Use Online Forms and Workflows to Power Ideas and Innovation
The best ideas and innovations for your business may come from your employees.
Employees can be outstanding sources of innovative ideas.
The people who carry out work processes every day are in the perfect position to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies, and quite often they think of ways to overcome these problems.
But not all businesses are friendly to innovation, and that’s a shame. The pace of business demands innovation in terms of processes, products and services, and even business models, and companies that are willing to embrace innovation are often the ones that pull ahead competitively. Collecting innovative ideas and putting the best ones into practice are not easy tasks, but online forms and workflows can help.
Encouraging Innovative Behavior in the Workplace
It’s not enough for company leaders to say they support innovation. For real innovation to happen, employees must know how to submit their ideas for evaluation. Getting employees to think through and put forth their ideas requires a supportive corporate culture.
Not every employee is comfortable writing up a great idea and presenting it to their supervisor, so it’s important that companies facilitate anonymous ideas. Online forms for ideas can be designed to remove and store identifying information so that ideas can be evaluated anonymously, for fairness.
Most importantly, however, employees must see innovation in action and know that great ideas are supported, funded, and implemented. They’re unlikely to submit their ideas if they know the company won’t pay attention.
Online Forms for Soliciting Employee Ideas
Idea collection can begin with a simple online form for capturing ideas. Keeping it simple encourages employees to act when inspiration strikes. It should include information like the submitter’s name (which can be removed during evaluation to maintain impartiality), a title for their idea, a brief description, the primary goal of the idea, and benefits the submitter believes will result from adoption of the idea.
Companies may also create a more detailed idea submission form for clarification of promising ideas. These online forms should ask for more detail, such as:
- A hypothesis of how the idea would work in practice
- Resources and skill sets needed to test the idea
- Estimates of how long creating a prototype or pilot study would take
Detailed online forms for idea submission helps decision-makers evaluate and prioritize ideas.
Workflows for Identifying and Prioritizing the Best Ideas
Soliciting and collecting ideas is one thing but acting on them shows employees that the company takes innovation seriously. To identify and prioritize the best ideas, you will need a team with the right mix of skills to evaluate, select, and prioritize them.
These activities can be done with an online workflow that takes data from idea submission forms and allows evaluators to rate the ideas, note where further clarification is needed, and give their opinion on whether an idea merits further consideration.
The evaluation team should have both a goal and time scale in mind. For example, the goal may be to identify, fund, and test three ideas over the course of six months. Having a goal and time frame can help prevent idea development from falling by the wayside.
Workflows for Funding and Testing the Best Ideas
Suppose the idea evaluation team identifies three winning ideas. A workflow for identifying and securing funding for development of the ideas can help bring them to fruition. Such a workflow can help the evaluation team identify possible sources of funding, communicate with those in charge of fund allocation, and develop a plan for prototypes, pilot projects, or other real-world test applications.
Collection of data on funding of pilot projects and prototypes is not only valuable for the development of the ideas under consideration but provides valuable information for future innovation pushes. It also lays a foundation for determining ROI for ideas that are developed and put into practice.
Companies rarely fail to innovate due to lack of ideas, because employees often have great ideas about new processes and products. Most companies fail to innovate due to a lack of a defined process for collecting, evaluating, and funding innovations.
PerfectForms is workflow software that is powerful and flexible enough to allow creation of custom online forms and workflows for almost any process imaginable – including the process of innovation. We invite you to watch our demo video to see how you can use PerfectForms to create, streamline, and accelerate a range of processes in your business.
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