Learn How IdeaScale’s Project Planning Feature Can Help Your Business Transform Ideas Into Promising Concepts

Project planning is where innovation strategy crosses from the abstract to the real. IdeaScale assists in making that happen with the Project Planning tool. Before deploying the tool, read up on what it involves and why you should use it.

Why Project Planning is Important

A common team-building exercise with project planning is to hand a team a small budget and tell them to bake up a cake for the group at the end of the day. A simple task, right?

Yet once the team gets started, it quickly becomes complex. Everyone has a different mental ideal of the best cake, which may not align with the best cake for the people they’re serving. So before they can start, the team needs to agree on an ideal outcome.

Once they settle on that, they have to actually make the cake. What recipe should the team use? Should they draw from ready-made ingredients and mixes, or should they make their own cake mixture and frosting? Is making their own even possible with the tools they have on hand and within the budget given?

Then comes the baking and decorating. Someone has to watch the cake, time it, pull it out of the oven, and let it cool before it can be frosted and decorated. The vast majority of teams can deliver a cake people will gladly eat. Yet making a cake both they and their audience are happy with is another question entirely.

It’s a good exercise because it emphasizes the need for project planning. Even a simple project has a string of decisions that need to be made. And those decisions need to have somebody to take the lead and follow through.

Steps Preceding Project Planning

As part of your innovation strategy, you should have these steps in place before launching a project.

Decide on Metrics

What does success look like for this project? In some cases, this is simple. But in others, it could be more complex. For example, if you’ve experienced a trend of people expressing frustration with a process, and your team is changing that process, will you measure success as fewer complaints being filed? Or are you going to actively survey users and find out how they really feel?

Choose a Drop-dead Date

This is slightly different from a deadline, and it can vary from project to project. For example, some projects are going to be long-term, or even perpetually ongoing, with the team turning to that project when it has time. One example might be running surveys about outside vendors to see if they’re still meeting needs.

Others may not be viable past a specific date. If you’re working on a project for Windows 10 and your company plans to switch entirely to Windows 11, you may have to ask if the project is viable past a particular day.

Pick Your Team

Like in our cake example, each step in the project will need somebody who’s in charge of it and has to deliver results. They should understand what’s involved, be able to commit the time, and have insight into the needs of stakeholders in each step.

The Benefits of IdeaScale’s Project Planning Feature

IdeaScale’s project planning feature helps you set up and launch each project with useful tools every step of the way.

Idea Ownership

This tool allows your most active innovators and forward thinkers to volunteer for a role in the process. They take ownership of the idea, shepherd it through the process, and serve as the idea’s advocate and champion to keep the process moving. It’s ideal for younger employees who can step in and show their skills, which can be done in just a couple of clicks.

Cost & Value Estimation

Every project costs resources, even if time is the only resource used. And few projects go precisely according to schedule and budget. Cost and value estimation lets you work out how much you can spend in resources and the possible return. It collects estimates on potential returns in the high, middle, and low range, and likely costs on the same scale.

It also works well to discuss the cost of ideas that may not have a tangible return, per se, but may be implemented for other reasons such as work/life balance, climate impact mitigation, or social mission. You can get a sense of what you might spend and be ready for it.

Proposal Builder

Constructing a proposal can be an intimidating proposition for somebody who’s never done it before. Even experienced proposal developers can feel it if they’re pitching to their peers.

IdeaScale’s proposal builder uses existing templates to help your team design its proposals. It’s a good tool for junior employees to develop experience in a lower-stakes environment before pitching clients and standardizing presentations for a committee. It’s also a good way for champions to organize their thoughts for an idea that’s already been accepted, so they have materials to discuss their project and a roadmap to use as it unfolds.

Privacy Tools

Part of the challenge of innovation is putting yourself out there. And it can be difficult for some members of an organization to do that, no matter how open and welcoming the company culture. The privacy tools let you decide who can see what and offer feedback at every stage of the process in a project, so you can accrue useful feedback and act on it.

Funding

The funding tool works in two ways. First, decision-makers can assign budgets to ideas that they think will be particularly successful or meet certain criteria. Or members of your organization can “bid” on ideas they believe will be successful out of their own budgets.

Turn Ideas into Products with IdeaScale

From conception to planning, IdeaScale is built to streamline the innovation process, putting a range of tools at your command to recruit teams, collect ideas, and turn projects into products. To learn how great teams create great ideas, request a demo!

This article was originally published on the IdeaScale blog here.

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IdeaScale is the leading innovation management software platform for the enterprise, government, and education. Gather ideas, implement them. www.ideascale.com