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How to argue that you need a new intranet


How to argue that you need a new intranet

A significant factor when deciding whether to implement a new employee experience platform, or even to develop what you currently have, is the cost to the business. With a significant upfront cost, followed by annual or weekly licenses to pay for many years, it is a significant investment.

This means stakeholders want an indication of the return on investment before the project begins. Sometimes project teams get the green light to explore their options, only to have a senior stakeholder question the potential expense once it’s well under way. Unfortunately, in the current climate we’re seeing this happen more often.

Below are some tips that will help you argue your case for a new intranet.

Introduce what intranets can do

Everyone’s past experiences of intranets will vary. Some people will have previously worked for a company with an intranet that perfectly addressed employee needs, delivering a superb employee experience. However, the experience of an intranet that looked like it was built in the 1990s and was updated once every few months will be seared into the memory of others. 

It’s important to address what your stakeholders don’t know, but with an eye on what will also benefit your organisation more broadly. Therefore, at this stage focus on what purposes intranets can fulfil and keep your organisation’s strategy in the forefront of your mind.  

To conduct relevant research to expand your own understanding, you could: 

  • Read reviews of products – This will help you explore industry trends, plus identify solutions that might meet your needs. 
  • Explore competition winners – Step Two, Ragan, Nielsen Norman Group, and Digital Impact are four example competitions that are an excellent source for case studies and an indication of what an intranet can deliver. 
  • Attend vendor workshops and webinars – Sign up for a few to get a sense of what capabilities exist and how to address business needs. 
  • Visit vendor websites – Have a look at their client pages and screenshots / videos of the product in action to see what use cases are being addressed. 

Summarise your findings by presenting the benefits of intranet capabilities to your employees and the benefits to your business overall. The ClearBox digital workplace framework will give you a structure to work through when forming your argument here, allowing you to focus on those areas that matter most. 

The digital workplace as a city, showing five services and five management activities.
The ClearBox digital workplace framework.

Introduce intranet strengths that matter to the stakeholder(s)

Generally, your business case document will be presented to a group of stakeholders. This means discussing how an intranet could actively support the organisational strategies should work well as an argument as to why you need an improved solution. However, if you know you need to persuade one particular person, it can help to identify what matters to them and address that in your argument.  

For example, if you need to address someone in HR then explaining how intranets can assist with improving employee engagement (in provable, measurable ways such as through talent retention) can be an effective argument to make. Perhaps their team receives a lot of calls with basic questions? Showing how improved reference materials can allow employees to self-serve and therefore save their team time, might also be an effective argument.  

Or, if you need to make the argument to someone who heads up a frontline workforce then show you understand what makes frontline needs different. This will show that you can also effectively select a solid (single) alternative to a host of apps they’re expected to download now.

Blink, Thrive.App and Oneteam are examples of mobile-first products that address frontline worker needs well and in different ways.

Identify your business needs 

You need to identify what your business needs are and how they can be addressed by an improved intranet. Conducting user research and forming an intranet strategy that slots into the digital workplace and broader organisational strategy will help you here. Presenting this simply, whilst still showing the comprehensiveness of an intranet, will help you form the most convincing argument too (see below). 

Also, as you go, ask whether your current solution(s) will address the needs you’re uncovering. Highlight those that aren’t being addressed or wouldn’t easily be addressed by the current solution in future, as this is an effective argument for change. 

For example, you uncover a desire that more people from across the business want to contribute local or departmental news. Is your current solution simple enough to allow inexperienced publishers to do this easily, and create engaging articles at the end of it? What about the ‘air traffic control’ of many news stories hitting people at the same time? 

Or perhaps you don’t want the intranet to become unloved again, so are thinking of longer-term solutions to avoid this in future. For example, do you have a vendor or partner in place that offers effective strategic advice at a sensible price? Or what about effective life cycle features; does your current solution prompt people to review and replace content after a defined time? 

A benefits map illustrates how an intranet supports strategic goals.

Summarise technology options 

Using all the research you’ve completed, round it all off with a summary of technology options that will address the needs of the business. This doesn’t need to be a final short- or long-list of options, perhaps simply some products addressing a key business need in an interesting manner. By including this information you’ll highlight that it is possible to address complex organisational needs simply, and expose the gap between your current capabilities and what’s possible. 

For example, you may wish to address the onboarding of new employees into the business in more sophisticated ways. ‘Drip campaigns’ from Firstup that trigger messages at defined times is a good example here.

Firstup drip campaign.

Perhaps IT would like support with provisioning suitable project or other workspaces, such as in this example from Atlas.

Atlas Connex Studio.

Maybe you would like a capability for employee recognition, for example in Simpplr.

Simpplr recognition.

Or how about ideation, such as in Powell Software.

Powell ideation.

There are a lot of exciting features on the market, but many of them won’t be relevant for you. Think back to the previous sections in this post to select the examples that matter to you, your colleagues, the overall organisation, and to the stakeholder(s) you’re trying to persuade.

A version of this article was orginally published by Reworked.

All these examples are courtesy of the vendors, and you can see hundreds more within our independent reviews. Download the free report for insights and inspiration.

Suzie Robinson

I've always worked with intranets, and have practical experience with all aspects of intranet management, including research, implementation, governance, and strategy. My roots are in internal communication and I focus on employee experience and engagement.

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