Innovation and project management: 3 attention points!

In order to remain leading in the market as an organisation, it is necessary to continuously improve your products and services. That is why organisations keep innovating and experimenting. Innovative developments are often carried out on a project basis. However, how such a project is managed can have a major impact on the success of the project. The degree of innovativeness of a project requires different management approaches and tools. Radical innovation projects, for example, have a larger risk factor, which makes organizations more likely to make funds available for the less innovative and risk-bearing projects. There are not always enough resources available to carry out every project. This insight provides a number of tips for stimulating the more radical innovation projects as well. After all, these radical innovations are essential to keep renewing the organization!   

1. Appropriate strategy and evaluation and assessment criteria

An appropriate strategy and evaluation criteria are important to successfully manage different projects within your organisation. To this end, a distinction should be made between projects based on novelty and degree of risk, so that resources are also made available for the more radical and risk-bearing projects. In order to make the right resources available and to assess each project, the following way of managing projects can be used:

Strategic buckets
To create the right balance between projects, you can use the so-called "strategic buckets", a way of portfolio management. This is a strategic approach to allocate your available resources to projects. In order to work with strategic buckets for innovation projects, roughly 6 steps can be taken:

An important advantage of strategic buckets is the ability to link strategy and spending. After all, available resources are allocated to projects with the help of your strategy. In addition, it is possible to use different criteria for different project types, such as projects for new product development and product renewal, because of the different buckets. It is also possible, for example, to make a difference between projects aimed at existing markets or at new markets.

2. Collaborations internally and externally

Collaborations with internal colleagues and external partners are important for projects in order to obtain the right knowledge and resources. Especially for larger innovative projects it is often important to join forces internally with departments, but also externally when certain knowledge or resources are lacking.

In order to stimulate internal collaboration, it is important to build bridges between departments. In practice, it often happens that there is not optimal cooperation and projects run alongside each other and therefore no knowledge is shared. As a result, a project can be difficult and innovation is hampered. Also, it does not always improve efficiency. In order to stimulate cooperation between different departments and thus make innovative projects more successful, one can work with:

  • Een intern innovatieplatform. Op dit platform kunnen ideeën met elkaar worden gedeeld en besproken en de voortgang van projecten gevolgd. Alle medewerkers kunnen actief bijdragen, door bijvoorbeeld ideeën te posten of door te reageren op een idee. De haalbaarheid en potentie van een idee wordt zo besproken en ontstaan er in samenwerking de beste ideeën. Daarnaast wordt samenwerking tussen units, afdelingen en vestigingen gestimuleerd. Via het platform kunnen ideeën top-down (via challenges) of bottom-up gestimuleerd worden.
  • Expertgroepen. Voorbeelden van expertgroepen kunnen zijn: artificial intelligencevirtual reality en blockchain. Mensen met kennis over een van deze onderwerpen kunnen samen een expertgroep vormen en projecten oppakken, naast hun werkzaamheden voor de eigen afdeling. Ze kunnen ook worden ingeschakeld bij lopende projecten, om zo deze specifieke kennis in te brengen. Doordat ze een expertgroep hebben gevormd worden ze makkelijker te vinden voor hun collega’s.    

Radical innovation projects can also be stimulated through collaborations with other corporates or startups (e.g. IP licenses and alliances). By working together with other companies, the (internally) missing complementary resources/competencies/knowledge can be obtained, making more radical innovation projects more successful. Start-ups have potential technological strengths that a corporate, for example, does not have. Conversely, coporates may have certain resources that start-ups lack, such as financial resources, large networks and brand awareness. There are many variants in which cooperation can take place. This ranges from purchasing (or hiring) certain knowledge, to entering into a 'strategic alliance', in which several organizations work together on a project that is often innovative.

In 5 steps to a clear annual plan on 1 page!

3. Involvement of end users

Innovation can also be stimulated by involving your end user in the development of new products or services. By involving your end user in the development process, the user is more stimulated to think about possible improvements and can thus contribute positively to the development of products/services. When this is done, the value of the innovative product or service is increased, which will lead to even more innovation and customer satisfaction. Besides better ideas and products, a closer involvement of the end user can also lead to cost savings and a faster market introduction of your product or service. Customer loyalty and customer loyalty will also be strengthened, resulting in less customer turnover and more repeat purchases and brand ambassadors.

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