Scorecard strategy ‘moving the dial’ on innovation capability
Enterprise Ireland’s 15-minute questionnaire aims to help clients choose best options
The Enterprise Ireland Innovation Scorecard: ‘Every single client has said it’s an extremely useful tool for helping with innovation performance,’ says senior innovation executive David Keeley.
Irish companies now have a way to assess their innovation capability and identify any points of weakness that need to be addressed. The Enterprise Ireland Innovation Scorecard is a multiple-choice online questionnaire that takes just 15 minutes to complete and delivers a customised report highlighting areas for attention and improvement within another 10 minutes.
A key aspect of Enterprise Ireland’s strategy is to help client companies to innovate, and innovate more effectively, according to senior innovation executive David Keeley.
“With the accelerating rate of change and more and more disruptive types of technology emerging, it’s becoming very difficult to choose the right options for innovation,” he explains. “We are trying to ensure client companies have the capability to choose the right one and execute it well and quickly.”
Development of the scorecard began in 2019. “We needed to establish a best-in-class lens to measure innovation capability so that we could tailor our support offerings to target those areas most in need of attention.”
Enterprise Ireland looked at a number of benchmarks and chose to base its lens on the ISO 56000 family of standards which provides a framework for organisations to implement, maintain and improve innovation management systems. “The framework was only finalised in 2019 and it is designed to be suitable for organisations of all sizes from SMEs right up to large corporations,” Keeley points out.
“We wanted to develop a tool for clients to self-diagnose their innovation capability. We also wanted to raise awareness and understanding of the innovation capability framework and why it is important.
“Clients can use the framework to make small improvement steps themselves or engage with Enterprise Ireland for support.”
The scorecard was developed with IDA Ireland support from the Public Service Innovation Fund. “We developed Innovation Scorecards for Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland clients as well as for public sector organisations.”
The Covid-19 pandemic both delayed its launch and increased the need for it. “It is now more important than ever for companies to innovate and do it more effectively,” says Keeley.
The scorecard is designed for ease of use, he says, using non-technical language that anyone can understand. “We followed a design-thinking approach and trialled it with clients and a number of other experts. We tested it with more 100 people altogether, more than 70 of them clients, and we got feedback right the way through. The software looks at the answers and suggests areas in need of action as well as pointers to relevant Enterprise Ireland supports.”
Five key areas are covered by the scorecard: leadership and planning; the organisation context; operation; supports; and evaluation and improvement.
“Leadership and planning includes the company’s vision and strategy and so on,” Keeley says. “Organisation context looks at things like culture and how well a company collaborates with other companies and the research infrastructure such as the Enterprise Ireland technology centres.
“Operation covers the processes in place for identifying ideas and converting them to innovative solutions. The ability to kill ideas that won’t work at an early stage is also important.”
Our development advisers are rolling it out to clients and the response from them is almost instant
Supports include the capital resources and innovation budget available to the company. It also covers the approach to intellectual property management.
Keeley describes evaluation and improvement as the brass tacks of innovation. “Do you have appropriate evaluation methods? Are you getting bang for your buck? Are you monitoring the percentage of revenue coming from products or services introduced in the last three years?”
Response from clients has been very positive since the tool’s launch last month. “Every single client has said it’s an extremely useful tool for helping with innovation performance. IDA Ireland clients have said the same. Our development advisers are rolling it out to clients and the response from them is almost instant.
“There is almost no time lag between sending the link to the scorecard and using it. They are then coming back to us very quickly looking to take the next step in the process.”
Those next steps will vary according to the needs of the particular company involved. “Enterprise Ireland is developing a staircase approach aligned to the scorecard outputs,” Keeley says. “At one level, it might involve a discussion with clients on the recommended actions. We might direct [them] to innovation training supports. And that goes right the way up to working with them on a transformative innovation programme.”
For Enterprise Ireland, the next step is to refine those follow-on offerings. “The whole point of this is to make sure we are moving the dial on innovation capability. This is a data-driven initiative to understand how we can be most effective at that.”