Winning Support for your Intranet/Intranet 2.0 Initiatives

A common frustration for teams managing intranet projects is the difficulty they experience in securing resources. Successfully winning support could require grasping a number of concepts—from ROI to employee engagement—depending on the business environment. But in all organizations, the intranet team must understand the difference between a need, and a perceived need. The distinction is that a business case can quantify the former, but people act on the latter.
In the case of intranets, many organizations have a need to streamline business processes, drive operational efficiencies, enhance communications and collaboration and secure a higher degree of employee engagement. But the executives at these organizations frequently don’t perceive how an intranet, and especially intranet 2.0 technology, can address these business requirements.

For the team tasked with getting their support, they need to grasp the need to create the perception among executives that an intranet will address their business issues. The plan for doing so requires:

  • Understanding intranet/intranet 2.0 value
  • Understanding your company’s business drivers
  • Linking value to drivers
  • Bringing data, not opinion
  • Supporting the initiative with a plan

Intranet/intranet 2.0 value

There are numerous examples of how an effective intranet can deliver value to a company. Understanding this data is a crucial first step for a team seeking to secure funding for an intranet project.

Typically, intranets create value by boosting productivity and efficiency, enabling greater collaboration, optimizing communications effectiveness and securing employee engagement. For example:

  • Sabre has attributed $500,000 in savings to their employee social networking tool.
  • A prominent financial services firm with 30,000 employees reduced their IT Help Desk call volume by 30% and saved more than $300,000 annually by providing better self-service information on their intranet.
  • One prominent investment company (800 employees) performed a content audit and eliminated 70% of the content (7,000 pages) on their new intranet which reduced content migration, maintenance and storage costs by tens-of-thousands of dollars per year.
  • BestBuy used an innovative video contest that promoted their 401(k) plans, increasing the number of employees signing up for 401(k) accounts by 30%, as well as employee retention. The company reports that 1/10th increase in employee engagement will increase single store sales by $100,000.

Link value to drivers

One company that has developed a strong set of metrics to prove intranet success is Sodexo. Their intranet dashboard, which is visible to all intranet visitors, presents such data as: the percentage of employees that view the intranet as a valuable resource that helps them do their job; and the percentage that thinks their division makes good use of the intranet to communicate with the field.

While this data is important for proving the need for an intranet, according to Angelo Ioffreda, who was Vice President, Internal Communications, Sodexo, for a team that wants to gain the perception that the intranet will address a company’s unique challenges the best advice is: “look at your business.”

In Sodexo’s case, that meant adding value to a dispersed workforce by contributing productivity, effective and efficient communications (including reducing print) and enabling people to find one another.

The intranet team can also add applications that enhance business value. Sodexo, for example, launched a tool called SuperSleuth, which promoted lead exchange across business segments and broke down silos. It increased leads by more than 100% and net client sales by US$90 million.

Bring data, not opinion

Once an intranet team has gained knowledge of intranet value, and understands how to link that value to its organization’s unique business drivers, it is ready to present a case to key decision makers about how an intranet will contribute to organizational performance.

When doing so, however, it’s essential that the team avoids the realm of opinion: e.g. “we believe our intranet sucks and a better one would contribute to the company’s success.” That runs the risk of the executives saying: “we believe our intranet is OK because we never look at it, and we don’t think intranets are a business tool anyway.”

Securing the perception that an intranet will improve business performance requires data rather than gut instinct. User data collected in an effective intranet assessment, for example, often provides the facts required to quantify the opportunities for improving a site.

  • “There’s no consistency across sites. Aren’t we all supposed to be one company?” observed one interviewee from a business requirement interview within a global organization that was seeking to become “one company.”
  • “On average, focus group participants spend between one and two hours a day tracking down the information they need to perform their role,” reported Prescient in one of our assessment reports with a global company that was seeking to increase employee productivity with a better intranet.

Support the initiative with a solid plan

A measurable intranet strategy has always been an important component in an effective intranet redevelopment. In our current economy, however, a measurable, executable plan has become vital. Budget realities mean that executives turn down more initiatives than they green light, so they want assurances that the projects they approve will succeed.

One of our clients, a multi-national company with over 20,000 employees, followed the process outlined above to secure a considerable budget for improving their intranet. The Vice President of Communications started by establishing a perception among executives that the current intranet was liability. He demonstrated that the number of rogue sites (over 100) were not only ineffective, but for a company that had rigorous standards in place for information management, intranet sprawl represented risk because it was virtually impossible to share accurate information. In addition, the intranet did not support the development of a strong culture or organizational collaboration because there was no one place for an employee to start and end the day.

According to the Vice President, while having data that linked an intranet value to the company’s unique business requirements, the most important lesson for the team managing the intranet is: “Get through your strategy and implementation plan quickly so executives have confidence that you can execute your roadmap.”

The information and resources linked to in this article, and cited below, will provide a helpful starting point for quantifying the business value of intranets, understanding options for gathering data on intranets developing a framework to create a measurable intranet plan.

But the best starting point is to follow Angelo Ioffreda’s advice and look at your business: it’s the best starting point for not only understanding the need for a better intranet, but gaining insight into how to communicate the perceived need that a better intranet is required.

Additional Resources

Intranet ROI White Paper
Selling an Intranet Redesign
Getting to Yes – Tips for Winning Funding for Projects