Our experts talk innovation – Qmarkets’ employees discuss their personal experiences and provide tips and best practices for the successful deployment of Innovation Management systems:
Some will say that there are no bad ideas, only bad adaptation from idea into reality. My name is Joel Ben Nescher, and I’m a Project Manager in the software delivery team at Qmarkets. During my time here at Qmarkets, I’ve helped deliver custom-built software installations to large organizations and enterprises in various industries in Europe and in the US. During this time, I’ve seen installations go on for months and months due to a lack of preparation, and I’ve seen others fly by, launching in a fortnight. I’d like to share some of the lessons I’ve learned regarding the implementation of innovation process, so that when it comes time to launch your platform, you’ll be ready to begin transforming ideas into results in no time at all.
Below are five tips on what NOT to do:
1. Don’t Over-Complicate Your Workflow:
Over the years, a number of customers have came to us with very detailed workflows which they have constructed based on theoretical expectations of activity within the system. I’ve learned that it pays to listen to the people “in the trenches”, rather than the field unproven postulations of innovation-celebs and LinkedIn influencers. In general, we consistently find that complex workflows result in long and drawn out implementation timelines, and then need to be adjusted after a matter of weeks or months anyway to meet the actual culture of the system. We do have many customers who employ incredibly complex workflows and see fantastic results, however this is usually something which develops gradually based on actual data. Fortunately, the advanced self-admin capabilities of the Qmarkets platform makes it easy for users to adjust their workflows within the system as their needs change or their operations expand – further reducing complexity. So when it comes to implementation we encourage customers to remember the KISS principle: Keep it Simple, Stupid.
2. Don’t Forget to Designate a Management Team:
Project management is crucial to the implementation of innovation process. Projects that don’t have a pre-defined project management hierarchy tend to bounce around through endless stages of approval and feedback. When there is no clear project leader, we often find that bottlenecks gather over arbitrary bells and whistles while crucial features end up overlooked or under-explored. At the same time, schedules can become unrealistic, and project roles become muddled – both within the team as well as between the customer, vendor and 3rd parties. To ensure your management team is able to fully execute their innovation vision, you will need a platform that is able to define parameters that can be tailored to all departments and campaigns. The platform should also remain flexible enough to incorporate different branding, workflow processes, and communication strategies pertaining to specific teams.
3. Don’t Designate a Multitude of Roles:
Each role we add to the process is an added step. Adding users with unnecessary roles will increase confusion and conflict. In addition, when there are a large number of people with key roles to play, they each feel required to contribute to the process – even when it might not be entirely necessary. Having numerous people in numerous roles also makes the coordination between key individuals harder. You don’t need to over-simplify things, but it’s important to optimize the process and find the right balance between an unobstructed workflow and proper oversight. We are more than happy to assist with this by applying best practices from previous projects which match your idea management objectives, company culture, industry, or challenges. Our built-in moderation tools even allow your project manager to define new roles as the project goes on. Once you have selected the right people for key innovation roles, our system makes it easy to develop an effective communication strategy to keep them up-to-date with what their tasks are – via popup notifications, emails, etc.
4. Don’t Underestimate Internal Marketing:
Applying and implementing a system is important, but so is marketing the new system. Sending an email-blast simply isn’t enough. You also need to use offline channels, such as posters, workshops, conventions and more. If your employees don’t know about the new innovation system you’ve implemented, and the successes it has achieved, they won’t be likely to use it.
By not wanting to spend money on properly promoting the new system, you will end up wasting money on a system people aren’t using. From our experience, when a customer takes a more serious, hands-on approach to the internal marketing of their platform, we end up seeing a much higher engagement rate. It’s also important that all internal marketing efforts communicate a clear mission statement, and that this is communicated through a common language – it can be easy to confuse participants by using terminology interchangeably – everyone needs to be on the same page. It’s also important to showcase the major achievements the platform has unleashed – ROI, new products and services, etc. – so that employees feel more willing to participate.
5. Don’t Guess and Go:
Employees who are a part of your innovation management process shouldn’t be playing trial-and-error with a new system, or guessing what works and what doesn’t. If users don’t know how to perform actions on the system, tasks will be performed incorrectly and take longer than they should. This will lead to frustration from all parties involved, and could even result in a loss of profits. As such, it’s important to train your staff and define core KPIs needed to measure their performance. At the very least, employees who are in participating or supporting roles within the system should be sufficiently trained. Yes, some of the training can be done via tutorials on the platform itself, but there should also be training sessions and workshops with a live instructor to answer questions and ensure that the system is actually understood. Investing a little time in training can save much time in learning how to use the system independently in the future.
At Qmarkets, we’ve learned these lessons (and countless others), and we’re sharing them here with you now so you don’t need to repeat the same mistakes. Even if something seems obvious, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be thought through before being put into action. How will the users engage? What type of engagement (idea contribution or just passive voting)? In a multinational enterprise, there will always be cultural and linguistic differences to take into account.
Therefore, my motto is always to advise the customer to start simple and “learn their audience”. Once the audience is understood, we can incrementally fine tune and carefully upgrade accordingly. This is the approach we’ve adopted with many of our clients, and we are currently working on the third set of upgrades/improvements for one of our customers, with many more in the pipeline. Our core advantage is the ability to tap into each company’s unique and individual corporate atmosphere, creating a perfect match between our technology and your needs.