Project management ABC: I for idea management
This is how you unlock the potential of your employees
To be sustainably successful, companies and organisations must adapt to the changing times and be innovative. This, however, requires constant new ideas that are then implemented – and it is not always easy to develop such ideas. This is precisely where idea management can help, by asking employees to contribute their ideas. The assumption is that your employees, who have daily contact with your company or organisation, your processes and your products, are experts whose potential should be used. And this is independent of whether they are a manager, a developer or a production employee.
What is idea management?
The origin of idea management lies in the company suggestion scheme. Therefore, both terms are often used synonymously, even though there are differences: The company suggestion scheme is based on spontaneous ideas, whereas idea management is a guided process.
In idea management, all employees of a company or organisation are asked to develop and contribute ideas, for example for new products, improvements to existing products or optimisation of production processes. These ideas are collected, managed, evaluated and implemented in a structured way.
>>Idea management is a continuous improvement process of organisations by their own efforts, i.e. through the participation of employees in idea generation and implementation.<<
Advantages of idea management
- Continuous improvement of products, processes, quality, etc.
- Increasing profitability, or savings in resources, time and money through more efficient processes and products.
- Proposals for new products
- Systematic and transparent management of ideas
- Participation of all employees and thereby motivation as well as promotion of a culture of appreciation
- Improved communication and collaboration between employees and departments
How does idea management work?
Idea generation works through a variety of different methods, spontaneous or targeted. It is crucial that the creativity of employees is used to develop ideas for improvements or innovations and that the process of idea management is transparent.
This process consists of the following steps:
1. Documentation of an idea
Employees are asked to collect ideas. This can be done in different ways, e.g. via a call on the intranet. To motivate employees, for example, a bonus system or a competition can be used in which the best idea is awarded a prize.
Now the employees should document their ideas, i.e. record their suggestions and submit them to a central place, e.g. to an idea manager or via an idea management software.
An idea usually consists of three parts:
a. The description of a problem
b. A possible solution
c. The benefits of the proposed solution
2. Evaluation of the idea
based on feasibility and benefit, as well as decision for or against an idea.
Now the various proposals should be sifted through. Weigh up whether the ideas make sense or what potential they have and whether they are feasible. Then select the ideas you want to implement.
You can now pass on the ideas that are to be implemented to the relevant departments or create a project for their implementation. Idea management software allows you to check the status of the implementation and the results at any time.
4. Follow-up of the ideas
in terms of its usefulness and final report
Idea management also includes checking the successful implementation and creating a final report. Since a reward or bonus system is often an integral part of idea management, the final report helps to determine the special bonus for the employee who submitted the idea. The bonus can then be, for example, 10 per cent of the savings realised through the idea.
Challenges with idea management
Although idea management has many advantages, you may face some challenges in implementing it:
- Idea bureaucracy: The process of idea management and the documentation of ideas might tempt you to compile statistics on ideas, for example, how many ideas came from which department or from which employee in which time period. What initially sounds like a good idea to make idea management measurable, can quickly lead to employees and departments trying to meet their quota. Ideas that have little or no effect are then quickly passed on in order to have submitted a certain number of suggestions. You should avoid this and therefore convey that the number of ideas is not relevant, but that you value their quality.
- Lack of ideas: The opposite of idea bureaucracy can also be the case, namely when employees do not submit any ideas at all. Apart from a lack of motivation, another reason for this can be that the employees are afraid that their idea will not be accepted or that they will be exposed by a bad idea. An employee who has experienced how a good idea was simply dismissed, for example with the words «but we have always done it that way», will not suggest further ideas in the future. Therefore, you should strive for an open and fear-free corporate culture that encourages innovation. It is also possible for idea management to be anonymous This way, insecure employees need not fear rejection. However, you should bear in mind that this means that no reward system can be used, which reduces motivation to participate.
- To avoid uncertainty and get the most out of your employees’ ideas, the idea management process should be clear and transparent.
- As with any change in a company, it is important that your employees are committed to the idea management process and see a benefit for themselves. Therefore, make sure that there are appeals for people to participate in idea management.
- Treat ideas with appreciation, even if they are rejected. Employees can quickly become demotivated if, for example, they do not receive feedback on their ideas or if supervisors block the ideas because they do not have time to deal with them or they do not want changes.
Idea management can easily help you to continuously improve your company, its processes and products. To motivate your employees to participate, you should create incentives and make the process as clear and transparent as possible. Idea management software or apps can help you with this. With it, your employees can easily submit ideas, you can evaluate these ideas and manage their implementation status.
Learn more about idea management software:
Calculate the financial benefits of your employees’ ideas: