One piece of feedback that I hear on Idea Place is “Why should I contribute on Idea Place when so few ideas are delivered?” This comment is referring to the statistics on the front page of Idea Place (https://ideas.sap.com) that today show 11,693 Ideas and 342 Completed Ideas (Delivered). I am here to say that this is good, SAP is listening and we’ll make it better so please keep contributing.
Why is the current number of Delivered ideas good?
Why good? Because this has been expected. When looking at the industry, the number of Delivered ideas is comparable to other sites. For example, DELL Idea Storm (http://www.ideastorm.com) at year 3 had roughly 10,000 ideas and 100 implemented.
But Idea Place has bigger plans as did DELL. DELL Idea Storm now 5 years in, has 17,000+ ideas and 500+ ideas. So why the jump? Well, for SAP, the challenge has been timing of Product Development Lifecycles.
How do Product Development Lifecycles affect the number of Delivered ideas?
The Product Development Lifecycle describes how a product goes from gathering ideas to product delivery. And for most mature on-premise products the lifecycle occurs within a 2-3 year time frame. So if you submit an idea now and it is ‘Accepted’, it won’t make it in the product for next 2-3 years. And I do need to clarify these are ‘ideas’. If you have a bug or a critical enhancement request then these need to be submitted via the SAP Support portal and the chosen submissions will likely make it in a service pack delivered much earlier.
Either way, if Idea Place continues along its current progress, I expect we will see the number of Delivered ideas, triple in the next year or two.
So how is Idea Place really doing?
But, to get a more accurate idea of how Idea Place is performing, do not look too broadly. There is a lot of activity; it just requires some drill-down. Some sessions are doing better than others and ideas can be in several stages including ‘Under Review’, ‘Accepted’ or ‘Not Planned by SAP’. We can see some idea sessions which have Delivered many ideas:
|Idea Session||Delivered Ideas|
The best way to validate for yourself, is to find your favourite idea session from the navigation and on the idea session click on the ‘Delivered’ tab. There you will see all the ideas delivered for this idea session topic.
Example with SAP Business One.
The Status Quo is Not Good Enough. What else can be done?
There are several areas we are currently looking to improve the delivered ideas:
Shorter Development Cycles
First, Idea Place has many product/solution idea sessions that allow any ideas. These broad areas correspond to major product releases and represent the majority of Idea Place Idea Sessions. Moving forward we will expand Idea Place to focus on shorter time Idea Sessions. Idea Sessions that have a timed idea submission combined with a short delivery cycle will deliver more ideas in a shorter period of time. These could be targeting a specific push on an area in an existing product or perhaps the ideas being provided are for a faster delivery product/solution including onDemand, mobile, partner solutions and startups.
Increase quality of Ideas
One change we are going to make is to start focusing on higher throughput of quality ideas. More efforts will be put into the beginning to increase the quality of ideas. This of course will reduce the amount of submission. Of course more quality submissions means, more people will understand them, vote on them and as well make the ideas more clear for product and solution managers to review.
Get the Votes Up
This is where product and solution managers need your help. When good ideas do not get a lot of exposure, they may only have 5 votes on them. An idea with 5 votes is no better than a small focus group. Idea Place has the potential to create a significant value add by showing 1000s of votes on ideas. This sort of ‘market’ validation provides a stronger weight to product and solution managers to pay attention. With enough votes and thus demand, SAP has a stronger business argument to get features into a product.
Idea Place started as an experiment and we have learned a lot along the way. Some areas are more successful than others. But current success isn’t a reason to stop improving, let’s keep the momentum, and as Richard Branson says ‘focus on successful practices’.
Please share your thoughts and I am specifically curious for ideas on how to improve the number of delivered ideas.