IfundIT Cookbook

Your guide to ifundIT at IBM

Setting Requirements

After running several ifundIT campaigns across our entire organization, we've learned that communicating a clear set of requirements to both innovators and investors is essential to ensure that all stakeholders get what they want out of the campaign. Here you'll find the most recent iteration of our requirements for campaign participants, as well as some information about the experiences that led to their creation.

Requirements for Innovators

We found varying levels of commitment from innovators during our first IBM wide campaign in 2014. Some innovators were extremely committed to sticking with their ideas from submission to user deployment, but many were not. We found that some people got their ideas funded and then expected us to take over development. Others participated during the development process, but would not be responsive when we asked them to take actions, such as reviewing designs or code. Our team ended up having to make decisions or take actions on behalf of the innovator because they weren't engaged and were holding up development and other projects.

Based on our experience, we implemented the following requirements for the Spring into Bluemix campaign in 2015:

  • Commit to the project implementation schedule, and promptly communicate schedule limitations or conflicts
  • Be responsive and respect deadlines by answering questions, reviewing designs, and testing builds when expected
  • Post project updates for your investors, followers, and volunteers on a regular basis
  • Own your project and stay with it through the entire lifecycle. If you are unable to stay with the project, it is your responsibility to find someone to take on the work
  • Promote your completed project to the community

If you do not comply with these requirements during the life cycle of your project, you will lose your funding.

Requirements for Investors

During the first campaign, it was easy to get enough people to support an idea and get it funded quickly. But, was the crowd funding the "right" ideas for the business? We saw too many investors putting money down and then walking away, without remaining invested in the projects they funded with company money. We wanted to make sure people understood that they were dealing with real money, and to encourage people to be thoughtful in their spending. 

Based on our experience, we implemented the following investor requirements for the Spring into Bluemix campaign in 2015:

  • Invest in the projects that will really make a difference to your colleagues and the company
  • Drive the consensus among the investor community on whether the app is a good idea or not
  • Treat the money as if it were your own. Ask yourself: "would I really put real money down on that app to get built? Would it make a difference to me as an investor?"
  • Spread your funding between multiple projects, and if you don't find projects that are worth investing in, don't spend the money
  • Question the innovator. If you're not sure what value a project will bring, ask them for more information on how this will benefit the company
  • Follow up with the innovator for status updates if their project gets funded. Ask them if you see early designs, how their schedule's looking, and show personal interest in their project - you gave them your investment, after all! You're putting real money down, which makes you a stakeholder in their project's success

Spreading the Word

Developing a coherent communication strategy for your campaign is a key step in ensuring its success. Because ifundIT thrives on social engagement, you'll need to explain, publicize, and market both the platform and your campaign throughout your organization, in order to build and maintain momentum with the people you want to engage.

Here are some best practices our team has developed throughout our internal campaigns for communicating about ifundIT.

Communicate value: both for and of employees

The key to good participation within your organization is to make it known that management values and supports the campaign. Hone in on the fact that ideas and investment decisions are the power source of ifundIT, and that the platform prioritizes what investors and innovators have to say. It also values when participants act in their own self-interest - persuade innovators to make the things they want to use, and investors to support solutions to their own problems.

Clarify that ifundIT can fit into or transform their normal work

Trying to find ways to fit ifundIT into their everyday routine can help your employees get more engaged. Try to target the entrepreneurs in the crowd: those who have small projects on the side or an idea for a solution that isn't as big a priority. Or, you can pitch ifundIT as a new way to approach their everyday work, giving them the opportunity to direct change in their organization. The more people feel like ifundIT is an exciting opportunity for experimentation and not mandatory, the more likely they will be to get passionate about your campaign.

Personalize the ifundIT tool

Take advantage of the customizable fields in the ifundIT tool to reflect your organization's branding and unique culture. You can also add custom FAQs and links to your own internal communities and platforms. Be sure to personalize the automated email alerts that are sent out to all participants. Developing a unified voice across your communications will help integrate ifundIT into your organization's culture.

Help your innovators create compelling projects

Communications doesn't stop at the campaign level; it's vital that the CMO disseminate best practices for successful projects to innovators. The ifundIT tool supports this through a share feature, but you should encourage your innovators to be creative and positive in seeking investor support. One example from IBM's history were the "PitchIT" calls of the Spring into Bluemix campaign, in which project owners presented their ideas in a 5-minute format to interested investors.

Wrapping Up

Now that you've built your team, configured your campaign, planned it all out, and spread the word throughout your organization about ifundIT, all that remains is to open the campaign and let enterprise crowdfunding do its work. After that, it's time for congratulations! You've hopefully seen how incredible the will of the crowd can be, and emerged with a handful of successful projects, an engaged workforce, and a more transparent decision-making process.

However, the work doesn't stop there - there's still much to be done to make sure your campaign continues to produce value long after it officially ends.

Move funded projects towards delivery

The most important step following a completed campaign is to work together with your innovators on next steps for their projects. This could take the form of getting them ready to start development, or another round of review to refine their idea. Ideally, your CMO will have laid the groundwork for this phase as it was planning and communicating your campaign to your organization. Once your successful ideas are built and delivered, make sure that you've defined a path for long-term support and adoption.

Reflect on and analyze your results

ifundIT campaigns are tremendous sources of data about your organization, and can be a valuable decision-making tool after your campaign. Be sure to export campaign data from the ifundIT tool once investing is finished, and take the opportunity to read out on what went well, what didn't, and what your organization is going to do to achieve your desired outcomes post-campaign.

Celebrate success

Running an ifundIT campaign is a lot of hard work for everyone involved - make sure to celebrate your success! Highlight successful projects and innovators, and spotlight them in communications throughout your organization. Get the word out about the campaign itself, as well: ifundIT really is a new way to work, and it's an excellent example of how pushing decision-making power down the ladder can be transformative.