An Innovation Funnel Management Process is the approach used to narrow down ideas for an innovation process or project into a feasible and realistic plan of action. The general process of the innovation funnel consists of generating a large number of possible ideas, a handful of which are then fine-tuned and converted into formal development plans, thus creating a “funnel shape.” The overall objective of the Innovation Funnel Management Process is to prioritize ideas to ensure the best ones are fully developed and advanced as projects, products, or other innovations. Innovation Funnel Management is often part of the larger Stage Gate Innovation methodology or process.
What is the Innovation Funnel Management Process, and what are best practices, tools and online templates for teams and organizations?
Definition of the Innovation Funnel Management Process
Description of the Innovation Funnel Management Process
The Innovation Funnel Management Process requires that each idea be carefully and continuously compared against a series of rules, filters and criteria. Importantly, the Innovation Funnel Management Process is not limited to novel inventions or processes but also to current projects, which should constantly be re-evaluated against the same set of criteria to ensure that they are optimal.
Whether your team is developing new ideas or refining old ones, to begin the innovation funneling process, your team should generate a number of criteria concerning the feasibility and timeline for your innovation plan. Some examples of the types of criteria that should be considered the ability of the idea to address unmet customer needs, fit with the organization’s strategy or strategic objectives, and the level of risk or investment involved.
After generating your criteria, encourage your team to think of as many solutions to whatever problem the organization is hoping to address. Following this brainstorming phase, compare each idea to the criteria that were generated and eliminate the ones which do not measure up. As a possible alternative, rather than comparing each individual idea against the criteria, some prefer to group the ideas by theme and compare the larger themes against the set of criteria as part of the affinity diagramming process. Regardless of the path chosen, whichever ideas or themes remain, consider what resources your organization has to fully develop or execute on the concept. Focus on developing the ones that are achievable within the given timeframe for your goals.
When creating the development plan for the most feasible ideas, identify the goal or metrics within each phase and create a timeline for achieving them. Also determine how many and what organizational resources will be needed for each step, and then track progress toward each benchmark and adjust as necessary. As with all innovation processes, support from top-level executives is critical to ensure ideas inside the funnel move forward at an acceptable pace.
Tools & Templates
The Innovation Funnel Management Process will visually look like a funnel with the most ideas at one end and top priority, selected ideas at the other. The major components of the template are the “idea generation,” “idea development,” “concept development” and the “launch” phases of the funnel process. Ideas generated at the beginning of the process are often evaluated with the least quantitative criteria since many ideas will exist and a rough “swag” is often enough to determine which ideas should be developed further. Ideas are then placed in the “idea development” phase. Ideas that pass criteria within this step move to the “concept development” phase. Those ideas that are selected to be formally developed are then moved into the “launch” section of the template.
upBOARD's Online Innovation Funnel Management Process Tools & Templates
Unlike most traditional Innovation Funnel Management Process techniques, upBOARD’s online Innovation Funnel Management Process collaboration tools allow any team or organization to instantly begin working with our web templates and input forms. Our digital platform goes far beyond other software tools by including progress dashboards, data integration from existing documents or other SaaS software, elegant intuitive designs, and full access on any desktop or mobile device.
Learn more about upBOARD’s library of other innovation management online best practice tools and templates, including:
Agile Innovation Process, Business Case Development, Business Model Canvas, Concept Development, Concept Screening, Concept Testing, Customer Empathy Map, Customer Problem Statements, Design Thinking, Innovation Funnel Management Process, Innovation Horizons Model, Innovation Roadmap, Jobs to be Done, Lean Startup, Listening Hats, Open Innovation Process, Painstorming, Rapid Prototyping, SCAMPER, S-Curve Mapping, Stage Gate Process, Technology Life Cycle, Technology Scouting, and Teece’s Win-Lose Innovation Model.