What is Idea Management?

Idea management is the process of collecting and growing new ideas to solve existing problems and discover new opportunities. It is the cornerstone of product management.

It’s the earliest stage of product development, where ideas are collected from around the company, evaluated and considered for the product roadmap.

Ideas come in different forms from around your business:

  • customer feedback
  • feature requests
  • problems
  • product suggestions.

Managing these ideas means maintaining a backlog of ideas where you can identify innovative ideas, product  review, evaluate and make strategic decisions around the ones you want to move forward with. You can then develop them into product specs and send them into development.

Effective idea management is the result of making it as simple as possible for the entire team to contribute to the future of your product.

Capture new product ideas across the company

No product lead or product team can come up with the next great product idea on their own. That’s a team effort that requires drawing on the expertise of everyone at the company.

The future of their product depends on harnessing ideas, suggestions and feedback from every team across their company. However as companies grow, teams and departments start to branch off into silos. Ideas and knowledge sharing tends to sit within a single team rather than be shared across teams.

Each team – product, dev, marketing, customer support, and so on – may capture and discuss new ideas internally but not share them across the company. They move forward with these ideas, with a partial understanding of the problem, and build a solution.

You can solve this problem by collecting ideas from across your company and putting them in a single place. Idea management is all about reaching beyond these silos and put all your ideas in one place.

Idea generation strategies

Idea generation enables you to get a bigger picture understanding of the issues your company. It allows you to identify the root problem rather than symptoms.

Crowdsourcing ideas

The most innovative ideas for your product often come from those closest to the business: employees and staff.

Crowdsourcing ideas internally tends to be an effective way to collect relevant and actionable ideas for your product roadmap. Ideas generated by your team members also tend to be more customer-centric and offer greater value since they’re often inspired by experiences with customers and the product itself.

With proper incentives and encouragement, you can capture high-quality product ideas for your product by crowdsourcing from your own team members.

Brainstorming sessions

A brainstorming session is a creative exercise that brings a diverse group of people together to generate a large volume of ideas, regardless of whether they’re feasible or useful.

The most effective brainstorming sessions consist of:

  • 8-10 people
  • A variety of people – creative, engineering and marketing teams

A successful brainstorming session is about quantity, not quality. Good ideas, bad ideas and absurd ideas are all fair game during a brainstorm, as they open up the group to fresh, off-beat and unusual approaches to solving problems not usually found in a rigid ideation process.

If you want a more structured approach to brainstorming, try the Product Tree Game.

 

Organize and evaluate ideas with internal team collaboration

Which ideas should make it to your product roadmap? Which ideas can be developed into new features that add value to your customers?

An important part of idea management is to turn to your own teams to help answer the following questions:

  • Will people use it?
  • Will people pay for it?
  • Are there enough people interested?
  • Where does it fall on our priorities?

The best way to pick out the highest impact ideas for development is by maintaining a single backlog of ideas that everyone at the company can contribute to.

You should look at a number of factors before you approve an idea for your product roadmap, both internally and externally:

Team voting & discussion

Team voting is a powerful way to engage employees and encourage participation in the product management process.

A simple “yay” or “nay” allows them to have their voice heard in the product decision process. But more importantly, it gives them the opportunity to flag up important issues based on knowledge and employee expertise that others at the company may not have access to.

Holding a team vote and discussion can help you reach across the company to access critical information as you prioritize ideas.

Priority chart

When you have dozens or even hundreds of ideas within your idea backlog, it helps to be able to visualize the ideas that would have the most impact on your product.

priority chart

Customer feedback

Customer feedback helps you understand where exactly your customers are running into problems or the functionality your customers are seeking from your product.

Keep track of your customer feedback as you develop ideas in your product backlog – they usually hold the key to really valuable product insights.

How can ProdPad help?

ProdPad enables you to invite your whole company to your product backlog, where they can submit new ideas, discuss and vote on existing ones and contribute to the product spec. Try ProdPad free today