In today’s highly crowded and competitive markets, the capacity of businesses to innovate is key to gain a competitive advantage and guarantee long term success. This is why more and more businesses rely on open innovation to mount their challenges and shape their business strategies. According to PwC’s 2017 Innovation Benchmark, 61% of respondents stated that they do embrace open innovation to generate new ideas and improve their offerings.
Employees, now more than ever, are expected to be collaborative, innovative and able to both collect and come up with new ideas on a continuous basis. However, this is easier said than done as innovation and idea management are rather complex processes that come with their fair share of challenges. With too many stakeholders involved, hierarchical barriers to overcome, a multitude of channels to collect ideas from, and a lack of processes and technologies in place, ideas might be lost and innovation hard to achieve.
Following the rise of collaborative tools such as Atlassian’s Confluence, businesses started to embrace technology and make it a vital part of idea management. This is where dedicated apps such as Ideation for Confluence come into play. Their capacity to streamline the ideation process, foster collaboration and bridge hierarchical gaps positions them as out-of-the box ideation hubs that can be built-in right inside Confluence.
Here are the main points that we will cover in this article:
- What is the ideation app by Vectors?
- Why do you need Ideation by Vectors?
- How to drive idea management in Confluence
1. What is ideation for Confluence?
In a nutshell, ideation by Vectors helps you to collect, generate, develop, organize and evaluate insights and ideas and turn them into actions right inside Confluence. The app is an ideal alternative to standalone idea management platforms that might not be integrated with Confluence.
Due to its rather simple and intuitive user experience, the Ideation app allows you to tap into a vast array of ideas from multiple stakeholders (be it employees, partners, customers, etc…). ideas that might have been otherwise undiscovered or lost in endless email threads, intranet streams, suggestion boxes and crowded meeting rooms.
Additionally, the app is structured in a way that facilitates the flow of ideas to reach key decision makers thus driving action and innovation. Each new idea is associated with a fully customizable and predefined process. This gives platform admins complete control and visibility over the entire ideation process.
Last but not least, the ideation app also enables you to run limited-time idea campaigns also known as idea challenges. The latter are a convenient way to create urgency, promote some sort of a healthy competition in the workplace, and get the best ideas out of your teams.
2. Why Ideation for Confluence?
- Accelerate the ideation process and drive innovation
Idea management is the first and one of the crucial elements behind any successful innovation management process. At the end of the day, innovation starts from a single idea which makes collecting, managing and evaluating it both critical and challenging at the same time.
More often than not, the lack of specialized tools coupled with the reliance on traditional idea collection methods such as suggestion boxes make the ideation process slow. By the time an idea reaches the right people (if it does), it may have already become outdated and obsolete.
The Ideation app is primarily designed to speed up the ideation process from idea collection all the way to evaluation and implementation. Once ideas are created within the app, they follow a set of steps predefined by the idea creator or platform administrators. Additionally, transitions between various steps are also manageable with the built-in workflow builder (more on this later).
- Foster collaboration and promote transparency
Transforming ideas from individual thoughts or their rough state to actions is a process that requires constant collaboration and above all – transparency. When ideas travel through multiple stages of the ideation process, they tend to evolve through direct feedback, suggestions and different perspectives.
To guarantee transparency and enable continuous collaboration, the Ideation app comes equipped with an ideation index page that encompasses all created ideas. Think of the index page as both a parent page and a dashboard containing all the relevant information about ideas, contributors, voters, sponsors and more. Here individuals (with permission rights) can provide their feedback, vote and sponsor ideas, among a host of other collaborative actions.
- Enhance engagement rates and boost employee morale
There is nothing more frustrating to an employee than not having his/her voice heard. The process of generating ideas obviously starts with the employee. However, if the latter is not properly equipped with the right channels through which he/she can share and suggest ideas, then your business might miss out on countless ideas.
With the Ideation app, we have placed the employee at the heart of the process. Through a host of social features, users can create ideas but also share, like, comment and vote for their peers’ ideas as well. This is obviously a win-win situation for both the business and employees. On the one hand, giving your employees a platform through which they can share their thoughts will help boost collective morale and increase engagement rates. On the other hand, you can have a rich and well organized ideation hub full of ideas from people who are actually involved in day-to-day operations.
3. How to create and manage ideas in Confluence with the Ideation app?
The process of creating and managing ideas in Confluence is made easy with Vectors’ Ideation app. It is worth noting that in this section, we will be demonstrating the cloud version which is a bit different from both Server and Data Center. If you wish to explore the main differences between versions, make sure to visit the documentation.
Now without further ado, let’s walk through the steps to help you get started using Ideation.
- Creating ideas
Your journey with the ideation app starts by, of course, creating your first idea. For this, you have to go through the following steps:
- click on “Create” from the Confluence top menu
- select the “Idea” template
- Add the relevant information about your idea (the title and description)
- Click on “Publish”
Once your idea is created, a page for that specific idea will be generated as well. There you will find a host of macros to help you effectively manage the ideation process and check idea information, voters, sponsors, etc…
The idea you have just created will also be visible within the ideation index page. As mentioned earlier, this page is a dashboard containing all the created ideas within your Confluence instance. The page consists of multiple macros (similar in a way to the idea page) where users can visualize ideas per status, check the most active contributors, create and vote for ideas, and much more.
- Voting for ideas
You can either upvote or downvote a given idea by pressing the up or down arrows. The number appearing between both arrows represents the number of upvotes minus the number of downvotes. To cancel your vote, press the arrow already selected or the opposite one.
- Sponsoring ideas
If you have been granted sponsorship rights, you can sponsor ideas from the idea page by simply clicking on the “Sponsor an idea” button. If you would like to learn more about the administrative part of idea sponsoring, make sure to check out the documentation.
- Managing idea status and workflows
Now that you have an idea about how to perform basic actions within Ideation, let’s move to more advanced features.
As already mentioned, we have developed the app with the primary purpose of helping teams and entire organizations effectively manage the ideation process from start to finish. And that involves mapping a clear workflow for one or a collection of ideas.
Although we are not going to dive deep into the administrative side of things (there is a documentation for that), we will try to walk you through the process of assigning a status to a given idea and how to manage transitions from the app’s admin panel.
- Idea status
Each idea is associated with a set of steps. There are three statuses available by default. Proposed, Evaluated and Achieved. They can’t be deleted (to prevent data loss) but they can be modified in terms of their title, colors, etc. You can also add additional steps through the administrative panel by clicking on “Add a status”.
- Idea workflows
Within the administrative panel, you can manage transitions between various idea statuses through both the table view or the brand new workflow builder.
The table view consists of four main columns : Start status, arrival status, roles and actions. The start and one or multiple arrival status are linked by arrows to showcase the transitions.
To edit or delete a transition, click on the menu button within the “Actions” column or simply hover your mouse over a specific status. Then, select either the edit or delete icons.
With the workflow builder you can move statuts freely within a drawing board. While you are doing so, a box containing the table view is pinned to the left side of the screen detailing the changes as you are making them. This is a more straightforward approach as you have complete visibility and hands-on control over the creation and management of statutes and transitions.
- Creating and managing idea challenges
Challenges are created within the administrative panel. From the “Challenges” section, select “Add a challenge”. Then fill the dialog box with your challenge’s information.
Once the challenge is created and users have been invited, they will instantly be notified and able to visualize the challenge in the ideation index homepage or left navigation menu. When they click on a given challenge, they will land on the challenge page.
The challenge page is structured in a way similar to a standard idea page and consists of multiple macros that would help users participate in a challenge, create and vote for ideas, leave comments, check idea statutes and top contributors and more. Additionally, the challenge creator(s) can both pause or stop a challenge before its end date.
The ideation app is an ideal complementary solution for Confluence users willing to get started with idea management. As we have covered in this article, the process of generating, collecting and implementing ideas can become a tricky one, especially in the absence of the adequate processes and solutions in place.
Ideation acts as your centralized, built-in idea hub where your teams can come together, share and discuss ideas. This has the potential to speed up the idea management process, drive innovation, foster collaboration and engage your teams.
To find out more about the Ideation app, make sure to visit the app’s page in Atlassian marketplace, access the documentation or reach out for a personalized demo.