Idea Lab – FAQ

Q. Who can participate in the Idea Lab?

A. Anyone who uses Innovative software. Idea Lab is open to all staff at Innovative libraries, not just system administrators or IUG members. We welcome the perspectives of all users, from front-line staff to directors. Idea Lab will allow all Innovative customers to have direct input into Innovative product development, and we encourage Innovative libraries of all types across the globe to take advantage of Innovative’s commitment to this new process.

Q. How do I access Idea Lab?
  1. Visit Idea Lab at
  2. On the Sign In page, scroll to the bottom where it says “New to Idea Lab? Please register by clicking on this LINK” and click on the LINK to create your account
  3. Use your full business email address — the one associated with your Innovative library or consortium — as both your “Username” and your ‘Email’
  4. Create a password that is at least six characters and contains at least one number and one letter – no special characters will be accepted
  5. Once you have created an account, you should see open challenges on the “Activity” tab or “Challenge” tab. Just click on the challenge to get started!
  6. You can edit your profile to add information about your primary Innovative Platform (Sierra/Millennium, Polaris, or Virtua), a profile avatar, and more
Q. Can I use my Supportal or CSDirect login to access Idea Lab?

A. Not at this time. We hope to enable integration between Supportal and Idea Lab in the future.

Q. How does it work?

A. Idea Lab uses challenges to collect and act on ideas.

  • Time-bound challenges focus on a specific opportunity that could be a topic, a functional area, a product, or a theme. Each challenge is designed to solicit actionable ideas from the participants, with a clear path to implement one or more winning ideas. Time-bound challenges are tied to development resources at Innovative so participants can expect to see winning ideas on future product roadmaps.
  • The Always Open space, launched in March 2018, allows users from all platforms to post ideas that do not fit a particular time-bound challenge. We expect to see ideas that are related to enhancing current products as well as ideas related to solving problems with new technology solutions in that Always Open space. Whether you have an idea in the old enhancements system that is still important to you or you’ve just discovered a development opportunity, the Always Open space will provide a commons for discussion and comment. We hope that ideas submitted to the Always Open space may surface topics for future time-bound challenges.
  • For an overview you may also wish to view this recording.
Q. How does a Timed Challenge Work?

A. Each time-bound challenge progresses through distinct phases:

  • Idea submission
  • Commenting and voting
  • Expert review
  • Prioritization
  • Selection
  • Implementation

When the challenge ends, Innovative will announce which winning ideas have been selected, and what users can expect regarding how those ideas will be implemented (e.g. development plans, target timeline, etc). The details will remain accessible for viewing in Idea Lab even after the challenge ends.

This is a key difference from the old enhancements system: fewer ideas might be designated “winners” but every winner has a commitment from Innovative and a spot on the roadmap.

Q. How does pairwise work?

A. During pairwise you will be presented with a series of idea pairs from which you must vote for one.  The process is set up to provide randomized presentation of pairs to ensure relatively equal distribution of vote opportunities on each idea across all Idea Lab users.  Choosing between multiple sets of ideas in pairs helps us ensure that ideas are fairly ranked against each other. Thus, it is important to vote on each pair presented.  As soon as you vote on a pair, another pair will be available to you and you will be able to see other ideas.

Not enough time?  You can stop at any point and and return later to continue ranking ideas – so long as the Pairwise stage has not concluded. 

You will not be allowed to rank your own ideas in Pairwise. 

Over the course of this process you will see the same idea appear repeatedly, as you will be presented with every possible combination of available ideas.  You will however never see the same pairing twice. 

Q. How do the Always Open spaces work?

A. Ideas also progress in the Always Open spaces, with longer timelines for each phase. There is no pairwise stage in the Always Open spaces. Visit the Always Open space for more details on how ideas progress and a detailed FAQ.

Q. How can I promote an idea I’ve posted to the Idea Lab?

A. You are welcome to advertise your idea over any of the relevant mailing lists or forums. However, there are also sharing features built right in to the Idea Lab.

If you click on the Share button (located beneath an ideas picture) you can enter the usernames of anyone on the Idea Lab and send them a message that will include your idea. To assist with finding users who might be interested in your idea, use the Comparable Ideas list (found in the tabs above an idea’s comments) to find users who have shown an interest in similar ideas to your own.

Q. What makes for a good comment?

A. Comments should add to the conversation by adding new details, considerations, or local experiences to the original idea.

It can be quite tempting to leave comments that simply say things along the lines of “I like this too” in order to increase the comment count. However, if that is the extent of your comment please simply vote for the idea, or find a way to expand on just what it is that you like in the idea or what problem it happens to solve for your library…or both!

Innovative’s product owners are also especially appreciative of use cases (both for and against an idea).  So if you can explain the circumstances around how a given idea will effect your library, that can be extremely helpful.

For further examples you may wish to view this brief video on engaging with ideas.

Q. What happens to ideas that are marked “Archived?”

A. Always Open ideas that do not meet the criteria for views, votes, and comments within the specificed time frames are automatically closed by the Idea Lab system and marked “Archived.”  Ideas can also be archived based on their expert or product review.  However, archived ideas remain available for consideration by Product Owners or for inclusion in future timed challenges. Some archived ideas have been selected for future product releases.

You can browse archived ideas in the Always Open spaces by chosing to Show All Ideas and then changing the filter for Active Stages to Archived.

Q. My idea was unsuccessful. What do I do now?

A. Don’t despair. Archived ideas are still reviewed by Innovative’s product owners and have even been selected for development despite being placed in the archive.

Depending on the reason your idea was archived, you may also wish to submit a new idea that addresses feedback your original idea may have received throughout the commenting and review process. For example, one fairly common issue that can lead to an idea failing a review is it being too broad in scope. If that is the case you can try submitting one or more ideas that break your suggestion into more discrete pieces that might be able to be more easily developed.

Also, if your idea was submitted to the always open challenge, you can resubmit the idea to a timed challenge if a relevant one is active.

Q. What about the legacy Sierra / Millennium enhancements system?

A. The legacy Sierra Millennium enhancements database has been retired. If there are items you feel are still a priority, please contact us at for help in submitting them to the Always Open Space.

Q. What about legacy Polaris Enhancements currently listed on the Supportal?

A. Polaris libraries can still view these when logged in to the Supportal. If there are items you feel are still a priority, you can create them as ideas in the Always Open space.

Q. I have an idea for Idea Lab! Where do I send it?

A. Send your suggestions to

Q. How can I see successful ideas?

A. We are maintaining a list of selected ideas within the Idea Lab. Within the Always Open Challenges you can use the stage filter to view either the Selected or Future Possibilities Categories to see the ideas that have graduated to either of those stages. Within a closed challenge, there will be a banner on the home page of the challenge that displays the winners of that challenge.

Q. How can I see the Expert/Product Reviews?

A. From within the full page for a given idea scroll down to where you normally see comments. You will find a tasks tab next to the word comments. Click on that, and then from the drop down menu that appears select the phase you wish to view (either Product Review or Expert Review). Completed reviews will be labeled as such, and you may view those by clicking on the entry in the task column.

Q. Why did we make this change?

A. Our goal is to improve coordination between Innovative and the user community regarding innovation. The previous model limited submissions to incremental enhancements for existing products, and the ballot process was cumbersome and not inclusive. With voting limited to one vote per IUG (or PUG) member library, it was difficult to gather meaningful feedback from all users of the systems. The annual ballot process did not align with Innovative’s quarterly development cycle, nor did it include a mechanism for conversations between users and Innovative about the context for requests.

Idea Lab will foster communication and get your winning ideas into the development cycle faster.

Q. Does the Idea Lab support languages besides English?

A. Ideas and comments must be in English, but the platform itself can be translated to: Arabic, German, Spanish, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Chinese. You may change the language from the settings menu, which can be found in the my profile drop down menu in the upper right corner.

Q. How can I promote the Idea Lab to my colleagues?

A. You can find examples of promotional materials for the Idea Lab within the IUG Clearinghouse.  The Mid-Hudson Library Consortia in particular has produced some nice materials to increase participation among their members.

Q. How can I disable the account for someone that no longer works at my library?

A. Please email us at

Q. Why did my search fail to find the idea I searched for?

A. The search function in the Idea Lab is case sensitive. If your initial search fails try it again with different capitalization.

Q. I have more questions.

A. Please email us at We are always happy to take your questions.

— The Idea Lab Team at Innovative Users Group