The initial challenge
Being a company in a mature industry, it’s imperative for Haley & Aldrich to stay ahead of the competition and ahead of the challenges their customers may deal with in the future. Haley & Aldrich does this is by connecting their people to knowledge, and a big focus on innovation. This isn’t just a core value listed on their website, this is something they practice each day. “Innovation is part of our DNA,” says Ben Chandler, Chief Innovation Officer.
Haley & Aldrich has a corporate culture rich in creativity, and with many employees in the field and spread across offices throughout the U.S., innovative ideas were often lost due to lack of processes needed to progress them. “They were sharing ideas in pockets or trying innovative things on project-specific challenges, but without a system or platform, their ideas were lost to the wider organization,” says Knowledge Manager, Melissa Dixon. With their work being client project driven, ideas that were relevant to the current project would surface but then be forgotten once they moved on to the next project.
In 2017, the company embarked on a program of proactively soliciting employee ideas. They ended up with a spreadsheet of ideas spanning from incremental improvements to things that could be game-changing. The spreadsheet was a move in the right direction, but they still needed a way to assign reviewers and allow visibility into the ideas pipeline. Management also needed a way to focus the creativity of the employees to generate ideas aligned to corporate strategy and/or specific client challenges. It was around that time that the company was starting to use Microsoft Yammer in addition to SharePoint, so they were inspired to also have a way for employees to see and interact with the ideas.
“We identified $1 Million of lost revenue per annum through the collection of ideas submitted through edison365ideas. That was within the first few months of turning the system live and so we’re excited for what other impactful ideas are put forward in the future.”
- Ben Chandler, Chief Innovation Officer at Haley & Aldrich.
At this point they started to research idea management software and met edison365 at global innovation conference. “The look and the feel of edison365ideas was better than anything I had seen,” says Chandler. With edison365ideas offering the right amount of flexibility to customize it to their own needs and emerging processes, Haley & Aldrich now had the perfect tool to evolve their innovation program. The culture fit, a focus on people, that both Haley & Aldrich and edison365 shared was also a plus. “Beyond getting a slick software platform, it’s a real thought partnership,” says Chandler.
Five months after rolling out edison365ideas, internally known as H&A Ideas, they have very impressive results. They’ve kept the influx of ideas well aligned to corporate strategy by using challenges for employees to submit to. So far, Haley & Aldrich has awarded an idea that could capture more than $1M of lost revenue each year. That’s a huge return of their investment in edison365 ideas.
During the initial rollout, Haley & Aldrich drove awareness through internal webinars, announcements placed on monitors in high-traffic areas, meetings with staff managers, and placing H&A Ideas front and centre on their intranet page. It helped that edsion365ideas is built on their existing Office 365 and intuitive to use. They encourage employees to get involved by rewarding them with a generous gift card and certificate if their idea is awarded. Programs like this have helped boost their employee’s engagement at work.
Haley & Aldrich already had a culture focused on innovation and investing in their people, but they just needed the right mechanism to carry that into idea management. Now with edsion365ideas, employees feel like their ideas are being heard and can now track the progress themselves. Each employee can share in the process of innovating, and some are now seeing idea contribution as a part of their professional development goals. As the platform usage matures at Haley & Aldrich, Chandler plans to get more ownership at a business level, by creating “innovation champions” within each of their service areas and market segments.