What is idea management software?
Idea management is the practice of collecting, organizing, and evaluating insights and feedback about your product. When you can understand what customers actually want, you can focus on defining and building new functionality that solves real-world problems. This ensures that your product roadmap delights customers and contributes to business growth.
Some product managers use an assortment of static spreadsheets and documents to manage ideas. But it becomes difficult to keep track of ideas and prioritize which ones to implement into your product plans when those inputs are scattered across multiple locations. As your idea backlog grows, you will need a more efficient way to gather ideas and decide which ones to prioritize for future releases. It is also important to keep customers informed of progress, which can be time-consuming when the process is manual.
Most product management teams today use purpose-built idea management tools to capture feedback and requests from customers, colleagues, or stakeholders in one place. Roadmapping software — such as Aha! — provides a unified approach for setting strategy, building roadmaps, and capturing ideas in one system. This makes it easy to track ideas from concept to delivery. You can also automatically communicate the status of ideas to customers, keeping everyone informed of progress as it happens.
What should you look for in idea management software?
There are a wide variety of web-based tools for idea management. No matter which tool you choose, you will want a complete idea management system that allows you to efficiently capture and manage ideas. You also want to look for a software solution that includes a clear workflow for reviewing and prioritizing ideas. Here is an overview of the functionality you should look for:
Capture ideas in a central place — Gathering feedback and tracking ideas in a centralized location is important to ensure a unified idea management approach.
Organize ideas by theme — Organizing ideas by theme can help you focus and strategize on which ideas should be concentrated on. For example, you can group ideas as they relate to specific components of your product and also identify any similarities across ideas.
Analyze trending ideas — Reporting capabilities make it easy to track trending ideas by category and based on recent votes. This helps you quickly see which areas of your product need improvement and prioritize ideas with significant market demand.
Score and prioritize ideas — Scorecards provide a way to quantify the business value of ideas based on impact and effort. This helps you rank ideas and promote the most valuable ones to your roadmap.
Promote ideas directly to your roadmap — Integrated roadmap and idea management software can help make the transition from idea to feature more seamless. This is because you will be able to track an idea from inception all the way to its delivery within the same system.
Communicate progress of ideas — Keeping customers, team members, or other stakeholders updated on the status of ideas ensures transparency and makes individuals feel heard. Your tool should provide the ability to comment on ideas and to send automatic notifications when the status of an idea changes.
Integrate with third-party systems — Integrating idea management with other tools, such as customer relationship management systems, can help bring your sales and support teams into your idea management and product planning processes by linking ideas with business and sales opportunities.
How does idea management software work?
The best idea management software gives you the flexibility to define your idea management process in a way that makes the most sense for your organization. For example, you might want to open ideation up to a general audience. This is great for crowd-sourcing innovation. Or you might want to limit to a few users with a specific submission form.
It is important that your idea management software gives you the ability to control access and visibility with public and private options:
Public — Ideation is accessible to everyone. Customers can submit new ideas and vote on existing ones, giving them an unfiltered voice to share feedback about your product.
Private — Only a select group of people can provide feedback and new ideas. These groups can include internal teams, partners, or a key set of customers.
You may need to have both in order to best organize and gather feedback about your product. The best idea management software enables you to do this easily, so you can manage every single idea and establish a consistent workflow. An overview dashboard can help you to quickly track all new and existing ideas. You want to be able to review all ideas in one place, group them by status, and even see top idea contributors.
The ability to score ideas by factors such as popularity and effort can help you understand the value of an idea and to effectively prioritize it. Once you have prioritized ideas, it is also essential to communicate with idea submitters. Whether you need additional information on an idea or you want to update a customer on the status of their idea, keeping idea submitters updated makes them feel heard and creates organizational transparency.
Collecting and managing in a central location gives you the ability to report on idea trends. You will be able to quickly find ideas related to specific areas of your product or identify repetition across similar ideas. It is important to refer to your product strategy when deciding which ideas to build. This helps you make better decisions about which ideas will enhance your product line and business.
Embrace the power of idea management software
Product managers need a systematic approach to managing ideas and with the right idea management software, this can be done efficiently — all in one place. While every idea management tool is different, it is important to find one that you and your team feel comfortable with.
If you want to use a web-based and integrated idea management and roadmapping software to capture and manage ideas in a central location, we encourage you to try Aha! free for 30 days. Product management teams of all sizes use Aha! to set strategy, build visual roadmaps, manage ideas, and build products customers love.