Remember the employee suggestion box?
There might still be some relics mounted on a wall somewhere with a stack of paper and pencils nearby. Can you imagine being the person responsible for translating all of those anonymous, one-to-two sentence thoughts into actionable organizational improvements?
Today of course, technology is lending a hand. A quick search on the topic will return pages of results on “employee suggestion systems”. With solutions ranging from simple to paralyzingly complex, there is an entire industry dedicated to documenting, evaluating, and ranking employee ideas. And rightfully so – where better to get expert guidance on cost-savings, improvements in customer retention, or new market opportunities?
At XLerant we’ve seen an interesting trend developing – using the budgeting process as a platform to capture employee ideas and suggestions.
It’s something we heard at our user conference last year, and again last week when we were joined by dynamic speakers from the A.T. Still University finance team.
As it turns out, a growing number of our customers are using our “ActionPaks” feature as a replacement to the antiquated employee suggestion box, and even instead of other dedicated employee suggestion systems. With this approach our customers have captured and implemented employee ideas ranging from “green initiatives” and other cost savings/efficiencies, to recommendations for product improvements, and even brand-new revenue channels.
We created this feature to help finance teams align the budget to the strategic plan – enabling them to track budgeting for special projects or strategic initiatives that span departments and/or multiple accounts within the account structure. Turns out – it’s also a great way to document, evaluate, and rank employee suggestions.
So what makes the budgeting process a good time and place to capture employee ideas?
First and foremost, employees are already thinking about how they are aligning fiscal resources to the strategic plan. Enabling employees to include their ideas for improvements, special projects, and strategic initiatives, during the budgeting process gives them a very desired opportunity for their voice to be heard.
In fact – the only negative we’ve heard (across the board) from our customers about this approach is that there are too many good ideas… “It’s like opening the floodgates.” “We were inundated with pent up ideas.” (Yes, those are actual quotes!)
Other reasons that this process works?
- It requires proper documentation and justification of all requests – and provides a historical electronic “paper” trail so organizations can track results from year-to-year, or “hold” good ideas for future funding
- Captures all of the potential costs and resource implications of the initiative across the entire organization – and provides for easy reporting and analysis of those costs
- Includes a workflow that allows management to easily approve (or disapprove) each request
- And…if a request is not approved, a simple keystroke removes all of the associated costs from the budget
Be warned however, if you intend to go down this path you should be prepared to spend some time evaluating (a lot) of great employee ideas. Of course – on the grand scale of problems, we think this is a good one to have!
If you are interested in learning more about ActionPaks or how our customers are using them please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you missed the A.T. Still Webinar on budgeting innovation click here!
We also want to send a special thank you out to our customers. Just like companies get great ideas from employees – at XLerant we get amazing ideas from our users. We wouldn’t be us without you!