How to choose the most suitable idea management system for your company’s needs

Daring Ideas Are Like Chessmen Moved Forward: They May Be Beaten, But They May Start A Winning Game.” This Johann Wolfgang von Goethe quote carries a lot of merits, especially in today’s business world where the ideas are the engine that drives a business forward and one idea can win you the game.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) was the greatest German literary figure of the modern era and a statesman. And even back then, Goethe was aware of the power of an Idea and what it can bring.

Photo by Randy Fath

Battle for market
The fastest-growing companies of today gather ideas from all employees, evaluate them, develop and bring them to market faster than ever before. Some ideas may be beaten, but by allowing your employees to participate in idea management you are increasing your chances of finding “The One”, the “Winning Game” Idea.
Companies compete for the market, with the aim to quickly discover, develop and implement ideas for new products or services. To be able to compete at this level, companies must rely on the creativity of their employees and partners. Not only that, but they must also be adept at focusing employees’ creative energies around key business issues — gathering and evaluating ideas efficiently, and quickly identifying those with the greatest potential for implementation.

The leaders’ approach
There is a number of Idea management systems out there, but the question is what to look for in order to maximize your ideas potential and eventually win the game.
Let’s start with the basics. As mentioned, market leaders are tapping into all of their available resources, they are opening ideation to all of their employees, as well as to external stakeholders. With an open ideation system and option to invite all of your employees to participate, share their knowledge and expertise, you will create a friendly environment where your employees know their input will be acknowledged and appreciated.
However, a simple idea gathering is not enough. With a feedback-oriented system, your employees will be motivated and engaged to participate in ideation, share their perspectives and collaborate with others.

Ideation types
Some systems cover multiple ways of ideation. Opening idea submission to all employees, known as the bottom-up approach, is just one of them. There are systems that cover focused submission of ideas, where top management in companies can address specific questions or set specific business challenges. This approach is also called the top-down approach. Within this type of ideation, companies can gather ideas that are of most importance and that are in line with the company’s business strategy. These types of challenges can be usually sponsored by the management to motivate employees even further with challenge-based rewards.
Of course, some companies turn to their clients, looking for their opinion and input, for improving existing products/services, or even ask them for ideas for completely new ones. This form of ideation is commonly referred to as open ideation or crowdsourcing.
Idea management systems that can facilitate all of the above-mentioned types of ideation are the ones worth looking into.

Features and perks
Once shortlisting the systems based on the ideation you are looking to implement, the next step is to look for the idea management system functionalities that will enable your company to capitalize on the collected ideas.
The leading idea management system providers offer these functionalities and features:

  • Idea workflow configuration
  • Configuration of submission forms
  • Configuration of scorecards
  • User roles configuration
  • Personalization of the system
  • Integration with other systems
  • Strong support structures

As mentioned, they need to cover every aspect of ideation (bottom-up, top-down and open ideation). However, the flexibility of an idea management system and the possibility to perfectly fit the company’s needs is one of the biggest differentiators between idea management vendors. The ability to configure idea workflows, submission forms, evaluation criteria without requiring additional development hours for, it is what defines the worth of a system to the company using it.
To be able to maximize on your idea management investment, you should also be looking for a system that must be in accordance with your business strategy and that can be integrated with your existing business ecosystem and software that you already have in place (SSO provider, Slack, CRM, database, etc.).

Choosing the right one
The above-mentioned information should assist you in comparing the solutions that are offered on the market and selecting the ideal idea management system for your organization. And once you do that, you are ready to start looking for that “game-winning” idea on the wings of your newly implemented software. You can check out the break down of TOP 5 idea management software you can choose from in one of our previous blogs.

A simple definition of term innovation

To be competitive in this changing world, we have to put efforts on coming up with new ideas, products, and services that add value to our organization. This solution we call “innovation”.

Innovation has become and is a symbol of modern society, keyword for success and financial growth, an imperative for companies and enterprises. Now-days, innovation is all over ICT and car industry, but also every cosmetics have some innovation formula, most companies have innovation section on web pages and not to mention medicine and pharmacy who offers an innovative drugs. From a business perspective, it is a way to improve business and make more profit, and from a perspective of a regular everyday normal guy it became just a buzzword.

The word itself is overused and if you check with a single Google search you’ll find about 557,000,000 results in 0.32 seconds! Definitions vary and innovation means different things to different people, industries and even to different science.

Popularity that (term) innovation gained in the last decade, made us think what people mean when they say we need more innovation or we need to be more innovative?

After reviewing dozens of definitions from a diverse set of relevant sources, we decided to provide a simple description of innovation that our regular everyday normal guy can understand.

Most important characteristics/dimensions of innovation are:

  1. Creating something fresh! Innovation starts with an idea and “something” here may refer to process, product or service. As innovation is always about bringing something new, there are two paths of this dimension of innovation:
    (a) Creating something new, unique, original. Starting something for the first time. It is basically like inventing the wheel.
    (b) Improving something that already exists in a way of making it better than it was before. This way innovation doesn’t have to be about reinventing the wheel.
  2. Creating value! Creating something new is not enough for the definition of innovation. There are a lot of new things that are of no use or have no value. Innovation always has a tangible outcome that has value. Innovation must be valued, which means that it meets real need or resolves a real life problem. This reflects on commercialization of the idea itself.
  3. Innovation is a process. It has it’s structure and involves multiple activities. It’s a result. It’s an outcome. It’s something you work towards achieving “something fresh”. Mostly is a team work, team of people of diverse knowledge and expertise working together to produce something fresh. Technology helped to overcome the geographical barriers with innovation management solution that allows you to gather team in online environment around some new challenge. By encouraging and acknowledging your people whenever they come up with a new idea, you create an environment, where innovation is a part of the everyday life and work. It has always future dimension and is a positive change.

Cell phone innovation
Innovation is the reason our lives have improved since the beginning of civilazation. Innovation always means progress and in this changing world progress is expected. As technology is now in every part of our lives, we do expect that next generation of our android or iOS smartphone, will have some new features, like a faster CPU, improved battery life, more pixels on camera. But we can’t all be scientists, engineers and developers to create something new. But we all have came up with some ideas about improving our performance at work in order to work better, faster, easier. If those ideas are implemented, that is a successful innovation.
There is a significant need for a simple approach to finding new ways of overcoming the challenges that modern society bringing and innovation is logical response on it. If you have some other point of view on this subject, please leave your definition of innovation or your anecdote of an innovation in action as a comment to this post.

Top 5 Free Online Idea Management Software

Top 5 Free idea management software

Hi Innovator,

These are our top 5 free idea management solutions, based on the design, simplicity of use and available features:

1. Innovation Cloud

Our Top choice.

Free specialized idea management solution for 15 users, 100 ideas and 1GB of storage made and maintained by a software company DataStation from Belgium. They focus on the innovation management and collaboration and are on the market for 9 years now. The Innovation Cloud is a basic version of their Enterprise solution – covering complete innovation process, starting from ideas to launch. Website states some valuable references up to this point: Bayer, DHL, NASA, HTC, Etihad, Toyota, Schweppes, Electrolux, etc.

We went on to try the free version and were amazed with the design, simplicity and the amount of the features we were presented with. It doesn’t require any training, so thumbs up. The software supports ad hoc and challenge driven idea submission. It operates in three phases: submission, collaboration and approval. Voting, files and comments are there as standard, but wrapped up in nice intuitive and familiar design. Application is mobile friendly with big buttons you can’t miss, ensuring that you are always aware of what you need to do next. They announce some pretty cool features coming in the next few months. They are not spamming us with emails to go for an upgrade (25e) and they have some good newsletters with the tips and hints about the usage, best practices, etc. All in all, great tool to kick start idea management and come to the fast proof of concept for internal buy-in.

Downsides: Annoying tutorial at the start. One account per email address.

2. Bitrix24

Bitrix24 is a social collaboration and communications platform for all business operations. It’s owned by Bitrix, Inc, Intranet and Cloud company from  Alexandria, Virginia. It offers a full range of applications and tools to cover different aspects of business management: CRM, Knowledge management, Project management, etc.

They have a built in idea management system in which any employee can express an idea to improve operations and let colleagues evaluate the idea. First, we had trouble understanding the pricing from the website, but it seems that idea management is not listed as a free solution, but we presume it is free for 12 users and 5Gbs of space, so went on to test it.

Two downsides put this software on the second place: Complexity of the screens and the scope of the features. Largely tied to the fact that idea management is not a focus of this software.

3. IdeaScale

IdeaScale is an innovation management platform that uses crowdsourcing to help you find and develop the next big thing. IdeaScale HQ is in Berkeley, CA. They started as government open innovation platform and continued in the same direction, collecting enterprise clients on the way. They have a Free plan for 25 users, 5 Campaigns with profanity filter and mobile use.

They are focused on the open innovation, so once we started a test, we could not hide our work from the public. The software itself is nice, but we struggled with the fact that the privacy is reserved only for the enterprise plans.

4. Canvazify

Team collaboration and brainstorming tool for 5 users. Not exactly idea management, but it has an infrastructure which you can use to organize brainstorming sessions, Kanban views, flowcharts, etc.

You start a canvas and your team can collaborate, comment and add thingies. A cool tool for design thinking, 6 hats and brainstorming.

Still in BETA though, and very limited if your need surpass 5 users count.

5. Wridea

Wridea has been established in 2006 and after 2 years of beta testing phase, the final release has been put online on June 2008. It was developed and owned by Octeth Ltd. a web app development company established in 1999.

With the help of Wridea, you can store your ideas, manage and organize them, collaborate with your friends over your ideas, etc.

Although it is fully free solution, we found that the interface is very modest. So we gave it a 5th place on our list.

Have you seen our full list of the Free idea management solutions?

See other solutions here: Complete List of Free online idea management software