Tag Archive for cim

Enabling the Collaborative Snowball Effect to Drive Results

I just returned from a wonderful vacation week on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.  I was there for my wife’s reunion.  It was a reunion of people that had been part of Na Kani Pela.  This was a choir that sang liturgical music and Hawaiian songs at masses and then in public concerts around the world between 1974-1978.  It was a wonderful event, with more than 50 people coming together, after 30+ years – most of whom hadn’t spoken in 30 years.  The reunion was not the original catalyst.  It was a result of a snowball effect due to social collaboration over the last 2 years.  I think that it provides us with a good example of how social tools can be used in business to enable a collaborative snowball that drives results.  I’ll tell the story of the Na Kani Pela reunion and then give you a business scenario that is similar yet different.

The Na Kani Pela Reunion Snowball

  • About 2 years ago a few people found each other on Facebook – after 30+ years.  They then sought out others and found them on Classmates.com and other places.  This small group decided to connect principally via Facebook and just starting social conversations.


  • After some time, someone had the idea of having a Na Kani Pela reunion.  The idea of the reunion event was the catalyst for the snowball.  They started to organize the search to find others across the world and connect them into the group via Facebook.


  • It started to shape up and the planning began –primarily done via social collaboration.  A few stalwarts took it upon themselves to lead the effort and organized the details.  The word spread and more people came to join the group and sign up for the event.  With each new person, other lurkers started to come on board.


  • The collaboration continued with random activity, but, the event (the purpose) kept it snowballing.  As the event neared, the activity increased.  Excitement and anticipation was rampant.  


  • Then, last week, 50 people, many with families, spent more than a quarter of a million dollars to travel to Hawaii and participate.  During and after the event, the pictures and videos flowed.  It seems that this group of people, that shared an experience 35 years ago, now, have a new experience, and a tool to continue the conversations into the future.


In sum, for me it was an amazing experience.  First, because of the people and the purpose and how meaningful it was for them and even those of us that were new to Na Kani Pela.  Second, because I was able to watch this snowball happen over the past 2 years and witness the power of social collaboration tools on a personal level.


Enabling Your Snowballs to Occur that Drive Business Results 

So, how does this apply to social business software on SharePoint?  There are differences in purpose, tools, and activity, but, let’s look at how the collaborative snowball effect could work for you leveraging CorasWorks Cim on SharePoint.  I’ll walk through a scenario…

  • A couple of engineers have come up with some cool technology.  They really like it, but, don’t know what the application is and what markets it could serve.  They start posting about it and collaborating within their Engineering community, alongside all of the other activities.


  • This small group then comes up with a couple of application ideas.  They get excited and ask a couple product marketing folks to check it out and see if they like it.  Of course, the pm folks think they can do better and put their ideas and enhancements forward.  They also tap into some “ringers”, those clever/creative idea people they know, to also take a look.  A few pretty good applications ideas now emerge.  At this point the group decides to spin up their own community, lets call it the New Widget community, to take it further.


  • They invite others that are interested.  More and better practical/feasible ideas and applications emerge.  They can now see the possibility of a real new product.  They use the community to flesh out the ideas and keep track.  All of the participants “watch” the community and receive their updates in their Cim Activity Stream.  The snowball effect is happening.


  • They build a prototype and collaborate on which customers to test.  They do the tests and it looks very promising.  They then collaborate to formalize a proposal to get approval and funding.  This proposal is submitted to another New Project Review community.  it goes through the process, involving collaborative management reviews, and gets funding.  During the process it gets even broader visibility, touching the people focused on finance, sales, manufacturing and marketing.


  • The general group continues to collaborate in the Widget community.  They use the community to drive it through engineering, to manufacturing and launch, now including folks from marketing and sales. 


  • The product launches and the initial customers are tracked closely.  This activity is visible.  It drives some tweaks and finishing touches on marketing.  They decide to launch a Customer community for the new customers to contribute their ideas to drive the new product forward.  They take these ideas along with their own to now drive sustaining engineering.  All of the ideas are feed into their Product Change Request process.


Now, it is rolled out and doing just fine.  The activity in the Widget community now starts to tail off.  The other communities just keep doing their thing.  On to the next snowball…



In the business scenario above, five primary Cim communities are used to drive the process forward.  The Engineering Community is a localized departmental community where the conversation begins.  The New Widget Community is community of purpose where the idea was nurtured to create the snowball effect and refine it.  The New Project Review community and Product Change Request process community are social business processes that are continuing and play a role in getting decisions made. The Customer Community opens the conversation up to the outside and feeds ongoing internal work.

Just like Na Kani Pela, it didn’t start out as a planned outcome.  There was a spark.  This spark was flamed and nurtured and enabled to emerge and become a product that worked in the market.

The key here is the enabling environment.  There are different communities, like pockets, that play their role.  Over time, based upon events, the activity ebbs and flows amongst the different communities.  With Cim v2.1, all of the relevant activity would be feed into the users Activity Stream so that they effectively see all of the updates from the different communities across the environment as the idea moves through its phases.  People are able to “watch” what is relevant to them.

With Cim in the new world of social business, you are adding a layer of software that enables this kind of process to occur.  Parts are structured and other parts are meant to allow emergence and improvement.  The good part is that this natural emerging process is something that we as people are actually very used to.  But now, we have tools in our business lives and our personal lives that are much better enablers to support the way we work.




Knowledge Pool: Easier collaboration, Better Knowledge

My last post, Social Business Collaboration Meets SharePoint 2010 Intranet, included a few videos showing your collaborative experience can be enhanced using Cim Social Business Collaboration on your SharePoint 2010 Intranet.  They focused on people working within an IT Department portal.  In this article, we’ll do some “Day in the life” videos and look at a specific scenario where users are sharing and collaborating as part of a knowledge community from across a SharePoint environment.  We’ll see how the knowledge evolves and improves via the collaborative community and the inter-action of participants. 

The 4 “Day in the Life” videos show different users sharing, using, and collaborating on the topic of modifying the branding of a portal on SharePoint.  A key aspect to note is that the users are working from different locations across a SharePoint environment: a Cim-branded department portal, a native SharePoint team site, and, a native SharePoint My Site.  Yet, they are all tapping into the same Knowledge Pool community, interacting, and seeing the activities of others from wherever they work – without having to navigate somewhere else.  This convenience and visibility enables greater participation that drives improved collaboration and results.


Here we show a schematic of how this lays out.  In the scenario, our “community” is not a place that the users go, rather, it is a resource that they leverage from wherever they work.


Knowledge Pool: 4 “Day in the Life Videos”


Knowledge Pool: Contributing an Article (runtime 3:59)

Here Pat Green kicks things off working from the IT Department portal by contributing an article on changing the menu style of a portal.


Knowledge Pool: Enhancing Knowledge, Working from a Team Site (runtime 3:07)

John Gold picks up the ball and leverages this information to update his Process Improvements portal.  He also enhances the article with additional information about modifying the image and the CSS styling.


Knowledge Pool: Using the Knowledge via a My Site (runtime 2:21)

William Rogers needs to brand a new portal for projects.  Working from his My Site he accesses the Knowledge Pool, locates the enhanced article, does his branding, and, provides feedback.


Knowledge Pool: Collaborative Activity in Your Activity Stream (runtime 1:37)

Now, we go full circle. Pat checks her activity stream and sees all of the activity that others have done on this now enhanced article.


The Knowledge Pool community is just one use case of leveraging Cim for collaborative work.  Each community can be customized to fit the need.  As shown here, they can be snapped into any existing SharePoint site so that users can tap into them from wherever they work.  Users no longer have to navigate to go somewhere to access information, collaborate, and see activity.  The system brings it to them.

In the Knowledge Pool scenario, this ease, convenience, and visibility typically results in better knowledge.  The information gets more eyes on it, more use, and gathers value.  It may get so good, that, you want to polish it up and publish it to a more formal community for use internally or customer facing.  How about adding a simple process, where a group of people could tap into this pool of knowledge, make decisions about which items to publish, polish them up, and then publish them?  To see how this works, check out my post Knowledge Pipeline: From Raw Data to Published (and Improving) Knowledge that describes how you can do this.



Social Business Collaboration Meets SharePoint 2010 Intranet

Many of our customers are in the midst of migrating to SharePoint 2010.  In most cases, the initial objective is to lay out an Intranet with multiple departments and business functions.  In this article, through a few videos, I’ll show you how your new Intranet on SP2010 can become a much more vibrant, engaging, inter-active, and productive place to work when it is enhanced with CorasWorks Cim Social Business Collaboration.

On SP2007, our Intranets tended to be quite passive and focused on collaboration defined by the location and type of content.  As you’ll see in these videos, Cim on SP2010 puts an entire new layer of activity on top of this environment.  Your environment provides a much richer collaborative experience, where information and activity is visible, that encourages greater participation, and gives the users a much easier and more convenient way to work.

I have three videos for you.  They all revolve around the portal of an IT Department.  This department has three core collaborative communities that are embedded into their department portal.  Users just get down to work, with very little navigation required.

NOTE: When you click to view the video, click the “full screen” option at the top – looks a whole lot better.


Cim – IT Department Portal, Communities, and Inter-Activity (runtime 4:53)

In this video we’ll show the inter-activity by just working via the home page of the IT Department portal.  You’ll learn about collaborative communities, Top 10 Listings, rich collaborative articles, and, the Cim Virtual Workspace.


Cim – Collaborative Community Experience – Drilldown (runtime 3:32)

Here we’ll drill down in the IT Post community.  This is the community for general collaboration across the IT Department.  You’ll see how easy it is to find what you need, contribute, share and collaborate.


Cim – Business Activity Stream (runtime 4:53)

In one place, you can now see all of your activity across many communities in your SP2010 environment (not just your department, but, the whole environment).  You can see what you’ve done and where you did it – new posts, comments, ratings, uploads, reviews, etc.  You can also see the activity of others on the items you’ve posted or that you’ve decided to watch.  In addition, you’ll see how this integrates into SP2010 User Profiles, My Sites, and the social activity of SP2010. 


I hope these videos have given you a taste of the new type of experience that you can look forward to for your Intranet with CorasWorks Cim on SharePoint 2010.  We hope that your expectations for your collaborative work environment have grown over the last 3 years.  Today’s Intranet can be a much more engaging and inter-active place to work, and, that’s good business.



Cim Process for Application Change Requests

The first Cim Social Business Process app I wrote about was Product Ideas.  That article was also a primer for the new line of process apps based upon Cim.  It is a bridge between classic idea and innovation management scenarios and our more standard business process apps.  Let’s take a half-step forward and look at a different social business process – Application Change Requests. 

Application Change Requests Overview

This is a common process for an IT Department to manage their changes to software applications.  It is also a core process in a Product Management department for companies such as CorasWorks that publish software or use software in their solutions and systems.  Many organizations lack a formalized process supported by a system. They may just use emails, meetings and/or excel spreadsheets.  Often, how prioritization decisions are made is at best a secret and at worst unknown.  In addition, most lack a social element that can be used to rate/prioritize (either end-users or people involved in decision making) and/or enhance CRs with comments and information.  Further, they often lack the feedback loops to keep contributors and their “customers” informed.

Process Map

Keeping to our standard of consistency of our Process apps, below is the process map for Application Change Requests (green dots are social, blue are process management).  Note that it is very similar to the one used with Product Ideas.  The names and purpose at each step are a bit different, including, the stage-gates of the CR process.

  Process Map - Application Change Request 

The Process in Practice – CorasWorks Product Management CRs

This is a process I know well.  We use this app internally.  It is used by our Product Management organization to track all change requests to products.  The CRs may be bugs, new features, ideas, designs, documentation, etc.  We have a Change Control Board that reviews the CR’s.   

Below we show a screenshot of a recent Change Request for Cim.  Note a few changes in what information we capture and display that are different from the Product Ideas screenshots. 

- We show a CR number so that it can be referenced to external customers and internally. 

- We log the customer that came up with the CR. 

- We show the Status and a visual view of the workflow and where it stands. 

- When it gets into a product release we reference that.

- We also show the request type.



When CR’s come in they are screened in the first week. Then our Change Control Board reviews them.  They may move them forward right away, try and get more information, prioritize them, and/or look at the level of effort and impact.  When approved for development they are assigned into a product release and tracked in our project system. 


Why it Works for Us

Here are the core reasons why this Social Business Process works for us.

- It is easy for people to contribute.  This is really important or else email chaos and politics rule.

- The feedback information is at the fingertips of our customer facing people.

- Our process of prioritization is highly visible.

- Because of the first three, our employees participate at a higher level.

- At the end of the day, we know what we did and did not do (real key) and why we did it.

- The front end process ties into our back end development system which is also in SharePoint.

- It serves our core purposes without overburdening the process with details.



Cim 2.0 – Overview of Release

As mentioned in My Sabbatical article, Cim v2.0 is planned for release at the beginning of February.  We’ve had great success with the Cim v1.2 release as shown in our Featured Customer Stories.  The v2.0 release broadens the product and goes deeper.  I’ll break it down into the two solution areas supported in this release – Idea and Innovation Management and Social Business Processes.  Along the way I’ll start to introduce you to the some new modules and features.


As stated, Cim has gone beyond just Idea and Innovation Management.  It is being adopted as a platform for Social Business Systems on SharePoint.  It was designed to go in this direction based upon our modular, flexible and open design.  In v2.0 we are adding support for different solution areas.  In future releases, we’ll add more supported solution areas.  Thus, in v2.0 we’ll refer to our Idea & Innovation Management solution as Cim Innovation and the new Social Business Processes as Cim Process.  Note that we have different approaches for making your successful with each of these as discussed below.


Cim Innovation – Idea & Innovation Management

Our core is Idea and Innovation Management.  Our customers tend to apply Cim in two different ways.  One is Idea Management where they focus on the idea capture and collaboration with a small amount of management and process.  The other is Innovation Process Management where they want to define and implement the end-to-end process.

In Cim v2.0 we are providing separate “flavors” of Cim modules with feature sets that are optimized to the different scenarios. 

-  Thus, for Idea Management we are updating Idea Communities with Dynamic Forms (easily modified), Activity Auto-Promotion and Peer-to-Peer Review. 

- Whereas, for Innovation Process Management we are adding core modules and features for Remote Updates, Role Based Notification, Chained Process Actions, separate modules for Team Sites and Consoles for business users to support a richer and more robust end-to-end process. 

Customers may use the various modules and features together, but, with this approach it makes it easier for them to get up and running with their initial scenario.


Cim Process – Social Business Processes

The wholly new solution set is Social Business Processes.  In Cim v2.0 we will be including a new set of modules and design to allow folks to quickly and easily deploy point, social business processes.  The key with these processes is that the social activities and process management activities are brought together in an easy to use, balanced, single app.

The sample process to be included in the product is for Product Ideas in the Product Management department.  This is the process we are currently demonstrating (if you haven’t seen it, give us a call).  In addition, our design will allow us or others to create additional social business process apps that you will get from the Cim Learning Center and snap into your environment.  Our first batch of 10 of these next generation apps are as follows:

1.Product Ideas (Product Management)

2.Technical Solution Challenges (Engineering, Services)

3.Customer Change Requests (Product Management)

4.Process Improvement (Cross-Functional)

5.Application Change Requests (IT)

6.Requirements Gathering (IT)

7.Project Initiation Onramp (IT)

8.Customer Stories (Marketing)

9.Partner Onramp (Marketing, Channel Management)

10.Strategic Planning (Executive)


These process apps will be released in a rolling schedule.  They are deployed in a site like an application portal.  This site incorporates the social aspects along with a stage-gate management process, notifications, and reporting.  The process app is packaged into a single module where you control the forms, data, security, process actions, stage-gates, notifications, auto-promotion, reports, etc. 


One Product, Many Solutions

Going into 2011, our plan is to continue to add additional solution types to the product.  We’ll also be adding individual apps, such as the business processes mentioned above, in the Cim Learning Center.  All of these will be part of a single product under a single license program for Cim customers.  This has been our approach with the CorasWorks Application Platform now in v11 and has worked well for our customers.  One key difference is that there is a base license for the solution and then a per user cost.  Thus, you have lower up front costs and can purchase more users as your adoption increases.



IT Requirements Gathering with Cim: Reduce Costs, Drive Collaboration and Visibility, Improve Results

In my last post, I introduced a new way to leverage Cim for group-to-group Channels that increase interactivity.  In this article, we are going to look at a business scenario that takes the Channel approach and integrates it with a more standard innovation management workstream.  The scenario is IT Requirements Gathering and the solution provides a solid way to reduce costs, increase collaboration, and drive efficiencies and effectiveness.

Does your organizations’ IT department gather requirements for new applications, changes to existing applications or infrastructure, or new infrastructure projects?  How is this done?  Meetings perhaps?  Emails? (lots of both) Is it considered effective?  Are the “customers” all local or are they distributed? Do you ever get the questions later on as to who wanted a given requirement, or how important it was ranked, or whether it got into the project?

Requirements gathering is an art.  If you take a look at the normal requirements gathering process, in most organizations, it not easy or neat or efficient.  It is a challenge of engagement, balancing, documenting, feedback, prioritizations, and politics.  When you are working on requirements with “customers” that are across the earth, it is even more challenging.  Further, the flow from the “customers”, through the requirements manager/process, and to those that are doing the project is usually quite constrained – particularly the upstream visibility and interaction from the “developer” to the customer.  The historical record of how the requirements came to be is usually impossible to decipher or get your hands on in a convenient manner.  We can do better.

Below is a schematic that depicts a process leveraging CorasWorks Idea Management and the Channels approach.  The IT department has a management hub to gather and work up requirements and manage all requirements projects.  When a new potential project comes up, they create a Channel community between them and the associated “customer”.  Most often the customer is a single business group or department.  That customer then has the UI for this requirement process right there in their portal – very convenient.  If the potential project is with a cross-functional team, then, you create a Channel from IT to a site being used by the team (it is a cross-functional portal).



Then, the interaction starts.  IT may set a timeframe, say 30 days for the requirements process to happen.  The customers start entering requirements or the IT department can post those that they have.  Everyone within that Channel can review, rate, and comment.  There is high visibility.  The customer (usually many people) can “trade” amongst themselves and the Star Power ranking shows their prioritization.  IT can respond with feasibility information or comments. It is highly interactive.  It is asynchronous – meaning people can engage whenever they want or need to.

IT then processes the requirements in the hub.  They are already initially prioritized by the customer.  They may feed back summary documents or specs to the customer for vetting via the Channel.  Once they are set they push the approved requirements into the project sites that they have created.  The people working on the project can do their work and can interact directly with specific people from the customer on specific requirements.  If you leave the Channel open, new requirements or changes can flow through.  There is a visible and persistent history of what was proposed, said, by whom, decided, assigned, and the status.  Routine updates can be provided via the Channel as the requirements process becomes a development/implementation project.

This scenario is a standard idea to innovation workstream using Cim.  Except these are not individual ideas but a collection of related requirements for each IT project.  They use point-to-point Channels to make it convenient for people to engage from wherever they normally work and to enable a high level of visibility and interactivity for this specific project.  The Channel can be used for the Requirements process, the implementation/development process, and even, future change request management.

The upshot is that this solution can take a challenging and not so neat process of requirements gathering and make it considerably better.  Just add people…


Channels: Group to Group Inter-activity

A couple weeks back I got wind of a customer that wanted to address a very straightforward problem – getting Marketing and Sales to work better together.  This is an area that can benefit every commercial organization.  With a bit of inspiration, we came up with a rather nifty way of addressing this challenge by leveraging Cim to provide two-way, group-to-group interactivity.  Let’s take a look at the scenario and the solution.

So, what are some of the activities that these two departments typically interact on (or, should interact on).  Here are just a few:

  • Review and vetting of Marketing Collateral
  • Questions about upcoming events
  • Vetting campaigns and events
  • Customer stories that can be used by marketing
  • New market ideas
  • Ideas for new campaigns, events, product marketing
  • Prioritization of activities
  • Information from sales on competition, channel, field and market activity

In May, I wrote an article about the 4 C’s – 4 different types of ways to capture ideas (Idea Communities, Campaigns, Challenges, and Contests).  Last month, I wrote about the two primary ways that ideas flow in an idea and innovation workstream.  These articles address standard idea and innovation scenarios where a larger community of people are engaging with a smaller group of people that own a business process.

However, the situation of improving communication and inter-activity between the Sales department and the Marketing department is quite different.  It is two groups of people that need to work together on lots of things.  It is more of a point-to-point, communication, and interaction scenario.  Hmm…

Below is a graphic of the solution using a new approach that we will call “Channels” (another “C” use).  The objective is to get Marketing and Sales working better together.  What you see here are individuals within each department working in their own separate portals.  Historically, the twain do not meet.  They work in their silos.  To interact they need to go somewhere else.  However, now we introduce Cim and our Idea Communities, and, viola the Channel is born (the green connecting pipe).

idea channel-2-400


Here is how it works.  Each person continues working in their department portal.  A Cim idea community is deployed in the background working as a service.  The Community front-end UI goes into each portal.  The Channel is now in place.  To each department, it appears that they have a point-to-point communication channel with the other department – which, in fact, they do.

Now, they start to work.  A few scenarios:

  • The marketing department posts a new presentation for Sales to review.  A number of sales people rate it and make comments.  They upload a couple of presentations that they have done or their own.  Marketing reviews them.  Marketing sets up a meeting to discuss the presentation with all comers and gets feedback – with people logging comments in the virtual workspace.  A few days later marketing comes out with the final presentation which is posted and immediately available.
  • They set up a Section for Customer Stories.  The sales folks gradually start to enter stories – it is easy and convenient to do so.  Other reps rate the stories and make some comments.  Marketing reviews it and asks questions.  Marketing then creates a snapshot for the web site and asks sales to review it.
  • Over time, sales folks have posted ideas for marketing campaigns and events.  Just before the quarter marketing posts 5 fleshed out campaigns/events and allows sales to vet them for a week (rate and comment).  The deal is that marketing will fund the top 3 rated events.  At the end of the time, marketing posts the quarterly plan for all to see.

The list and interactivity goes on and on.  There is now a very rich Channel for collaboration, information, and interaction between the departments.  It is easy to use and convenient because no-one has to go somewhere to engage – they work from “home”.  It has high visibility and there is a persistent history.  It is easy to search and there is a simple Tagsnonomy for folks to use to filter information.  Everyone can see the most recent items entered and highest rated. It is a rich, collaborative way of working with rating, commenting, RSS feeds, notifications, file uploads, etc.

Department to department Channels like this can make a big difference.  It starts with accountability that comes from visibility, easy access, and being given a chance to have your say. So, how about a Channel between Sales and Product Management.  Or, a channel between IT and Operations.  After a while you would come to expect that each Department or Business Function will have a number of Channels to other key departments with which they have a high degree of interaction and information flow. 

With Cim, those items (like a really good idea) that should make their way into more formal process like product development or marketing campaign development can be siphoned off and processed via a Management Hub and flow into the implementation phase.  

Okay, formally, I am adding Channels to my list of uses of CorasWorks Idea Management.  It is now the 5 C’s.  The question for you is what other departments or business functions do you or should you be working closely with to improve business results?


Ideas Flow Two Ways: The 21st Century flow debate

I just posted an article about Social Workstreams vs. Workflow.  While I am still in the “flow” mentally, let’s talk about the fact that ideas are generated and can flow in two different directions. The direction of flow makes a big difference in the application. This is reminiscent of the classic AC (alternating current) or DC (direct current) debate of the early 20th century on electricity.  In a hundred years we’ve ended up with AC for distributed electricity (our homes) and DC for local power (batteries).  Now, in idea management we also have two flows, that I’ll call CC and POV.  Most people are CC’ers, they are not even thinking POV and thus are missing out on a critical use of idea management to improve their organizations results.  Let’s examine these flows and some of the issues around them.

CC for Community Contributed

Almost universally when I discuss Idea Management people are thinking about the approach of tapping into the large, general population to generate ideas.  The community generates the ideas and they flow into a process that reviews them and moves them forward or not.  They want engagement, input, volume, and the wisdom of crowds.  Let’s call this standard flow CC for Community Contributed.



POV for Process Owner Vetting

Here is the new twist.  Without idea management solutions, ideation is really owned by the business process owners.  Most product managers take pride in their ideas.  Yes, they reach out for ideas.  But, usually they believe they know best. They are paid to be great at it. This is the same for almost all existing business processes – process improvement, best practices, RFP proposal creators, program managers, HR policies, marketing managers creating collateral and campaigns, etc.

Then, here we come with Idea Management and suggest that they open up the process to the crowd and let a big flow come rolling in.  Organizations are doing this and the business process owners are adjusting; sometimes, with resistance.

Now, we take the next step.  The process owners aren’t stopping their innovation.  They are still coming up with features, ideas of their own, decisions.  So, now we get to POV or Process Owner Vetting.  How about the process owners taking their ideas and exposing them to the crowd to get feedback – to vet their ideas.  This is the essence of the POV flow of ideas.



Examples of POV

So, let’s look at a few examples of POV:

- a Marketing manager posts their ideas for marketing campaigns for vetting with the sales population

- the Executive team posts its ideas for company objectives to their mid-level managers

- a Product Manager posts their top 10 product features for their next rev of a product for vetting and ranking by the big community

- a Sales director posts their sales projections by product line for the year for the big community to rate (predictive)

- the IT Department posts every application that they are developing for business groups for all to vet

- the HR department posts new policies to the big community before they go into place and ask for feedback, comments, and questions

- the Best Practices group posts Best Practice articles and then receives ratings, comments, and questions to make best practices that much better


Impact of POV

Ask a business process owner and they tend to be more comfortable with CC.  Why?  Because they can always say no or defer.  But, ask them to go POV and vet THEIR ideas with the community and you’ll get some hesitation.  What if the community doesn’t like their idea?  What if the ranking by the community differs greatly from what they think?  You can sense the refrain “It will take time and I already know what I want to do.”  Yet, organizations are learning that vetting with a general population or targeted segments is a great way to be more effective.  Obviously, this is the whole point of test marketing and user testing that we have done for a long time.  But now, we can also do it internally and at a much smaller incremental cost.

POV scenarios are at least 50% of the way that you can leverage Idea Management solutions such as Cim.  Yet, we are only starting to understand the power of going POV in addition to CC.  The reality is that social tools such as Cim are primarily providing organizations with the ability to tap into the power of people – the power of the crowd.  Learning to tap the power of people starts with looking at your internal business processes and simply asking “How can we tap into our internal people and/or external people to improve our business results?”  Sometimes, the answer is CC to get peoples ideas.  Other times, the answer is POV to be able to vet ideas, thoughts, policies, objectives that you are working on.  You can use Cim to address both flows.

In the 20th century the AC and DC debate about electricity eventually worked itself out and became the vehicle to power growth and improvement in the quality of life.  To follow the analogy you could claim that the power for the 21st century business is people.  Learning when and how to use CC and POV to become a people powered business will take some time and getting used to.  But, the value is there.  


RFP Response Ideas and Input on Cim for Proposal Management

New Product Development and Process Improvement are obvious applications for CorasWorks Idea Management (Cim).  Our creative customers are starting to enlighten us with not so obvious ones.  Here is a good one – tapping into your workforce to generate ideas, input and information for a response to an RFP and pushing it into your Proposal Management response app.  We like it so much it is now part of our standard demo.  In this article I’ll discuss this business scenario.


The customer who came up with it is a very large government systems integrator.  They have built a project-oriented proposal management solution using CorasWorks on SharePoint.  It is very sophisticated with complex layers of security to support government security requirements and multiple vendors.

Their objectives are straight-forward – win more proposals and make money delivering.  How?  By tapping into their broad workforce to get good technical, delivery, operational ideas, input, and information up front and throughout the proposal process to improve their proposal, increase their chance of winning and their success in delivery and making money doing it.  Their approach is to use Cim to improve their process.

Basic Workstream Description


The flow works like this.  The RFP comes in from the prospect.  They then kick off a proposal site for the Response team in their existing system.  They begin their normal process.  Now, the change in process comes …

- The response team prepares a challenge site using Cim to get input from either a broad audience or a more select but large audience depending on the proposal.

- They set a limited timeframe for the initial response ideas, say 2 weeks to a month, to get input.  People contribute, vet, augment, rate, comment, etc.  Again, this may be a broad open challenge community or a private but larger community for invited participants.

- They then have a Screening/Review step where they screen the input.  The ones they like or need they push into the Response team site to use in the process of preparing the proposal.

- As new issues or topics come up in their proposal process they go back out to the community?  For instance, as they get through the process they may need to go back to test their assumptions on Resource Availability and Cost.  Thus, it becomes a supporting iterative application to augment the overall process.

The Diagram

Here is a diagram that lays out the basic workstream. It differs somewhat from a straight-through idea workstream like Process Improvement because the Proposal team kicks it off from the start.  In effect, the community element is a subset of their their overall proposal process.  It is an option, a tool they can use to broaden their chance of success.






The Demo Example

In our Cim demonstrations, we now have an example of this scenario.  Our scenario is commercially oriented – the ACME Widget Company has put out an RFP for vendors to propose their services/products that will help ACME reduce energy consumption at its manufacturing facility.

Below is a screenshot of the RFP Response Challenge community.  We are showing one idea that has been proposed.  Note that the contributor has attached key documents required by the process as specified by the response team.ACME

The full end-to-end solution

With the systems integrator customer mentioned above they have a CorasWorks based Proposal Management system.  That makes it a nice, end-to-end, pre-integrated solution.  However, you can also use simple native SP collaborative sites for Proposals or any that you have customized with or without CorasWorks.  CorasWorks natively integrates and allows for the downstream integration (pushing screened ideas into the proposal sites) with any SharePoint based site.  In addition, you can integrate this process as a bolt on to other third-party Proposal Management solutions such as Privia from Spring CM.  This can be done either through a non-invasive approach where you can easily see or access the selected information from the third-party app or actually push or pull the information into the database of the third-party app.


The goal of the proposal process is to win more proposals and to be able to profitably deliver on them.  Easily being able to tap into a broader group of people in your organization (or partners and vendors also) and integrate their ideas, input and information into the process improves your chance of success on both objectives.



Process Improvement Workstream with Cim v1.1

In previous articles on CorasWorks Idea Management (Cim) I’ve talked about the full solution and the business approaches to using Cim to drive your innovation process.  In this article, I’ll look at how you would use Cim for a specific business scenario.  It is a 3-phase, end-to-end workstream for process improvements that moves ideas from capture through review and approval and into the implementation phase. 

The Scenario

Imagine that an organizational has three main process areas that they are driving forward: Information Worker Productivity, Sales Processes, and Manufacturing. This Process Improvement Workstream implements a 3-phase process that cuts across the SharePoint landscape and drives an end-to-end process supporting all three.   

Below is a graphic of the 3-phase workstream.  It starts with the Process Improvement Community (a Standing Idea Community) in the Idea Portal.  This is where you capture ideas and collaborate.  You then have a Review and Approval Management Site.  This is where you work through the ideas to approval and add to a portfolio.  Then, you have three different implementation teams.  The approved ideas are pushed into these sites for implementation. 


From an implementation standpoint in this scenario, you would be using the off-the-shelf modules of Cim for the Community and Management phases along with native SharePoint team sites for the implementation phase.  We also leverage Windows Workflow Foundation to kick off notifications based upon rules at each phase of the process.  In the following sections, I’ll walk you through the deployment for each phase.

Process Improvement Community: Capture and Collaborate

In the Idea Portal you would deploy a Cim Community module that is tailored for Process Improvement ideas.  The tailoring might include a custom tagsonomy and custom fields for contributors.  The general community of users go here, contribute ideas and tag them.  Then, the community rates, comments, attaches documents. Ideas get rated based upon their Star Power.

Below is a screenshot of an idea that has been contributed.



Process Management Site: Screen, Review, Approve, Manage Downstream

This site plays a pivotal role in the process – interacting upstream and downstream and doing their work in the middle.  You start with the deployment of the Cim Portfolio Management site.  From here, this smaller team works with ideas from the upstream community.  In the middle they play their role: screening the ideas, selecting them for review, finishing off the ideas to propose them as projects, and voting and approving them.  Then, they are set to push the approved projects to downstream teams for implementation which they then track as part of their portfolio.  

In the screenshot below, a manager has selected an approved idea and is pushing it into downstream team sites.  Note that they are only filling in a few fields in the form.  As part of any CorasWorks workstream, the Action uses information from the existing approved idea along with the few fields they fill out to complete the necessary downstream information.  You’ll see the complete result in the team site below.  They do this work from their Management site, without having to go anywhere else.



Downsteam Implementation: Work Team Sites

Now, it is time to implement.  In this scenario, we have three implementation teams for process ideas.  We have set up these work sites using standard native SharePoint team sites.  This is where the teams work on incoming approved process improvements.  The approved ideas appear in their team sites as tasks.  They manage their own work team.  Each team is able to organize their content and internal work as they please.

Below is a screenshot of how the incoming items look to users.  They have everything they need to implement the process idea.  In addition, they have track-back URL’s to the approved project in the Management site and further upstream to the original idea in the Process Improvement community.  While working, Windows Workflow Foundation is used to automate notifications based upon the information that has flowed downstream.

implementation task



This Process Improvement Workstream provides you with an end-to-end solution.  You implement it using Cim off-the-shelf, with a bit of WWF for notifications, and some team sites.  It is a great way to start, but, it is just the beginning.  You can beef up the process with more robust downstream modules such as the Project and Program sites from CorasWorks PPM.  You can extend the Management site to incorporate additional supporting processes (eddies if you will in the workstream metaphor) such as supporting sites for specialized Review Teams to flesh out the ideas before approval.  You can also have different communities to segment the ideation phase say by division or purpose.  And, of course you can follow the same workstream approach to implement other workstreams for different business scenarios.

An important aspect when designing workstreams such as this is that they do indeed cut across a SharePoint landscape.  You have different modules in different phases in different departments usually implemented as different Site Collections and even Web Applications.  CorasWorks connects across all of these boundaries to enable you to have a fully integrated, end-to-end process where people can work from wherever they work.  In addition, as described above CorasWorks solutions natively integrate with any other sites in SharePoint and with Windows Workflow Foundation to drive notifications and updates.

This particular workstream is pre-packaged for Cim users and can be provided as part of your Cim Jump Start.  Look for more business scenario snapshots like this in the future…