Best Practices

Innovation Management for Entrepreneurs & Corporations

Jonathan Friedman
July 27, 2020
Innovation Management for Entrepreneurs & Corporations

After owning, managing, and advising strategic initiatives like innovation several times, we at TrueNxus have created a guide on innovation management to help you, and your organization successfully plan for such transformative events.

Coupled with using TrueNxus, you can successfully translate innovation strategy into execution. This guide is right for you if you are an entrepreneur, a senior executive, a professional innovation project manager, a part of a project management office (PMO), an accidental innovation project manager, or an innovation team member executing the day-to-day work.

Now, let's focus on innovation management. In this guide, we will outline the below sections. Feel free to skip ahead.


  1. Acknowledge innovation rewards and risks
  2. What is innovation management?
  3. Why innovation management is important
  4. Outline the typical innovation groups
  5. Provide an illustrative innovation project plan
  6. Understand innovation management best practices
  7. Identify common innovation challenges, and understand how to manage innovation risk: TrueNxus


1. Acknowledge innovation rewards and risks


If you decide to invest resources and talent to build a new product or service, you should understand the rewards and risks. It may be more or less risky when compared to other strategies. Below are the rewards and risks of exercising the approach to innovate within the company and build a new product or service.


Innovation rewards



Innovation risks


2. What is innovation management?


At its most basic level, innovation management introduces a new product or service to the market. From ideation to planning, development, and launch, innovation management oversees all activities and resources needed to make innovation a reality.

No matter the complexity of a new product or service, whether you're a startup or a large corporation, innovation management is essential to ensure you make your innovation a reality.

Innovation management  importance


3. Why innovation management is important


Building a new business is one of the most complicated endeavors an organization can undertake. Every business is like a network, with connections spanning across internal stakeholders from product lines and support functions, to external entities such as clients, regulators, and third parties (i.e., advisors, bankers, consultants, lawyers). As a result, it requires a significant level of attention and organization.



Additionally, unlike the analysis undertaken to determine whether to innovate or what to innovate, which is uncontrollable, the execution of innovation is entirely controllable. It’s the only time when the organization can allocate resources and work toward attaining the strategic objectives.  Project management is required to control the execution. However, while execution is the most controllable state of trying to achieve a strategy, it is often the most overlooked and poorly managed. As a result, globally, billions are not captured every year due to the lack of project management. The reason is that before TrueNxus, innovation management was resource-intensive, structurally rigid, and time-consuming.


4. Outline the typical innovation groups


As in any complex project, it’s important to group large buckets of work into groups, or workstreams. In the simplest of terms, workstreams are a way to categorize a set of work. Workstreams can be functional teams (i.e., Legal, Finance, Engineering, Marketing), business units, product teams, or a standard set of deliverables. 


Building a new product or service is exceptionally complex. Some aspects of building a business, specifically the product, marketing, or engineering groups, may want to be broken down into projects in themselves. Either way, a standard set of innovation management groups, irrespective of product-type or service-type, are outlined below.



5. Provide an illustrative innovation project plan


We at TrueNxus advise putting an innovation management structure in place from the very beginning. Below is an illustrative example of a comprehensive project plan for building a new business. 


Note: The below project plan, workstreams, and tasks are not in any particular order. If you are interested in the execution order or duration of each body of work in the project plan, TrueNxus can help. Reach out to our sales team today.


Review portfolio



Establish product management



Analyze and structure financials



Outline legal structure and regulatory implications



Design product and user experience (UX)



Develop and execute go-to-market (GTM) strategy



Design human resources (HR) function



Build sales capabilities


Assemble engineering and build the product



Develop service management strategy and processes


Standup customer success function



6. Understand innovation management best practices

Innovation project management best practices

There are wide-ranging innovation management best practices when planning and executing building a new business. However, below outlines, at the highest-level, TrueNxus’s view of project management best practices during innovation.



Establish one single source of truth


Complex projects such as innovation require collaboration with a large number of stakeholders, colleagues, and third parties. At TrueNxus, we’ve seen new businesses with 100+ stakeholders through the life of innovation. As you can imagine, managing such a project can become chaotic fast, especially with everyone using different tools and templates. As a result, it’s essential to select one method, preferably a software solution and not slide decks, spreadsheets, or checklists, to manage everything.


Initiate a governance model


Ensure accountability by identifying the general manager, innovation project manager, and workstream owners. Additionally, identify all responsible stakeholders that will be on the hook for doing the work. You may not be able to identify everyone at the beginning, and that’s ok. Throughout the life of building a new business, the responsible parties may change. However, the leadership team should be identified at the beginning. 


Define a project charter


Do this right away so that you can align all stakeholders at the very beginning. The charter outlines the following:



Create and maintain a project plan


Don’t worry if you and your team don’t have full foresight into how the plan should look. The project plan becomes living and breathing and is, therefore, continually updated throughout the life of innovation.


Monitor and report project status


Establish a recurring meeting to monitor and report progress. If the number of stakeholders is large enough, it may make sense to establish several meetings, one with senior leadership and others as workstream breakouts. In these meetings, the entire project team comes together to review progress to-date, solution roadblocks, and understand the plan. Meetings such as these instill accountability amongst each project team member by creating transparency and ensuring the team is collaborating to move the needle forward.


7. Identify common innovation challenges, and understand how to manage innovation risk: TrueNxus


Building a new product or service is resource-intensive and time-consuming. Innovation management, from planning through execution can take multiple years. Not to mention, there may be numerous starts and stops, especially before launch. There can be a variety of innovation challenges and innovation risks, but below are the top-of-mind pain points your organization should consider. 



Challenge: Version-control mess


When managing a complex project like innovation, deliverables like project plans, timelines, and status reports are maintained and updated in presentations, documents, or spreadsheets that are often offline and across disparate team members. When it comes to providing status updates, innovation project managers and team members need to consolidate the disparate information across constituents into a digestible view. In an environment like this, there is a version-control mess, and there is no real-time visibility of status for any stakeholder, including management.


With no single source of truth, strategic thinking becomes cumbersome because it’s difficult to see how projects are being executed against their original plans. This leads to a lack of transparency and accountability, which hurts productivity, efficiency, and organizations’ bottom lines.


TrueNxus’s solution: Leverage one source of truth


TrueNxus is your organization’s single source of truth to manage building a new business. No more countless hours herding cats via conference calls and emails, across a multitude of presentations, documents, or spreadsheets. By having everything on TrueNxus, every stakeholder has access to the information they need when they want it. Additionally, everyone can view the project plan the way it makes sense to them, from a list to a timeline.

Personalized views illustration


Challenge: No governance


Companies often do not establish a governance structure for innovation. However, this not only leads to confusion but also creates lost opportunities when execution is required. By not identifying the right accountable resources early in the process, giving them a chance to provide their buy-in to the decision-making, they are frustrated once they are brought into the process. They are required to execute against goals that they were neither involved in creating nor agreed upon.


TrueNxus’s solution: Establish a governance model and align accountable and responsible parties by leveraging OKR and creating a project charter


TrueNxus helps you instill accountability in innovation management by having you create a charter and identify the general manager, innovation project manager, workstream owners, and OKRs. Additionally, you can identify all responsible stakeholders that will be on the hook for doing the work. You may not be able to locate everyone at the beginning, and that’s ok. Furthermore, through the life of the project, the responsible parties may change. However, the leadership team should be identified at the beginning.

Charter illustration


Challenge: Limited to no resource capacity


One of the most challenging aspects of innovation is identifying and freeing up the right resources. There are many people across the organization that are required to help plan and execute. However, more often than not, the employees identified to help drive the execution forward are doing so as a side job. They typically are not freed from their primary responsibilities. Instead, it often feels as though they are working two jobs. Rather than focusing on their day job and help drive results, they are often bombarded by multiple stakeholders with conference calls and emails for status updates, yet in different formats.


TrueNxus’s solution: Free up resource capacity


Once the right resources are identified, they can easily be added to the project in TrueNxus and assigned to their work. They can also collaborate and communicate directly in the app, removing the distracting and time-consuming conference calls and emails.  Additionally, with TrueNxus’s intelligent automation, reliant stakeholders will be notified of any changes, and status reports will be generated automatically, ensuring everyone has access to the same information whenever they want it.


Challenge: Disparate and remote teams with different and dated project plans


It’s a nightmare consolidating and managing project plans. Almost always, every workstream and stakeholder maintains their plan or to-do list, and it’s up to a group of individuals to reconcile the different project plans into one master project plan. To make things even more complicated, it’s a version control mess. No matter the type of organization, there is always a group of employees where it ends up being their full-time job to maintain a master project plan, and it’s expensive.


TrueNxus’s solution: Collaborate as one team and maintain the project plan continuously


TrueNxus is your single source of truth where every project member or project guest (i.e., lawyers, consultants) can have access to the information they need when they want it. With TrueNxus, you’ll have the master project plan always accessible. Additionally, each stakeholder will be able to visualize the data the way it makes sense to them - a list or timeline. Furthermore, everyone has their section called My Work, which allows them to see only their relevant work.


In the event work changes, the reliant stakeholders will be notified immediately for any number of reasons. Additionally, reports will be updated automatically.

Plan screenshot


Challenge: Limited to no visibility into project status


When it comes to providing status updates, innovation project managers and team members need to consolidate information across a wide array of constituents into a digestible view. However, project teams manage their work across a multitude of slide decks, spreadsheets, and documents. At TrueNxus, we have seen entire teams assembled simply to maintain status across the whole project, so management has a view into progress. Teams are assembled because management wants to keep a pulse on progress. However, bringing together a group of individuals simply to herd cats, and then reconcile and standardize the data from disparate teams is painfully time-consuming, tedious, and plain wasteful. 


TrueNxus’s solution: Monitor and report project status automatically


TrueNxus has automated analytics allowing the project team and management to access reporting whenever they want it. No more herding cats, employing or contracting entire teams just to make sure status reports are generated. Leverage the newfound time and money to focus on thinking strategically and driving results.

Automated innovation management status reports illustration


It’s time organizations had a solution to help them manage innovation and to accomplish more with less. Practical innovation management tool built for building a new business is needed. TrueNxus is the answer. Reach out to our sales team today.