For teams balancing multiple stakeholder needs, varied technical requirements or diverse target audience perspectives, running a technical ideation session where all parties leave with a clear understanding of deliverables and software development plan next steps can seem as foreign as thermodynamics.
The good news is — it’s less about entropy and more about who you invite to the meeting and how the session is structured.
MentorMate Solutions Architect Kyle Simmons and client partner Molly Schroeder EdTech Team Executive Director of Summits co-present on tips and best practices for building a collaborative software development plan. We call this process ideation.
+ Software development plan best practices
+ What ideation is and what it isn’t
+ Scenarios where ideation can help businesses save
+ Who benefits from ideation
+ How ideation helps businesses structure design and development
+ Stakeholders you need in the room for ideation
+ Prioritization and collaboration strategies
Understanding the Ideation Process
No two ideation sessions are the same — neither are two business problems. Instead, the sessions are highly-interactive and customizable. While some sessions may involve prioritizing features for development, others may start by identifying the purpose for software development and voting on features from there. Still others, center around a discussion of the right technologies and platforms to realize the development idea.
The key word is, “Need.” Each session is built around the need of the client. How do you go about choosing the right ideation structure to discuss your upcoming software project? What questions do you ask?
3 Reasons You Should Run an Ideation Before Building a Software Development Plan
1. Balance Business Priorities
Rapid Ideation succeeds where so many other planning engagements fall short by giving key company stakeholders a voice. By inviting leaders from different departments at the beginning (who may be competing to realize certain of the development tasks throughout the software life cycle) all relevant needs are laid plain. Mediation by a third party helps find alignment and bubble the tasks impacting business drivers to the top of the release schedule.
2. Share Technical Knowledge
Rapid Ideation is a truly collaborative process. While the development team learns more about the business need and users, it’s also a time to educate stakeholders about the potential capabilities and constraints of various technologies and strategies in consideration.
3. Co-create the Solution
While businesses may have a loose understanding of the development piece needed, they may not know how it looks or how it should function to maximize their development budget and resources. Rapid Ideation is not intended to solve the business problem stated in the proposal; rather it is intended to further define the problem, desired outcomes, and relevant audiences, and collaboratively define a solution within this context. Ideation sessions should always include a UX designer and technical SME — that way participants can negotiate functionality and react to sketches in real time.
4. Visualize/Assess the Viability of the Idea/Existing Infrastructure
Most teams use ideation as a starting point to determine the business needs, core users, development priorities and gain consensus on the look and feel of the solution. Next steps can materialize in a variety of forms following the session. They may include the creation of low or high-fidelity wireframes, a clickable prototype to test or detailed screen mock-ups with typography and a color scheme selected. Whether you are pitching a software concept to internal leaders or potential investors visualizing the end result is key.
Sometimes the focus is less on design and more about assessing the ability of existing architecture to integrate with a new solution or third-party tool. With technical compatibility and flexibility top-of-mind, the output of ideation may be a technical review.