How We Chose the Best Idea Management Software
Idea management software facilitates the generation, collection, and evaluation of ideas for advancements such as workplace changes and product improvements. Replacing the outdated concept of a suggestion box, these tools help organizations distill the multitude of ideas and suggestions from their workforce and zero in on those that are feasible and financially viable.
We identified three crucial features essential for success when adopting idea management software. These are organizational features, collaboration features, and integrations.
Organizational capabilities form the backbone of idea management software solutions. By this we mean the systems and processes used to collect, digest, sort, and analyze multiple ideas from a large community. While ultimate acceptance and final evaluation are the responsibility of relevant experts within the organization, it’s the underlying organizational features of idea management software that allow these teams to digest, organize, and collate different ideas. Key capabilities include focused suggestion campaigns, mind mapping, and idea ranking systems.
Just as with social media, collaboration tools help spread and share ideas, allowing different people to comment, build, and elaborate on the original idea. In this way, it’s possible to develop further insights and explore how an idea can be implemented. Key to this is a degree of transparency so staff can see and monitor how their ideas are developing. There may also be the need for some form of moderation to keep ideas on track and encourage positive contributions.
Idea management software should incorporate pre-built integration capabilities with other software used within the organization. This capability should include social media platforms used for interorganizational communication along with planning and tracking software used to manage day-to-day processes such as meeting calendars, email, project tracking, and file storage software.
The 15 Best Idea Management Software Companies of 2021
Acuvate is a pioneering software company specializing in technologically innovative solutions for transforming business using AI technology. Acuvate Wave is an idea platform intended to encourage ideas and solutions from within the workforce. It’s based on Microsoft SharePoint software. The Acuvate Wave software platform allows employees and customers to make suggestions and has advanced collaborative features for further developing these ideas. As well as being suitable for managing general suggestions and ideas, Acuvate Wave allows organizations to solicit targeted ideas for solving specific business challenges. It incorporates gamification features such as point scoring and recognition intended to encourage employee participation. The software has an idea management process that helps management score ideas received before submission to the ideas evaluation panel. It incorporates user-friendly dashboards for managing and monitoring progress and is compliant with the Integrated Security Monitoring and Compliance Standard. The software integrates fully with other Microsoft products such as Yammer and Office 365.
|Custom Quote||Free Demo Only||>Collaborative idea generation
>Web-based, cloud, SaaS deployment
>More features at Acuvate Wave
Pros & Cons of Acuvate Wave Idea Management Software
|>Sorts and rank ideas|
>Easy to use
|>No free trial
>Limited workflow management capability
Aha! was founded in 2013 with the goal of developing an easy-to-use, high-quality idea and product management suite. There are two products: an Ideas product and a Roadmap product. Ideas is a portal that allows users to crowdsource ideas, feedback, and comments from employees, customers, and partners. It includes tools for scoring ideas, managing approvals, and prioritizing requests and comes in two versions, a basic Ideas Essentials and more sophisticated Ideas Advanced. The Roadmap products incorporate Ideas Essential along with tools for strategy, planning, and scenario analysis. The software integrates with more than 30 popular applications, including Slack, Jira, Azure, Salesforce, and Google.
The platform is cloud-hosted and a separate mobile application allows users to manage projects when away from their desks. All data is encrypted and the software complies with the European General Data Protection Regulations, the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, and the Cloud Security Alliance. The software is free for start-up companies less than 18 months old with limited employees and funding. Alternatively, there are three paid Roadmap bundles available, from the Premium at $74 per user per month to Enterprise options that charge per workspace owner and contributor while allowing unlimited viewers and reviewers.
|Startup: Custom Quote|
|30-Day Free Trial||>Web-based, cloud, SaaS,
iPhone/iPad, Android deployment
>More features at Aha!
Pros & Cons of Aha! Idea Management Software
|>Free Trial available|
>Project management tools
|>Standard road map only includes Ideas Essentials|
Crowdicity Idea Management
Crowdicity is a British software company with offices in the U.S. and Australia. Its cloud-based software is accessible from Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. It allows users to easily configure challenges for the best results. This includes identifying the target audience and allowing authors to upload additional material to support their ideas such as videos, pictures, and documents. There’s a funnel system for systematically evaluating submissions and short-listing the best ones. Crowdicity provides an analytics feature based on Google Analytics, letting users measure performance and understand author demographics. This feature includes an intuitive dashboard for monitoring idea submissions along with the ability to export data in CSV form. Another useful feature is a searchable archive that allows you to access valuable historical information and track influencers. The software has gamification tools for encouraging competition, user tools for targeting ideas, and moderation tools accessible to all users. Crowdicity’s powerful API allows onward integration with third-party CMS software suites.
|Custom Quote||Free Demo Only||>Idea and challenge management
>Simple setup and launch
>More features at Crowdicity Idea Management
Pros & Cons of Crowdicity Idea Management Idea Management Software
>Accessible on all mobile platforms
>Comprehensive idea management features
|>No free trial
>Quote-based pricing only
CrowdWorx Innovation Engine
CrowdWorx is a German idea-generating solution based in Berlin but with applications in the U.S. and around the world. The company’s innovation and idea management platform includes a smart assistant feature that helps improve idea generation and quality. This feature checks for duplicate suggestions and includes an accessible knowledge base and a quality checking wizard. Screening and evaluation tools help decision makers quickly identify suggestions for approval.
Crowdsourcing features encourage input from customers and partners, while discussion and multiple voting tools help user groups develop and enhance ideas. This capable tool allows different user groups, departments, and divisions to set up their own workspaces and includes the ability to apply unique processes and screening tools. Automatic work processes reduce managerial workload, while fuzzy logic and intelligent search capabilities enhance idea generation. CrowdWorx’s scalable cloud platform provides easy access to mobile devices while providing accredited data protection security capabilities. A flexible API facilitates easy integration with corporate systems such as SAP, HR, and payment processing solutions.
|Custom Quote||Free Demo Only||>Smart assistant for better idea generation
>Automatic work processes
>Scalable for large and small applications
>More features at CrowdWorx Innovation Engine
Pros & Cons of CrowdWorx Innovation Engine Idea Management Software
>Well-suited for large organizations
|>No pricing offered
>No free trial
Dropbox Paper is a collaborative idea and work management tool. It’s offered as an additional feature for Dropbox users. This tool works best with established workgroups, letting individuals make notes, jot down ideas, and share thoughts with other group members. The tool allows users to embed their favorite applications so that results display just as they did in the original. Features include interactive meetings, brainstorming sessions, and project management. Dropbox Paper facilitates real-time idea development and group interaction.
As part of Dropbox, Paper is secure and accessible from anywhere in the world. It’s highly scalable with an uncluttered yet effective interface. Integration tools allow users to embed information from almost any application. Its real-time updating capability keeps remote teams connected.
|30-Day Free Trial||>Powerful collaboration tool
>Simple, easy-to-use interface
>More features at Dropbox Paper
Pros & Cons of Dropbox Paper Idea Management Software
|>Simple and easy-to-use interface|
>Integrated with Dropbox online storage
>Create and edit collaboratively in real time
|>Lacks idea ranking and management features
>Primarily a collaborative tool for teams
The first ExagoSMART edition was launched in 2008. Right from inception, this solution used patented predictive analytics mechanisms to help users develop ideas optimally. Starting with the IGNITION module, ExagoSMART uses targeted marketing tactics to solicit ideas from a selected group together with gamification tools to encourage participation. The IDEATION module expedites collaborative idea development and discussion. It incorporates tools to detect duplications and search and tagging mechanisms. IDEA EVALUATION includes a centralized dashboard for idea management. This incorporates patented smart crowd evaluation tools to identify the best ideas and detect herd behavior. Flexible workflow tools allow appointment of multiple evaluators and evaluation gates. A facility exists to record successful ideas together with feedback mechanisms for authors. Reward mechanisms include points-based prizes for initiators as well as for those who contribute toward idea development. There’s a participants leaderboard. The company offers consulting and technical support for first-time customers needing help to set up ExagoSMART. The software is available in multiple languages and incorporates security and data protection compliance.
|Starts: $3.50/user/month||Free Demo Only||>Targeted challenges
>Patented predictive analytics idea selection tool
>More features at ExagoSMART
Pros & Cons of ExagoSMART Idea Management Software
>Patented predictive analytics for selecting ideas
|>No free trial
>Poor integration with ERP
The eXo Platform is a flexible and highly configurable collaborative platform. The platform is open source and intended to be used as an enterprise digital workspace. The eXo portal incorporates a social layer to facilitate user-centric collaboration. This layer includes tools for task management, user forums, chat rooms, and calendars. A particular feature is the eXo Rewards capability that encourages employee involvement by facilitating user rewards and recognition and includes a secure wallet to collect reward tokens. The employee digital hub includes pre-built content management features. It facilitates employee involvement and content management as well as offering a platform for ideas and suggestions. Several versions are offered, including a stand-alone web-based platform as well as platforms built on top of Microsoft Office 365 and Google Suite. Depending upon the version, the software can be hosted in the public cloud, on Exo’s private cloud, or self-hosted. The eXo Platform includes an API allowing integration with enterprise software.
|Starts: $5/user/month||Free Demo Only||>Configurable collaborative platform
>More features at eXo Platform
Pros & Cons of eXo Platform Idea Management Software
>Flexible and highly configurable
>Well-integrated social platform
|>Many functions can be confusing
>Platform can be slow to open
>Not suitable for SMEs
Idea Drop is a British company offering a cloud-based idea management solution. Using the latest multitenant concepts, Idea Drop is hosted on Amazon Web services and complies with stringent European data protection regulations and security. The software incorporates powerful AI features to help sort and curate the best ideas. Whether it’s for simple improvement ideas or specific innovation challenges, Idea Drop makes it easy to submit suggestions and concepts including supporting documentation, photos, and videos. Uniquely, Idea Drop allows employees to remain anonymous. Automatic ranking and curating features ensure identification of the best ideas, and sophisticated filtering tools separate ideas into different categories. Idea Drop seamlessly integrates with the organization’s workflow. The solution includes gamification techniques such as rewards, points scoring, and deadlines to encourage participation. Collaborative tools allow other employees to join the conversation to further develop ideas, while authors can easily monitor the status of their ideas.
|Custom Quote||Free Demo Only||>AI features for ranking ideas
>Add supporting documentation
>More features at Idea Drop
Pros & Cons of Idea Drop Idea Management Software
|>Easy-to-use, intuitive interface|
>Available on any web browser
>Social features support collaboration
|>No free trial
>Pricing not clear
Ideanote was developed out of a desire to help corporations develop and hatch good ideas. The company is based in Copenhagen, and the all-in-one Ideanote cloud-based platform is now in use in more than 100 countries. Ideanote allows administrators to launch idea collections for new products, processes, and solutions in seconds. Unlike many other solutions that are based on user numbers, the Ideanote monthly license fee determines the number of ideas, administrators, and teams. The system supports an unlimited number of different missions, projects, and ideas, subject to these licensing limitations. Each user has their unique profile, allowing them to monitor progress of their suggestions. The idea interface allows users up to 2,000 words to fully outline their ideas, as well as the facility to attach supporting documents, pictures, and videos. Ideanote’s powerful collaboration tools allow teams to request additional input, invite others to evaluate the ideas, and target submissions. Integrated analytics supports reporting and idea tracking. The software supports five languages, including English. It also has single sign-on integration with Slack and Google.
|7-Day Free Trial||>Clean, uncluttered interface
>Unlimited number of missions
>Accepts supporting documentation
>More features at Ideanote
Pros & Cons of Ideanote Idea Management Software
|>Simple, uncluttered interface|
>Automate action to accelerate idea development
>Generous 2,000-word count limit for idea amplification
|>Limited number of ideas with basic subscriptions
Founded in 2009, IdeaScale now has more than 25,000 customers around the world. Based on the concept of a preselected community, IdeaScale encourages idea input in support of specific challenges and projects. Once an idea has been submitted, team members have the ability to comment and vote on ideas, facilitating greater buy-in and collaboration. IdeaScale includes tools that allow administrators to identify and merge similar ideas. Voting thresholds determine when ideas move onto the next level. As ideas are further developed, the system monitors progress, sending appropriate notifications to initiators and other team members. Powerful customization abilities let administrators tailor solutions to individual needs. These include customizable fields, smart tagging, workflow management, and language translation capabilities. Various licenses are available depending upon requirements. Based on a biennial license cycle, the Engage license supports basic idea collaboration, while the more expensive licenses include additional features such as software integration and management capabilities.
|Engage: $12,999/2 years|
Evolve: $21,999/2 years
Advanced: $34,999/2 years
Transform: Starts at $64,999/2 years
|Free Demo Only||>Highly customizable
>More features at IdeaScale
Pros & Cons of IdeaScale Idea Management Software
>Easy to set up
>Advanced licenses offer enterprise-grade features
|>Expensive for SMEs
>No free trial
MindMeister is a powerful mind mapping tool. This technique allows users to jot down connected ideas and creatively organize them. MindMeister is marketed as a SaaS cloud-based solution that’s accessible from any device that can connect to the internet using popular browsers. MindMeister offers a free demo but it’s also possible to subscribe to the free Basic version. This has similar functionality to paid subscriptions but is limited to a maximum of three mind maps. The Basic and Personal subscriptions are intended for individual use with appropriate functionality. Pro and Business subscriptions allow collaborative sharing with multiple team members. These include the ability to attach documents, pictures, and videos as well as to export mind maps as PDF or Word documents or to other mind mapping software. Team collaboration is facilitated by chat capabilities within paid subscriptions.
It’s possible to perform presentations from within the application or export presentations to PowerPoint. There’s a linked MeisterTask application that facilitates simple idea project management. MindMeister takes user security seriously with two-factor authentication, data privacy, encrypted communication, and secure hosting on an ISO-certified data center.
|Free Demo Only||>Create and share mind maps
>Unlimited number of mind maps
>More features at MindMeister
Pros & Cons of MindMeister Idea Management Software
|>Easy to use|
>Export ideas as documents or presentations
|>No mechanism for curating ideas
>Integrations limited to export as a document
Planbox is an innovation platform intended to support life cycle portfolio management. The company offers a range of cloud-based solutions that incorporate artificial intelligence features that reduce time from idea to outcome as well as enhance the quality of solutions developed. The company offers two connected idea management solutions: Agile Management and IdeaConnection. While the Agile Management platform focuses primarily on organizational planning, continuous improvement, and management capabilities, IdeaConnection provides internal and external crowdsourcing idea generation capabilities. A specific feature of Planbox is that it describes its solution as both an agile innovation platform and a program. Monthly fees start at a reasonable $5 per user, but Planbox’s preferred approach is to work with clients to design and develop specific programs to meet the organization’s needs. Features of Planbox software include the ability to run public and private challenges, technology scouting, idea rallies, mind mapping, gamification, and work process automation. Planbox integrates with many popular applications such as Slack, SharePoint, Dropbox, and Zapier. Planbox complies with data protection regulations and has state-of-the-art data security features.
|Starts: $5/user/month||15-Day Free Trial, Free Demo||>Comprehensive platform
>IdeaConnection for idea generation
>AI-supported Agile Management workflow platform
>More features at Planbox
Pros & Cons of Planbox Idea Management Software
>Strong customer support for developing effective programs
|>Scoring ideas time consuming
>More of an agile management platform than idea platform
Qmarkets Idea Management
Qmarkets offers a comprehensive range of idea management solutions. These include Q-ideata, Q-open, Q-scout, and Q-optimize. Each is available in one of three editions. There’s the Start edition that comes prebuilt with Qmarkets’ best practice evaluation processes, the Flex edition where these practices are adjusted to suit client needs, and the Max edition that’s fully customized to suit enterprise-grade needs. The software is available as a SaaS service on Qmarkets’ secure cloud or may be deployed on-premise. Qmarkets idea management process follows the standard process of project configuration and definition, collaborative idea submission, screening and evaluation, implementation, and analytics. Specific features of idea collection include the ability to run internal and external campaigns, online brainstorming, and gamification. Screening and evaluation features include intelligent crowd voting tools along with automated pipeline management. Built-in project management tools guide implementation, while configurable reporting allows you to track results and ROI.
|Custom Quote||Free Demo Only||>On-premise or SaaS
>Use as-is or configure to specific needs
>Classical idea management capabilities
>More features at Qmarkets Idea Management
Pros & Cons of Qmarkets Idea Management Idea Management Software
|>Excellent initial and ongoing support|
>Ease of use
|>No free trial
Soapbox has a unique philosophy: to help managers effectively manage their teams’ activities, provide coaching in good managerial habits, and reduce bureaucracy. It does this by allowing managers and teams to proactively collaborate, exchange ideas, and provide feedback using the Soapbox app. Whether it’s a one-on-one or team meeting, participants can put items on a shared agenda, discuss agenda items before the meeting, participate, and agree on follow-up actions. Meeting minutes are baked into the application so decisions are properly recorded. The platform supports setting collaborative goals and objectives and keeps them in plain sight so they aren’t forgotten or neglected. Analytics tools extract pertinent information, helping managers lead teams proactively. A comprehensive set of meeting and agenda templates helps you get started. Soapbox is a subscription web-based service accessible from Mac, Windows, and mobile devices. The application integrates with Google, Microsoft, Zapier, and Slack and is available as a free trial. The basic app is free, while the pro version starts at $5 for the first five users and goes up to $7 for the next 95 users.
Pro: Starts at $5/user/month
|14-Day Free Trial, Free Demo||>Collaborative management tool
>Guided agenda setting
>More features at Soapbox
Pros & Cons of Soapbox Idea Management Software
|>Simple, easy-to-use interface|
>Facilitates two-way manager-employee interaction
>Reduce bureaucratic processes
|>Limited idea management tools
>Only for management and teams, not external
Viima was developed out of an accelerator program for entrepreneurship at Aalto University in Finland in 2013. The software is hosted in the cloud and is offered as a SaaS service. Three versions exist: Basic, Premium, and Enterprise. The basic version is free for a certain number of users, while the premium costs $5 per user per month. There’s a custom charge for the tailored enterprise version. The basic version incorporates a full set of features, including idea generation, idea sharing, visual ranking, filters, idea responsibilities, gamification, and basic analytics. The premium version includes all basic features and adds more advanced idea evaluation techniques, unlimited user boards, real-time updates, business impact analytics, and intellectual property protection as well as a documented JSON REST API. Enterprise users can host the software on-premise, fully integrated with corporate systems, and access research and development collaboration tools. A mobile application is available. The software is GDPR-compliant, and users can adapt features to suit individual needs.
Enterprise: Custom Quote
|Free Trial, Free Demo||>Free fully functional version
>More features at Viima
Pros & Cons of Viima Idea Management Software
|>Fully functional free version|
>Reasonably priced premium version
|>Limited idea updating capabilities
>Idea processing features limited
What Is Idea Management Software?
Idea management is an organized process to solicit ideas from the wider community to resolve particular issues or for general improvement. The process uses idea management software to create an effective structure that ensures each suggestion is read, evaluated, and responded to. Characteristics such as transparency, structure, and clear policy help make idea management systems more effective.
Idea management software incorporates four distinct processes. These are:
- An idea portal
- A robust evaluation process
- Managed implementation process
- Feedback, analytics, and rewards
Idea portals are where authors enter their ideas. Often these are in response to a question or challenge, such as how to solve a production problem. Administrators can target specific groups within and outside the organization or open them to anyone who has an interest.
The next crucial step is unbiased idea evaluation. Ideas are categorized and scored, a process often aided by artificial intelligence and automation, to distill the best ideas. Expert teams may be called in to investigate idea feasibility. In some instances, team members vote on ideas or submit supporting comments. It’s essential this process has credibility, transparency, and lack of bias.
Managed idea implementation is crucial for success or else many ideas simply die. Key elements include assigning responsibilities, provision of resources, and a managed project plan. Some organizations have specialized idea implementation teams, while others allocate responsibility to the department benefiting from the idea.
Finally, authors need feedback and when appropriate, financial or other rewards for recognizing and putting forward good ideas. Analytics, reports, and monitoring processes are essential for monitoring progress, resolving blockages, and determining ROI.
Benefits of Idea Management Software
The primary benefit of idea management software is that it destroys hierarchical processes that so often impede ideas from the floor. This is crucial, because the best ideas often come from those who experience problems on a day-to-day basis.
Idea management software allows good ideas to surface and often brings in immediate benefits. In many ways, idea management is very similar to the highly effective workplace Kanban system that encourages workplace suggestions for continuous improvement. The potential financial benefits of a structured idea management solution are immense.
Idea management systems give impetus to idea generation and facilitate a structured environment to ensure ideas are implemented quickly. They encourage people to talk about and discuss new ideas and support innovation and change. Idea management software creates a mechanism to proactively manage ideas and transparency in terms of how ideas are dealt with.
Idea management systems help reduce costs, increase revenue, increase employee engagement, and enhance the organization’s competitive advantage.
Must-Have Features of Idea Management
Many of the most popular idea management platforms share a similar set of must-have features. These include:
- Ease of use: Platforms should be easy to use, especially for idea authors. There should be sufficient space to clearly outline an idea along with provision for supporting documents.
- Mobile access: Whether cloud-hosted or on-premise, the platform must support mobile devices that allow users to jot down and work on ideas at any time or place.
- Crowdsourcing: The ability to search for ideas from a wide group of people, including but not limited to employees, customers, and interested public.
- Campaigns: Focused campaigns where groups are asked to contribute ideas towards solving a particular issue or challenge.
- Effective workflow processes: A flexible yet structured workflow process to ensure each idea is evaluated, rated, and scored. It should include deadlines, processes, and monitoring capabilities.
- Transparency: It’s essential the process is transparent to authors, colleagues, and management and that evaluation criteria are open and unbiased.
- Gamification and rewards: There should be mechanisms allowing users to compete for rewards and recognition to create interest and enthusiasm.
- Collaboration: The platform should support collaboration between users — for example, including the ability for others to comment on and add to ideas and also to vote for the best ideas.
- Automation and AI tools: Tools to help reduce the workload of evaluating ideas such as ranking and categorizing ideas based on predefined criteria and automated process management and for detecting similar or duplicate ideas.
- Integrations: Pre-built and API integrations with social media, project management, workflow management, corporate sign-on systems, and other related management systems.
- Database: A searchable repository for ideas, accepted and rejected, to help rediscover ideas and nuggets that have future benefits, as well as to determine if similar ideas have already been processed.
The Cost of Idea Management Software
The cost structure for idea management software varies widely. At the one end there are clearly defined costing solutions for SaaS software that has a fixed monthly or annual fee per user, idea, or number of installations. At the other end, there are quotation-based costings for complex corporate idea management solutions.
SaaS fixed-cost solutions are simpler and more predictable for small organizations, and it’s generally possible to determine up-front software and support costs. Many come with limits such as a maximum number of users, the number of ideas that can be handled simultaneously, and the number of separate projects that can be run. Also, customization and integration features may be limited.
Quotation-based solutions are generally intended for large organizations that need additional capabilities such as customization, multiple sessions or sites, cloud or on-premise hosting, the ability to configure each application differently, and a need to integrate idea management software into corporate workflows. Vendors of such software often offer extensive customization and implementation support.