Is there a secret formula for true innovation? Here’s how we do it at Copperleaf.

September 14, 2020 Gabriel Lessard-Kragen

This is the first post in a new blog series called Innovation @ Copperleaf, which will explore how we create solutions to client problems and transform how they see value in their own organizations.

‘Innovation’ is an overused word that has started to lose its true meaning in the technology sector. It’s not just about generating new ideas—it’s about tackling new problems and finding solutions for the impossible. At Copperleaf™, we see innovation not as a buzzword, but as a necessity for how we do business—we can only offer our clients true value if we’re solving their problems.

Just like the asset-intensive organizations we serve, at Copperleaf, making sound, economic, and high-value decisions is critical to our success. Choosing what to focus on next is one of the most important decisions we make as a business. In fact, it’s core to our ability to deliver the extraordinary experiences we promise to our clients.

Here’s a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at how we approach innovation:

Start with a Well-Informed Product Roadmap

A product roadmap is a future plan for a product. It provides a high-level overview of all changes coming to the product, including guidance on what our development team is building, the problems we are trying to solve, and the business goals the product will help our clients achieve. We use it as both an external communication tool as well as a plan of action to ensure our teams collaborate and align on how a product will grow and evolve over time. 

Seek Inspiration to Refine Over Time

Like the business environment our clients navigate every day, our product roadmap is never static. We are continuously updating our solutions, adding functionality, and creating new products to help solve our clients’ challenges. We use numerous inputs to decide what to build, categorized in four key drivers:

1. Gather input from the Copperleaf Community

Our network of clients and partners is by far the largest driver of our product roadmap. We rely on them to share their challenges and aspirations, and collaborate with us on new ideas. At the annual Copperleaf Asset Investment Planning and Management (AIPM) Summit, we survey our community to uncover the top features that would benefit them. This helps us prioritize where we should invest our research and development. Each year, we commit to providing solutions to the top 10 ideas they put forward. By being results-oriented and fearlessly seeking direct feedback—the good, the bad, and the ugly—we gain valuable insight that allows us to continue to develop industry-leading solutions and provide extraordinary experiences. 

2. Embrace new technology

It’s important not to get tunnel-vision, so we take the time to look beyond our own industry, monitoring for emerging technologies that could enhance our solutions and help us better solve the problems our clients are facing. For example, our Performance Prediction product uses machine learning to predict future financial performance using historical data. Another example involves clients throughout North America leveraging LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and other imaging data to forecast asset risk due to vegetation encroachment. 

3. Align with and help shape industry best practices

We're always evaluating industry best practices and adapting our solutions to ensure alignment. As a patron of The Institute of Asset Management (IAM), Copperleaf actively participates in shaping the future of asset management standards, including ISO 55000. We are heavily involved in the American Gas Association, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and the International Council on Large Electric Systems (CIGRE), among many others. Our team also works with regulators to ensure the solutions we develop are aligned with their requirements. For instance, we've built the CNAIM methodology for electrical distribution network operators and the NOMS methodology for gas distribution operators into the Copperleaf Value Model Library. This helps new clients streamline their implementation of a value-based decision-making approach and ensure their value frameworks remain aligned with best practices into the future.

4. Stay ahead of emerging market requirements

The market is always changing, with new requirements released every quarter. For example, as more clients move toward leveraging our cloud hosting infrastructure, it's important for Copperleaf to stay ahead of the security requirements of the market. Copperleaf recently achieved SOC 2 Type I certification and we are currently preparing for SOC 2 Type II certification, demonstrating our ongoing commitment to data security for our clients.

What are the Key Takeaways?

At Copperleaf, we rely on numerous inputs to inspire our roadmap and ensure we are building the products and features that our clients want and need. A well-informed roadmap ensures alignment across our teams in our day-to-day work while providing a long-term vision of where we're headed. Ultimately, this approach drives us to create solutions that help our clients make better value-based, risk-informed investment decisions. 

Next Up

Stay tuned for future posts where we'll explore how we use our own value framework to optimize decisions of what to build versus what to postpone. We’ll also share how we use agile research approaches with key clients to ensure we are spending our time and investment building the right products.

About the Author

Gabriel Lessard-Kragen

Gabriel is the Director of Product Management for Copperleaf. He is responsible for setting the direction and strategy of the company's growing enterprise product suite. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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