead to not realizing or even losing great opportunity or, on the other hand, making the wrong choices for investment. That’s why it is important first to define your right set of evaluation criteria that will be aligned with your business strategy. Stimulate your employees to submit well-formulated ideas by always putting focus on benefits of the idea. Improve and enrich idea with collaboration and leave it to the experts to shortlist and find most promising ideas.
The next question is: "Do you have the right tool to do it?".