Innovation Management vs Idea Management [Differences]11 min read
Since both innovation management and idea management are central to the innovation process, many people usually mix them up. The truth is that they are quite different from each other.
So how does innovation management differ from idea management? What benefits do you get from them?
In this article, you will learn about innovation management, idea management, their differences, and their benefits.
Let’s get started.
What is idea management?
In a nutshell, idea management refers to the process of collecting, enriching, upvoting, and selecting the best ideas. It refers to managing all the activities related to ideas by using a structured process.
The main goal of idea management is to generate the best ideas possible to support the innovation process and help the organization fulfill its business and innovation goals.
It may not be a challenge for most people to manage a couple of ideas. But we are talking about thousands of good ones here, which would make management almost impossible if you do it without the help of technology.
The Benefits of Idea Management
New ideas are important for the survival of the business. Ideas are part of the driving force for development and growth. In fact, you could say that all businesses and organizations started with an idea.
With the right technique, it’s usually quite easy to come up with plenty of ideas, unless the problem at hand is too complicated. But the problem often comes down to choosing the best ones.
This is where the problem lies. It’s a common misconception that a handful of ideas is enough. Unfortunately, you would need a lot of diverse ideas from different points of view to really come up with the best possible solution.
That is why managing ideas, from ideation to implementation, is important. It makes sure that every process is done correctly and that there are enough ideas to be able to fulfill the innovation goals.
Here are other benefits brought about by idea management:
Reduced costs due to improvement of existing workflows
Increased revenue from new products and services
New markets for existing products
Improved employee engagement
Quicker response to customers
Naturally, to gain all the benefits mentioned above, it’s important that the process be continuous.
The goal is to support the innovation engine by being able to come up with a lot of ideas throughout the year. For this, you would also need to level up your ideation process by coming up with new questions and prompts that would help you generate new ideas.
Innovation Management Tools
As mentioned earlier, innovation management is hard without the use of technology. Before, people used to share ideas in person, write them on the board, and file them up in a drawer for future reference.
Then somebody invented idea boxes to improve the process. Boxes are then placed on different parts of the office where employees could drop down their ideas, which were actually feedback and demands that they wanted to implement.
When digital transformation took place, idea management shifted from paper to computers. Things started to go faster and become more efficient.
For example, brainstorming, one of the most popular methods for generating ideas, used to be a face-to-face activity. Nowadays, you could start a live brainstorming session with participants from different parts of the planet.
You could even create one where participants don’t have to meet at the same time using brainstorming software.
An example of an idea management platform is Accept Mission. The platform has tools and features specially created to help in managing ideas, starting from idea generation down to selecting the best ones.
For generating and collecting ideas, you could set up undercover ideation missions where participants could pitch in their ideas without having to reveal their identities. This feature comes with gamification elements that would definitely improve engagement levels.
There are also ideation boxes, which act like digital idea boxes, where others could drop their ideas whenever and wherever they may be. This is helpful since you never when you might think of great ideas.
Yes, it also involves idea management. This is the root of the confusion. But when you look at the bigger picture, idea management is only one of the processes involved in innovation management.
Now, let’s discuss the other processes involved with innovation management.
Innovation Portfolio Management
Innovation portfolio management is the combination of activities involved in selecting, building, and marketing a new flow of initiatives. These innovation initiatives are what helps the business fulfill its short and long-term goals.
Think of it as a tool that could help you transform strategic objectives into project-based innovation activities. On the basis of risk profile, an innovation portfolio gives a framework to convert roughly produced ideas into real investment opportunities.
It could also be considered a risk management tool. As you implement innovation projects, investments and resources will be used, which is a risk since it’s not always guaranteed that those projects would yield favorable results.
This is why managing the innovation portfolio could help in minimizing the risk factor associated.
Innovation portfolio management is also a time management tool since it helps evaluate the time your organization needs before you could safely start another initiative without depleting your resources. In a way, it helps manage the success of innovation.
Innovation Project Management
Innovation project management is one of the most vital processes in innovation. The main goal of innovation project management is to deliver a successful innovation by solving a business problem.
Although innovation projects typically start with an idea, it doesn’t mean that this is the best approach. As a good practice, innovation projects should start with finding the root cause of a problem.
In the innovation execution stage process, there’s a phase we call the “fuzzy front end”, which consist of the first three stages:
Finding the problem
Finding the solution
Testing the solution
It comprises the early creative stages in implementing a successful innovation process as it provides the innovation concepts and business plans needed for the product development and implementation process stages.
This is why not having a good innovation project management process is a loss. It enlarges the risk associated with starting new innovation initiatives.
Although there are a lot of project management applications in the market, using innovation management software integrated with the right tools focused on innovation delivery could definitely help.
For example, Accept Mission has unique tools that are useful in managing innovation projects. This include:
Innovation project categorization based on typical innovation types like horizon, purpose, goal, and others
Connect ideas to a project and start a new initiative based on an idea
The usual kanban board that shows you a smart overview
A Gantt chart that would show you the project progression per department in a compact timeline overview
The Accept Mission platform could also help you pivot or even stop innovation projects quickly when the business value is troubling. This is beneficial in terms of minimizing further risk and damage in case the innovation project didn’t turn out as expected.
One of the best quotes from Peter Drucker is that “what gets measured, gets done”. That is, when you track, measure, and report the performance indicators, performance would definitely improve.
By having an innovation dashboard, you will have the means to measure the innovation progress and see the indicators at a glance. Because you would be able to see the most relevant indicators right away, you would be able to act quickly in case something is wrong.
Now, there are a lot of tools that you can use. Some businesses even use several applications to track and measure data simply because they have no way of connecting different data sources.
This is another benefit of using an innovation management platform like Accept Mission.
In the platform, there’s a built-in dashboard that would show you the most important key performance indicators related to innovation. You will also be provided with a live data connector for other dashboard tools.
As for the connector, it is based on “OData”, which connects data sources from Excel, Power BI, Tableau, and all other popular dashboard applications. There are also dashboard templates available that you could download and install.
In addition, you would be able to generate smart reports about the progress of the innovation success. You could also manage these reports automatically, which would give you further insights into how your innovation projects are doing.
Get Started With Innovation or Idea Management
The difference between innovation management and idea management isn’t really that hard to comprehend. Idea management simply refers to the management of all the processes related to generating and implementing innovative ideas.
On the other hand, innovation management refers to the management of all the processes related to innovation, which also includes idea management.
Next steps: Now, whether you want to start managing the idea process or the whole innovation engine, you could make things simpler by using technology, specifically innovation or idea management software.