A guide to buying innovation management software
Being an innovation manager is no easy feat. From analyzing emerging market trends and technologies to grasping how to execute successful innovation initiatives and rallying people to support your innovation programs, innovation managers have a lot on their plate.
Over time, the role of the innovation manager has evolved and matured.
While it's difficult to point to a specific date when the job title 'Innovation Manager' was formally established, the emergence of innovation management as a profession is not a recent phenomenon. In fact, the rise of innovation managers can be traced back to the latter half of the 20th century. In the 1970s organizations began to understand that it was imperative for them to focus on innovation to remain competitive. During this period, some companies began appointing individuals to oversee innovation initiatives, even though the title "innovation manager" may not have been widely used at that time.
Over the course of those many years, innovation managers began adopting numerous tools to support critical aspects of innovation management. However, when innovation managers attempt to integrate various technologies to manage programs, they encounter various challenges:
Tracking program performance
Monitoring program performance is a critically important aspect of innovation program management. However, many innovation teams are still relying on tools like Excel to track program outcomes, which can introduce significant administrative burdens. Data management in this way lacks the necessary streamlining and automation, which is a crucial aspect for innovation managers to address.
Idea and submission evaluation
When managing the submission of ideas, solutions, or startups, innovation teams have sometimes chosen to use basic form-based tools that export data into spreadsheets for judges to assess. However, the inability to engage participants, filter, and evaluate submissions in a unified platform leads to a significant waste of time and resources.
Managing all stakeholders involved in various innovation programs can be a challenging task, encompassing startups, employees, and external partners. Innovation managers may contemplate using CRM tools to handle these aspects. However, these tools often lack integration with other components of their programs, such as the ideas submitted by employees or the evaluation processes undergone by startups.
Innovation Managers understand that innovation thrives on collaboration, yet many of them face difficulties in establishing a system for engaging with partners and fostering an environment conducive to the exchange of innovative ideas. By relying solely on individual tools like Mailchimp, Mail Merge, or CRM platforms to communicate with innovation partners, Innovation Managers inadvertently restrict the potential for productive interactions within their communities. This limitation means that valuable relationships go unrealized, and opportunities for collaboration and innovation are missed.
The Importance of Innovation Management Software
Today innovation managers are increasingly recognizing the advantages of utilizing innovation management software to help them effectively manage and centralize all their innovation activities in one place.
Innovation management software is designed to facilitate the entire innovation lifecycle within an organization. Here's why it's essential:
- Ideas, solutions, and proposals: Innovation software provides a centralized platform for different entities such as employees, startups, and other stakeholders to submit ideas, solutions and propsoal, fostering collaboration and cross-functional collaboration.
- Structured Evaluation: It offers a systematic approach to evaluate ideas, using predefined criteria, which ensures that valuable ideas are not overlooked.
- Transparency and Communication: The software allows for transparent communication, keeping participants informed about the status of their ideas and proposals and promoting open dialogue.
- Decision-Making: Innovation software generates valuable inisghts, aiding in informed decision-making and continuous improvement.
How to Select the Right Innovation Management Software
So how do you go about selecting the right type of innovation management software to meet the needs of your innovation department?
It is essential to consider the following:
When selecting your innovation management software, the initial step involves gaining a clear understanding of your program's specific needs and assessing whether the software possesses the capabilities necessary to effectively address those requirements.
Is the software equipped with comprehensive features for submission, evaluation, and tracking? Does it facilitate seamless collaboration among team members and stakeholders?
Furthermore, when procuring innovation management software, it is crucial to consider the ease of evaluation, booking mentorship sessions, how users can explore potential partnerships and opportunities, and how innovation managers can efficiently oversee the innovation process.
Organizations frequently employ a variety of project management, CRM, and communication tools and software to enhance their business operations. This underscores the significance of integrating all your tools into your innovation software. When making your choice of an innovation management platform, it's essential to opt for one that offers seamless integration, as this can significantly reduce redundancy and enhance overall efficiency.
Security and Data Privacy
A key consideration is whether the software aligns with pertinent regulations, such as GDPR, ensuring that your data is handled in a compliant and secure manner. Furthermore, examining the presence of user permission controls within the software is vital for safeguarding sensitive information. These controls serve as a protective barrier, allowing you to manage and restrict access to sensitive data, reinforcing your commitment to data privacy and security.
As time progresses it will become increasingly important to scale your program, the software you choose should be able to scale with your program. Consider what kind of functionalities the software is equipped that will help you in the future as your program evolves and starts to take on a sifferent shaped.
Support and Training
Inquire about the level of customer support and training options extended by the software provider. Does the provider offer comprehensive customer support to assist with implementation, troubleshooting, and ongoing assistance?
Ease of use for key stakeholders
How easy is it for stakeholders to use the platform? For your stakeholders, it is essential to enable them to streamline their user journey, focusing on tasks that deliver maximum value to the innovation program, especially considering that many are time-poor.
In your software evaluation process, it's essential to take a comprehensive view of the software's cost, encompassing subscription fees, implementation expenses, and ongoing maintenance. Equally critical is assessing the software's potential return on investment (ROI) concerning your innovation objectives. By weighing the costs against the anticipated benefits and ROI, you can make a well-informed decision that aligns with your organization's innovation goals and financial considerations.
Reporting and Analytics
Understanding your KPIs is key to understanding how your program performance is progressing. A crucial aspect to consider is the software's capability to provide robust reporting and analytics features that enable you to closely monitor the progress and impact of your innovation initiatives.
Selecting the right innovation management software is a pivotal decision for your business. By carefully evaluating software options based on their alignment with your goals, user-friendliness, customization, integration capabilities, and other relevant factors, you can make an informed choice that supports your innovation initiatives. Remember that innovation software is not a one-size-fits-all solution, so take the time to assess your specific needs and choose a tool that empowers your organization to thrive in the ever-evolving business landscape.