About a month ago, I wrote Ideas for Instructure, which described our process at a high level.  After speaking with Deepti Patibandla about our process and some of our specific challenges I thought I'd share a more step-by-step description of our process now and some the things we'd like to do in the future.


We provide Canvas LMS as software as a service.  Canvas is cloud based, agile, and changes in production every three weeks.  Anyone in the world with a Canvas login (including free users) can come to our community and suggest an idea for improving Canvas.  Once a month, all the ideas that are not duplicates or something that hasn't already been voted on and responded to by our product team, opens for vote.  Any idea that gets a net 100 votes moves into a stage where our Product Managers will formally respond to it.  Sometimes they say, yes, this thing is already in development.  Sometimes they say, no, we won't build it and here is why.  Most often they say, that they like the idea and will file it away for when we refactor that area of the product.   Any idea that is open for vote for three months without getting 100 net positive votes is archived.  People can resubmit ideas that get archived for lack of votes but their vote count starts fresh for the next voting round.  Some times an idea's popularity will increase over time.  You can learn more about our process, if you are interested, at:

  1. What is the feature development process for Canvas?
  2. How does the voting process work for feature ideas?
  3. https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-2109How do I create a new feature idea?


Some of our challenges:

  1. Its complicated for us -
    1. we do a lot of manual opening and closing of idea voting, tagging by user role, new vs modify and product area. 
    2. Many newly submitted ideas are not complete or are duplicates
    3. Irrelevant ideas create clutter and noise

  2. Its complicated for users who, if they want to stay current, must read 100s of ideas each month and search across more than 3700 ideas


Ideation Features we would love to have:

  1. Ability to affect (open/close) cohorts of ideas all together
  2. Idea brackets or voting rounds - everyone gets one vote on all ideas and then in round two, gets to vote again on only the top however many ideas
  3. Vote allowance - one user can only vote so many times in a month for example
  4. Point system - each idea gets a point value and a given user can 'spend' a given allowance of points
  5. Topic related discussions and ideas - for instance we could say that we are getting ready to refactor a certain area of the product and anyone can submit discussions or ideas related to that area.  There could be a description of the area with the top ideas and discussions related to it that could auto sort by vote count or comment totals scrolling down below the description.
  6. Non-global idea stages - let us use ideas differently in different spaces.