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Maturing and Structuring Ideas


This best practice offers guidelines for assessing, maturing and structuring ideas into solid opportunities. 

Assessing and Refining Ideas

Given a wealth of unfiltered ideas, the first challenge is to identify those that will product the most value. This can be done in phases. If information was gathered on flip charts, as a first pass, some organizations have people put colored dots on the ideas they feel would be most beneficial. If using electronic idea collection, then ideas can be voted upon electronically as a first pass of an idea’s relative popularity. Ideas identified as having plausible value proceed through the portfolio management workflow. The portfolio management process further categorizes, filters, scopes, and estimates the costs and benefits.

It is best to divide ideas into several categories depending on whether the idea has current or future value and which division is best suited to develop the idea. Some ideas may go into storage to be brought out at a later time when costs are more reasonable or the market more mature. Other ideas may offer an excellent partnering opportunity with another organization that has the specific capabilities needed for implementation. Eventually, your portfolio will contain a number of viable idea candidates for near-term funding.

During the filtering process or critical analysis of the idea, the review team needs to be realistic in exploring the different aspects of the concept while continuing to refine it. Sometimes, ideas can be combined to produce a stronger opportunity.  Likewise, the core kernel of an idea may be expanded to meet a broader purpose, which could make the idea more valuable. One consideration in filtering ideas is to focus on maturing ideas in a way that is not easily copied, adopted or improved upon by competitors. 

The team should also scope and estimate the idea to define the resources that are necessary to implement the idea. This is generally a rough estimate, typically with a plus or minus 50% accuracy. In addition, the team must determine if the idea requires a response at the strategic, investment, or project execution portfolio level. Further development of the ideas into structured opportunities with defined deliverables takes place within the portfolio management work intake process.

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