Why E-mails make bad Idea Management Solutions

February 26, 2007

This article has been moved here…..

It is a widely known fact that a large number of organizations do very little towards implementing a comprehensive idea management solution. Though a lot of them do follow the “email your suggestions” approach, very few stop to consider the detrimental impact of an approach like this. Listed below are a few points on the benefits and disadvantages of using a email based Idea Management Solution.

Benefits:

Wide audience : Since everyone in the company is listed on a central mail server, getting the message across is the simplest thing in the world.

Ease of use: E-mail is used on a daily basis by everyone, so using it as a platform to send and recieve ideas would be a straightforward excercise requiring very little effort.

Low cost : Almost every organization has their email systems already set-up, so the added advantage of rolling out a “zero-cost” initiative to most is too juicy an opportunity to pass up.

Drawbacks:

Unstructured : Since most emails can be sent in any format, creating a template doesnt do very much good as a lot of people will just bypass it ( as there isn’t a system in place to enforce these rules ).

Disorganized : Most ideas end up becoming large chain mails in the organization and the actual idea gets lost in the jumble of text. Tracking and Feedback : Its is extremely difficult to implement a tracking system to check the progress of an idea if it is in the form of an email. With hundreds of ideas being submitted , its impossible to organize them efficiently and thereby provide feedback to the submitters.

Evaluating : The biggest challenge of using a email based system to evaluate ideas is that evaluators arent given a platform that can help them rate and comment on the ideas they recieve and retrieve them in an orderly or structured fashion.

Unfortunately, while the points made above do have merit, the overal negative impact of an email based system far outweight the benefits. A dedicated standalone system is required to manage ideas, provide feedback and rankings and most importantly allow collaboration amongst your employees. The fastest way to cripple an initiative like this would be establishing a system that could not provide feedback to an employee on the ideas he’s submitted, allow him to take a look at other ideas, and most importantly establishing a ranking methodology where he/she is rewarded for the ideas.

More on Idea Management Systems to follow…….