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Building the Governance for managing bottom-up Innovation

Allianz Trade

Allianz Trade (formerly Euler Hermes) is a global insurance company that offers trade credit insurance, debt collection, surety bonds, business fraud insurance, and political risk protection. It operates in over 50 countries, monitoring the financial health of over 80 million companies worldwide. The company has a €3 billion turnover and insures global business transactions worth €930 billion.

Managing bottom-up Innovation

In the last two years, the innovation strategy has focused on bottom-up innovations. This approach has led to the emergence of several projects throughout Europe, resulting in a significant increase in innovation initiatives.

However, as the number of projects grew, the leadership recognized the need for clear governance to manage them effectively. This includes identifying the most valuable projects, providing funding for the promising ones, and halting the unproductive ones. To achieve this, they sought advice from Forward Partners to structure and manage their innovation pipeline.

The Governance for the innovation funnel

During the audit of the innovation process, we discovered that it lacked governance to manage projects, even though it was sometimes followed.

We worked with the innovation and transformation team to draw the innovation funnel and the different gates for projects in the portfolio. This resulted in a well-defined innovation funnel that includes:

  • Phases

    • Timeframes for each phase

    • Key activities for each phase

    • Metrics for tracking progress in each phase

  • Gates to pass

    • Decision-makers for continuing or stopping projects

    • Involving country, regional, and global leadership

    • Criteria used to evaluate projects at the gate

  • Governance framework defining roles and responsibilities of different actors involved

    • Timeframes for each phase

    • Key activities for each phase

    • Metrics to track progress for each phase

The main deliverable was a governance playbook co-written by the Forward and Transformation teams. This governance playbook allowed managing bottom-up Innovation.

"We appreciated Forward's expertise and extensive knowledge in innovation, which we didn't find with our other partners.” — Ruurd Vander Veen - Digital Transformation Director

This initiative resulted in the creation of a central innovation committee and regional growth board for the European markets. These bodies then began evaluating different innovation projects using the innovation governance playbook.

As a result, projects are assessed through a rational and controlled process, which leads to:

  1. Better alignment between innovation efforts and the company's strategy

  2. Better investment decisions by stopping bad projects sooner and focusing on good projects


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