Introduction to IT idea management
IT teams sit at the center of most organizations. The work you do powers the organization. People naturally have ongoing requests and plenty of ideas for new solutions. Some ideas are great and others are just so-so. Requests for enhancements require careful review. No matter where a submission comes from, you need a system for gathering, documenting, and responding — so that you can move forward with the most critical work.
Many teams use email, instant message, or spreadsheets to manage requests. Some IT teams collect ideas through an online suggestion box or customer service software. These may be appropriate methods in some circumstances but they may not help you take a request from ideation through to implementation.
Ad-hoc intake processes eventually get cumbersome. Your users likely experience a myriad of technical issues and have lots of ideas for improvements. Consider all the tools, platforms, and systems spread across the organization. It is easy to see how ideas and requests can spiral quickly.
The IT department is also responsible for achieving specific goals — a random collection of requests is not conducive to strategic planning and prioritization. Idea management software gives you a centralized place for idea submissions so you can sort and evaluate them in a timely way. You can sort ideas by system, technology, or business goal (e.g., SLA compliance, cost reduction, and employee satisfaction). Then you can go deeper and identify similar ideas and common themes so you can allocate resources effectively.
By using idea management software, IT teams can:
Encourage a culture of sharing and customer feedback.
Better understand customers and the challenges they experience.
Reveal broader themes of work instead of providing one-off solutions.
Consider new technologies that will meet customer needs.
Align requests with company objectives and the IT roadmap.
Think broadly about your idea management process. Is it easy to collect and sort incoming ideas? Can the people who submit the ideas view and vote on other ideas? Building in transparency helps customers stay engaged and gives you a better idea of what customers want.
This is an example of Aha! idea management.
What does an effective IT idea management process look like?
Effective idea management is so much more than just collecting and tracking ideas. You have the opportunity to improve visibility into long-term planning and make sure that your technology is serving top-level organizational goals. The table below outlines the basic steps in an effective idea management process.
Capture and sort ideas
As the ideas come in, you will start to notice trends. Consider how you can organize ideas into themes to help tackle them in a more pragmatic way — or route them to the relevant IT group.
New ideas often require more communication. Reach out to the customer to gather necessary technical details and review the need.
Use a scorecard to rank ideas by effort or investment. A scorecard helps you prioritize ideas based on the value they will bring to your customers and company.
Add ideas to your roadmap
After you have ranked ideas and determined which you will implement, promote them as features to your IT roadmap. Your key initiatives and team capacity can help you determine the timeline.
Throughout the process, keep customers informed of status and next steps. Even if an idea must be rejected, customers will appreciate hearing why. Show gratitude for the idea and encourage customers to submit again in the future.
Traditionally, it has been challenging for IT teams to bring visibility to planned work. With effective idea management, you can bring cross-functional teammates into the process and collaborate on valuable improvements. Great idea management ultimately drives smarter decisions.