Can Software Help You Generate Better Ideas?

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Everyone wants better ideas. But it is often tough to capture ideas in a manageable way -- and even tougher to organize and implement them. Product teams especially need a way to quickly capture, categorize, and prioritize ideas.

Idea management is the ability to capture feedback or insights from internal and external groups to incorporate into future products or product releases.

Better ideas lead to innovation -- and innovation brings market leadership.

Ideation software makes it easier for you to capture and respond to customer feedback, recommendations, and questions -- all within the context of previously submitted ideas. Once those ideas are prioritized and scheduled for future releases, ideation software also allows product teams to quickly respond to the individuals who submit ideas.

The most effective ideation software gives you the option to create as many ideas portals as your business needs. You may prefer to have a private portal to collect internal ideas and a separate public portal to collect customers ideas. Or you may want to have an integrated portal -- one repository for all those great ideas.

Gathering ideas is easy. The hard work in idea management comes when you have to vet and prioritize those ideas.

Here are some guidelines for grooming your idea portals:

Ideas should be complete
To save time, start with a quick review of new ideas to determine if more information is needed. If so, email the idea submitter directly with clear instructions on what information is missing and what details they need to add to make the idea complete.

Merge duplicate ideas
Duplicate ideas should be merged. You want to reduce your list to only include unique ideas -- without losing the details and nuance of each request. When you merge ideas, the one to which you merge becomes the "master" idea. Additional ideas merged should become part of that master group.

Prioritize projected benefits
You may review an idea and know right away that it needs to be promoted to a feature. But many times, the value of an idea is not immediately clear. Ideas should be prioritized based on projected benefits to both the customer and business. Formalize a scoring process so that you can sort submitted ideas effectively.

Promote ideas to features
When you promote an idea to a feature, you create a link between the idea and the new feature. This ensures that a  origin of each feature is always accessible. It also makes it possible for anyone who submits or subscribes to an idea will be automatically notified when that idea becomes a shipped feature.

Respond to feedback
Responding quickly to ideas with "yes," "no," or "soon" has clear benefits for the person who submitted the idea. The immediately know where their idea stands. But this process helps the product team as well. It clearly communicates and reinforces product positioning and direction.

Ideation software can make the work of idea management less painful. But for every great idea, there are many, many ho-hum ideas. The best solution for generating great ideas is to practice ideation -- the creative process of generating, developing, and then curating new ideas.

How do you manage and prioritize ideas?