Tag Archive for Idea and Innovation Management

Cim Customer Stories for Idea and Innovation Mgmt on SharePoint

So here is proof that My Sabbatical was rewarding for us and our customers – we just published two customer stories for Cim that I worked on during my sabbatical.  The stories are different types of implementations of Cim.  In this article, I’ll briefly cover them.  See the above referenced page for the story and screenshots.

Deluxe Corporation – Corporate Idea Management

This 6,000 person company used Cim for classic corporate idea management.  They have standing idea communities for General Ideas, Product Ideas, and Process Improvement.  They are driving activity using Campaigns and Challenges that target specific business objectives.  They are primarily focused on the targeting of ideation, capturing and collaborating. They determine the objective and then drive participation through campaigns thereby leveraging the experience of their employees. They then process the ideas and move them into the business groups for decision and execution.


US Navy CNIC (Commander, Navy Installations Command) – Enterprise Best Practices Process Management

This 50,000 person organization is using Cim to drive Enterprise Best Practices.  It is a fine example of an enterprise-wide, innovation process management solution.  They have an effective approach which is to drive the full process with two different and integrated workstreams.  First, there is an idea process.  The end result of this is implementations at bases around the world.  The successes then get validated.  Then, users submit these successful ideas as proposed enterprise Best Practices which goes through a second process.  The result of this is an enterprise level best practice.  This approach encourages broad innovation via the idea process and effective best practices because they are based upon validated, real world implementations.


BTW, see the screenshots at the Customer Stories page referenced above for nice examples of the Portal UI’s that you can do with Cim using the CSS-styled UI.



The Job of an Innovation System in Your Business

I’ve written a great deal about idea and innovation management.  But at the end of the day what is the job of an idea and innovation management system in your business?  Let’s try to get clear on this one…

Most businesses are really driving towards a single goal which is profitable revenue growth.  The goals are to increase revenue and control costs.  Yet, every business is different.  Each business can be mapped into key business drivers or elements that drive towards or away from this objective.  Examples of business drivers are product mix, markets we are in, channel effectiveness, marketing approaches, process quality, employee retention, resource capacity, employee health and health care costs, customer satisfaction, etc.  Each business has certain drivers that will determine its success.

In general, it is felt that innovation is needed to propel a business.  But, at the core what innovation simply represents is change.  Thus, to bring it all together, we are talking about changes that improve the key business drivers that drive profitable revenue growth.

We may already be quite innovative within our organization.  Obviously, every organization is innovative or else you wouldn’t get change.  So, what is the job of an innovation system in your business?  Why invest to have such as system?

In sum, it is a system that enables you to manage changes in your business drivers – ideally in the drivers that matter most.  By having a system in place you can more easily target the innovations you want, throttle the level of innovation, the direction, and the drivers that the change will impact.  You should be able to use the system to drive the flow of ideas when needed or to even slow them down or constrain towards more deliberate objectives.  It should enable you to gain the full leverage of all your people to target change when needed.  Your system should enable you to balance ideas that can propel innovation with the allocated resources to execute on them.  It should also make it easier to maintain a process around change that impacts your drivers with more consistency.  You should be able to track what changes were made that positively affected the drivers that drove profitable revenue growth.  It should provide you with visibility into what you invested in, plan to invest in, and could invest in to improve your business drivers.

From a senior executive level, it starts with knowing the model of your business and the key business drivers.  Then, you can use an innovation management system as a tool to manage the change that impacts them.  Like any tool you would want to apply it to manage the change of specific drivers at first and access its effectiveness and make sure that your people have a handle on how to effectively use the tool to get the results you want.  Then, you can apply it where and when you want to affect change.


3 Core Phases of Activity of an Innovation System

In our web cast on Cim this week we showed our new graphical breakdown of the three core phases of activity of idea and innovation management.  In presentations, our customers have found this approach to be very useful to plan how they are approaching innovation.  It also reflects the overall modular architecture of the Cim solution.  I’ll run through it in this article.

With CorasWorks Idea Management (Cim), we provide a solution that makes an end-to-end process for innovation possible on SharePoint.  We’ve architected our solution to be flexible.  We’ve broken the innovation system into 3 core phases of activity as pictured below.



The short take on the three phases is as follows:

  • Ideation – this where ideas are contributed and collaborated on by a broad community
  • Management – this is where a smaller group of people work the process of formally approving ideas and managing the overall process
  • Execution – this is where the heavy lifting occurs to transform approved ideas into innovations that drive business results

Below is a drill down of the three phases showing a summary of the types of activities we support and that may occur within each phase of activity.


The depth and scope of each of the above phases varies based upon the business scenario.  Most of our implementations have a robust Ideation phase that takes place in a central innovation portal or that is distributed across multiple departments of an organization, my sites, the enterprise portal, etc.  The Management phase depends upon the complexity of our customers’ process.  Usually, it begins rather simply, and, evolves rapidly as the organizations’ approach to decision making matures and their portfolio expands.  Most organizations start with no specific integration plan for the Execution phase.  They have existing ways of delivering results that fall outside of the normal scope.  However, armed with the CorasWorks Project Portfolio Management solution and our out of the box integration with team sites and custom applications – the execution phase tends to rather rapidly become part of their integrated innovation system.

To get a sense of how this looks visually, check out the Screenshot Tour of Cim on our website.


Idea and Innovation Management as an IT-Provided, Enterprise Shared Service on SharePoint

As CorasWorks Idea Management (Cim) on SharePoint gets out there more in the SharePoint enterprise community, IT departments are starting to look at providing Cim as an Enterprise Shared Service as part of their offering to the business groups.  I’ll address this by recounting an actual question and answer thread that I had with an organization. (NOTE: This article is written for those in IT with enterprise SharePoint experience). 

General Scenario:

The customer looks at Cim and likes the solution for their Idea Management.  However, they come to the conclusion that innovation within their enterprise is not a single, big solution.  Rather, they see it happening at the department and division level. They also want the burden on the business groups to support themselves assuming Cim supports this (For SharePoint enterprise accounts, this is actually very common).  Accordingly, they want to bring it up as an IT-Provided, Enterprise Shared Service, on their SharePoint infrastructure.  This means that they want to offer it “as an application service” on top of their SharePoint offering so that their different departments/business groups act as separate tenants (multi-tenant) and customize it to their local needs.    

Customers’ Definition:

The customer started off by very clearly articulating what they wanted as below:

“The idea is that IT will provide an Idea Management portal as a service to any department that wants to do ideation. This implies the following:

- Each department’s portal should be completely separate from the portals of other departments – it is not the idea that people from one department can access the portal from another department.

- Also any reporting should be separate.

- As IT only provides the portal, the department is still responsible for defining processes, responsibilities, user rights/management, etc. Each department should be able to set up these things itself, without intervention of IT.”

 Questions and Answers:

Question 1: Can you describe how you would simulate/create/configure your Idea Management solution to meet the needs as described above?

Answer 1: This design is supported by CorasWorks Idea Management on SharePoint – in fact, it is a scenario that we design for.  We refer to it as Cim as an IT-provided, Enterprise Shared Service.  IT instantiates the basic service and then “turns it on” for each department upon demand.  From there, the department administrator manages their Cim solution as part of their department work.

This is possible and practical for four key reasons: 

- First, Cim is a modular solution.  You build up your Innovation Portal from a number of modules (9 come with Cim v1.2); each can be Administered separately. 

- Second, Cim comes with point-and-click wizards that enable IT to offload the Administration and “power user” customization to business groups so that they make their changes without requiring IT involvement.  All CorasWorks customization is done without cracking any compiled code. 

- Third, this is possible because Cim runs on the CorasWorks Solution Platform v11 for SharePoint.  This contains the Dll’s that are installed once on the enterprise server farm, and then, the Cim solution can be made available to the department in a shared, multi-tenant fashion. 

- Fourth, our training and online community provides training on a role basis that is designed to separately train up the business groups on what they need to know. 

Question 2: What would be the "[deployment] architecture" of the tool to provide a service to different departments as described above? Does a complete separation of the different portals (from a department perspective) imply also different implementations, or can there be one "parent portal" (managed by IT), where IT can just create a new child portal for each department. Each department should in any case have complete control over its own child portal (see above).

Answer 2: Let’s start with the “basic Cim” implementation.  IT would install the CorasWorks Solution Platform v11 and Cim modules.  These are the core dll’s and module templates.  This would be available across the farm.  However, Cim, the solution is not yet instantiated.

From there, you can go either way as described above.

Approach 1: IT could bring up a central Innovation Portal.  This would typically be in its own Site Collection.  At the top level, just below the portal you would have the various modules for the central Innovation Portal.  At the same level, you would have the top site for the Department Portal. Below it, you would have the modules for that department.  A schematic of this is shown below.



Approach 2: This is similar to the above, however, each Department’s Innovation Portal is within its own Departmental Site Collection.  It may be the top level of the Site Collection or be a sub-level.  For instance, if they already have a top level site for the Department, the implementation would look similar to that above, however, their existing Department Portal replaces the Central Innovation Portal and the Department Innovation portal is below it (say where Dept 1 Portal is located).

In either case, each department would have control over its portal and the modules it uses, i.e., how many communities, its own reporting, its members and groups.  

NOTE: The departments have greater administrative control if they have their own Site Collection.  This allows for them to control the templates, features, and Site Collection Administrators.

Question 3: Linked to the previous question, how will each department be able to manage its own portal, e.g. do they have their own "admin console"?

Answer 1b: Each of the Cim modules has its own Admin console which are rather simple to use.  Thus, they can separately manage the Portal, their Idea Communities(s), the Reporting, the News service (they can control which sites within their department are linked to the News Service), their Blog, and their Management process.

Question 4: Linked to the first question, is custom reporting possible per department, configured by the departments themselves?

Answer 4: Yes, as above.  There are two main types of reporting in Cim – both can be controlled at the department level.  There is the Reporting Service.  This provides reporting on the Idea activity such as the Top 10 and the Dashboard.  It uses a portfolio approach, so you just add the Idea Communities for the department and the reporting lights up.  Then, in the Cim Management Hub, it has customizable Pivot reporting for management.  This is also configurable at the department level.

Question 5: To what extent can the tool be customized by ourselves (IT and/or business groups) and to what extent do you provide support for this customization?

Answer 5: The short answer is extensively.  Cim is very flexible in implementation and very customizable and extenable.  The key is that Cim runs on the CorasWorks Solution Platform v11.  It provides a robust set of point-and-click wizards to enable customization of Cim by non-technical users.  This means that departments can help themselves in most cases.  And, it allows extensive customization by developers without having to modify compiled code.  This would be for extreme cases where IT is brought in at the app level.

We have an extensive Training program that establishes four levels of customization for Cim and sample tasks at each level.  Our training is oriented towards these levels and supported by our Online Community.  Our standard set of training for an Enterprise Shared Services environment would consist of:

- System Administration Training for IT providing the service (not one of the four levels) – installing the platform and managing Cim as a service on SharePoint

- Cim Administrator (Level 1) training for each of the Department Administrators – things like how to create a community, change the navigation, etc.

- Cim Power User Customization (Level 2) for Dept Admins and Power Users – how to customize Cim using point and click wizards to the needs of the department

- Cim Builder Customization (Level 3) for more technical people (but not coders) – This would train a select group in IT or Business Groups in how to customize at a deeper level using Wizards.  They would know how to change the Stage-Gate processes and manage workflows.

- Cim Solution Framework Developer Customization (Level 4) for no-code developers – This training is available to teach people how to build new features without coding using our Solution Framework.  However, it is usually done by CorasWorks or Partners.

In General, we would train you on System Admin and Level 1 and 2.  You’d train the Department Admins on level 1 and a bit of Level 2.  Your IT group would probably end up learning a bit of Level 3.  CorasWorks and Partners support you up the stack.


Beyond the Q&A

The Enterprise Shared Application Service (ESAS) model for Cim is an excellent model for enterprises with an enterprise-wide implementation of SharePoint.  Why?

It makes sense.  The truth is that there is no one right innovation portal or process across an enterprise for all business scenarios.  However, with Cim on SharePoint, you set standards, control support costs, create supporting cross-organizational communities/resources, and allow the department/business groups to innovate on their own.  This way innovation is allowed to flourish locally based upon a supported standard enterprise-wide. It is Enterprise Innovation by design…

Further, CorasWorks is designed to make this work as follows:

- Cim and the CorasWorks platform are designed for shared multi-tenant services such as this.  The DLL’s are installed once, then, the tenants (different business groups) can customize their Innovation Portal as they see fit. 

- In addition, our pricing supports the proper charge-back.  We charge a flat organization license plus per user.  So IT pays the flat portion and the business groups pay for users as they come on board. 

- Lastly, CorasWorks supports loosely-coupled, federation.  Thus, while each department may have its own innovation process, you can create central processes that connect to various departments and allow you to do centralized management. These are loosely-coupled and you can make connections in minutes without disrupting the local work.  An example, is that you decide you want to farm the departments for Enterprise Best Practices.  This works across site collections and web applications (i.e, across the whole server farm).

Last note.  I have written about ESAS models in the past on SharePoint.  What is key here is that Idea and Innovation Management is a business application not a technical capability.  It moves IT up the stack as a provider of business application-level services vs. just capabilities.  And, it leverages the whole stack of investments they already have in SharePoint, thereby, reducing the normal cost, risk, and complexity.


Idea Management – Some Product Marketing Resources

In the last few posts, I’ve written quite a bit about the general Idea Management space, best practices, and how CorasWorks Idea Management for SharePoint is designed to support these requirements. Let me take a moment and point out some product marketing resources.

The main place to go is the Idea Management solution landing page on our web site.  Here you find a screenshot based Tour of Idea Management – the basics in 10 screen shots.  You’ll also find a detailed features listing.  It breaks up the feature set into 6 categories covering the following:

- Idea Community Portal

- Idea Communities

- Idea Portfolio Management

- Customization

- Administration

- General Platform Features

That information should get you going.  The next step is to request a demo of the solution.  There are links in the landing page area to make the request.  It is a great one to see in action – running on SharePoint 2007 or SharePoint 2010.

In case its too much trouble to head over to the landing page, let me drop a screenshot here to wet your appetite.  It is a shot of a detail page for an idea in an idea community within the Idea Community Portal.


This shot of idea details highlights a number of key Web 2.0 features:

· The use of CSS-styling for consistent Contribute forms across the community.

· Star rating and the Star Power algorithm.

· Comments, with email links, and recent comments (reverse order bookmarks)

· Group upload of documents – great for work sharing vs. hoarding documents in siloed, hidden team sites

· Status feedback and RSS feed subscriptions (subscribe by community, tag, author or individual articles)

Need more, drop me a line…