As more and more companies come to realize the need for innovation management, new innovation tools are being released to the market. They include everything from spreadsheet templates to sophisticated enterprise-wide Six Sigma support systems. It can be easy to get confused or frustrated looking for a solution that is the right fit for your company. It’s hard to tell which features are most important and which are just marketing sideshows. To help, we’ve identified five things that innovation management tools should do if they are going to earn your consideration.
Start Where the Opportunities Are
One of the most important functions of your innovation tools will be the gathering of opportunities for improvement. It’s the employees in your company who know where to find opportunities for improvement, so you want an innovation tool that makes it easy for them to identify and document each one. Solutions that are cumbersome, difficult to use, or limited to one device will not gain the level of adoption you need to truly accelerate change.
Support the Process
Identifying opportunities for improvement is the first step in innovation. Next, those ideas must be evaluated and approved. Approved ideas need to have resources assigned and a plan of action developed and enacted. Innovation tools should support the entire process and ensure that forward progress is sustained. Alerts and notifications that keep supervisors and team members informed are an essential element of achieving innovation success.
Many projects around innovation require cross-functional collaboration and teamwork. Tools that enhance communication and make the process transparent help to strengthen cooperation and encourage deeper connections within the organization.
Measure the Impact of Innovation
You want to target changes that will have a positive impact on the business. Your innovation tool should help assess the results of each improvement to determine if there is a positive return on the investment. This analysis can help guide decisions about which future opportunities to tackle. It also helps keep up executive interest in your innovation initiatives.
The funny thing about people is that when you recognize and reward them for doing something, they do more of it. When it comes to innovation, that’s exactly what you want. Innovation tools with built-in recognition of achievement help foster a community of employees who are ready to actively engage in making changes to improve the business.
If you select an innovation tool that covers all of these bases, you’ll be well positioned for successful innovation management. The solution you choose does not have to be complex, but it does have to be capable of serving your needs as you transition to the next level of business performance.
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