Here’s a guide for how to work with a contracted innovation service. Sometimes, it makes sense to work with an external provider since it can simplify things for you. You’ll also find out the best way to get into an agreement with innovation experts to help boost the potential of your business. It’s the surest way to get on the innovation fast track. Some of the main points include:
- How to prepare in advance of the consultation;
- How to ask crucial questions during the consultation;
- How to outsource new product development (NPD); and,
- How to improve in-house research & development (R&D) activities OR set them up from scratch.
Find out more about how Innovolo is a leader in Systematised Creativity here.
Be clear on what you want
Setting expectations, at the start, is the surest way to get the most out of any contracted service. Innovation expertise is no exception.
You can bolster the success of an innovation-based consultation by setting proper guidelines and being specific about what you’re looking for. To do so, look within your company’s crystal ball and come up with some answers to the following kinds of questions:
- What kind of innovation service do you want?
- Do you want help to develop a new technology?
- Do you want guidance on manufacturing and outsourcing?
- Do you want to innovate your marketing or branding strategy?
- Are you looking for coaching services to improve your organisation’s internal processes?
The number of ways that an innovation service can boost your business success is nearly limitless. Knowing what you need up-front can help describe expectations and set the collaboration up for success.
Don’t worry, we also know that expectations are a two-way street. That’s why we’ll never over-promise or over-inflate a solution. Honesty really is the best policy! And, for those businesses who truly don’t know where to start, that’s okay too! If you’re hopelessly lost and need some help to do an initial assessment, an innovation service can help with that, too.
Sometimes, a good way to visualise what you want is to imagine the opposite: what you don’t want. To use the process of elimination, try asking yourself this:
- What factors are you trying to avoid by choosing to outsource your company’s innovation strategy?
Sometimes flipping the question around can be a constructive exercise. As business strategy expert Michael Porter describes, “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do”. The trick here is to realise that you can’t do everything. There’s a tradeoff to every decision you make.
Understanding the tradeoffs, and how they impact your business, is a constructive exercise. By choosing to purchase innovation services, you might have to sacrifice another item on your purchase list. But what potential does a boost to innovation bring to your enterprise? Innovation has a compounding effect: an investment today can lead to massive payoffs down the road in terms of products and services, corporate culture, and creativity.
Knowing that these tradeoffs exist will make the innovation services easier to use and can help manage expectations throughout the process.
Use a common dictionary
Have you ever looked up the term “innovation”? The Cambridge dictionary describes it as “the use of a new idea or method”. That sounds pretty good. But we think there’s something more. The Oslo Manual, a guide used by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) describes innovation as going “far beyond the confines of research labs”, extending to “users, suppliers and consumers everywhere – in government, businesses and non-profit organisations, across borders, across sectors, and across institutions”.
Phew. Sounds like innovation really is everywhere! And we agree.
For your business, the term innovation might mean something else entirely. The same is true on the supply side – innovation consultants tend to define innovation differently. At Innovolo, we like to let the client take the lead on defining their ideas for our innovation services. Our most accurate definition of innovation relies on our client’s needs and what it takes to improve their businesses.
That’s why we consider communication such an important part of the innovation business. To have success, we need to put together a common tongue. Having a common dictionary helps to slice through complicated jargon and get to what’s essential.
One of the first things we like to do with new clients is to lay out the groundwork for having a great initial conversation. To truly understand the types of solutions needed, both the client and the innovation experts need to be on the same page in terms of language.
Our expertise lies in the following categories:
- Product design, including mechanical, electrical, and chemical engineering;
- Innovation strategy, including process and coaching improvements for your organisation;
- Project management, including planning, scheduling, budgeting, and defining roles and responsibilities so that no aspect of your project is ignored.
But that’s just scraping the surface. There are many more elements of innovation that we’ve experienced over the years and we’re confident that we can provide an amazing innovation-as-a-service package for you, no matter what you’re looking for.
Enter with a clear budget in mind
Companies are not always transparent when it comes to how much they are willing to spend. The consultation process is helped along if you come prepared with a clear budget in mind. Some advanced homework includes crunching some numbers on the back end to determine what kind of budget is reasonable for you.
The good thing about our Innovolo services is that the prices are set to match industry expectations. We’ve worked hard to come up with some creative and flexible payment options that can make the whole process a breeze.
Innovolo offers five unique pricing models to keep your financing decisions simple and hassle-free:
- Unlimited Innovation-as-a-Service: best used to explore the initial phases of R&D if you’ve not done anything so far, or if you’re on a limited, fixed budget
- Retained Innovation Services: best used for organisations that are already doing R&D and product development to some degree
- Pay-by-hour: best used for smaller projects or for when guidance is needed for underway projects;
- Pay-by-project: best used for when a clear scope of work and well-defined expectations are involved; and,
- Bulk hours: best used when there are multiple projects or when you anticipate lots of product development work. Innovolo can review the list of requirements and offer you a bulk-hours rate at a discount.
Why offer different pricing models? Because it provides the most flexibility for the client and it can help them save money.
Here’s the fun part: now you get to do some window shopping. Head over to our innovation-as-a-services page to determine what option works best for your specific budget.
Consider personnel and structure
Like a space shuttle landing on a moon, innovation services need a well-laid out a pathway to synchronise with the business. A ground crew is required to help transition the innovation services and facilitate conversations between providers, vendors, and the business.
Assigning proper personnel can make sure the innovation exercises are on-point and the communication flows efficiently. It’s always good to assign some roles in the organisation to be part of the crew that will work closely with Innovolo’s service experts. It’s good to provide staff with advance notice that external innovation experts will be working with the company. Your staff will appreciate it if you define why such a solution is required and are transparent during the process. It’s also good to provide your departments with updates on the progress and outcomes of the innovation services.
Another element of personnel and structure exists in the data. Innovation service providers greatly appreciate digging into the metrics of your business. This can occur by sharing things like annual reports, key performance indicators (KPIs), or other reports. Sharing information can help Innovolo understand the current status of the company and figure out a framework to boost innovation.
How does an Innovation Service work?
To meet your organisational needs, we use our custom-built Innovolation Framework™. It’s an agile R&D methodology designed to give you an advantage when improving your current product and services.
Our framework is a multi-step process that bolsters your new product development (NPD) from start to finish.
Working with a packaged innovation service means you can:
- Avoid the risks involved with “going it alone”;
- Avoid getting lost and confused due to complicated business processes;
- Avoid wasting your staff resources on misguided innovation attempts; and,
- Have the peace of mind that your innovation capabilities are in good hands.
With an innovation-as-a-service package, you get access to expert advice in the innovation industry as well as a dedicated Project Manager to help develop your initiatives. You also get regular updates throughout the process including monthly reviews and weekly progress reporting. That way, you can be assured that your new products or innovative ideas are progressing at a rate that suits you.
Why wait? Reach out today.