Are you finding it difficult to get the executives in your organisation to buy into the need to use social media tools in your Intranet? We find that the business case is a good way to achieve this.
In many of our clients’ organisations, the Intranet is little more than the place I go to, to see the lunch menu or get my leave forms.
It’s no wonder then that executives don’t realise how powerful it could be. The advent of social media is all too often seen to be time wasting and a waste of bandwidth.
Microsoft has just released SharePoint 2010 which contains the latest collaborative tools embedded into its content management and sharing tools. Social media is going to become the norm in large corporates. Companies are migrating to this platform or looking at other collaboration tools to enhance performance in the organisation. The challenge now is to get the full potential of social media on the executive agenda.
We have found the business case an effective way to get executive attention.
A business case clarifies the value of any opportunity. It is the single-most important document in gaining commitment to the strategic interactive intranet or any other opportunity.
A business case is part sales and part marketing. It represents the opportunity to present a compelling justification for funding an investment to achieve the organisations mission, goals and objectives. An effective business case generates the support, participation and leadership commitment required to transform an idea into reality. A business case identifies an opportunity. It provides context and content and describes the desired objectives and outcomes in terms of the business. It describes how and who will be affected. The how and who typically evolve around individual or organisation behavioural changes.
The business case will breakout specific alternatives and their associated impacts. A strong business case for an intranet investment puts that investment decision into the strategic context and provides the executives with the necessary information to make an educated decision.
Putting a business case together for the interactive intranet
Interaction between employees is not new, but for the first time, the ability to interact online through the Intranet is becoming a reality. This is going to have a significant effect on the way we do business. In the same way as eMail changed the speed at which business is conducted the Intranet is going to become he strategic backbone of the organisation and is going to significantly impact on our effectiveness efficiency and the way we do business. But we have very little historical evidence and case studies which have quantified the improvement brought about by this interactivity.
Traditionally, innovation occurs in products, processes or business models. The latest thinking has been well researched by Gary Hamel in his work The Future of Management. The modern Intranet is not only a new tool, but it also enables new ways to manage people. For this reason, we cannot use the past to forecast the future. Our best attempts to make a case for an interactive Intranet are going to have to be around describing the intangible business “steroids” on the Balanced Scorecard as defined by Kaplan and Norton , which lead to business improvements.
You need to put a business case together in order to justify the resources and capital investment necessary to create an Interactive Intranet.
The Business Case is usually primarily a financial document, however in the case of using SharePoint 2010 (or any other web 2.0 enabled CMS software) in order to create a robust Interactive Intranet, the software and concept is so new that there is very little evidence of what differences these new tools can make and there are so many hard and soft permutations that it is difficult to quantify the financial implications. We therefore have to modify our approach to developing the business case to looking at those variables which, if enhanced using SharePoint 2010’s capabilities, will deliver on the organisation’s business objectives.
We find that the best approach is to:
- Understand the organisational objectives and identify where the interactive Intranet could support delivery;
- Analyse the internal variables (culture, competence and processes) at a high level, which could influence the successful attainment for the business objectives;
- Look at what is happening in the competitive landscape;
- Identify relevant best practise which is enhanced by SharePoint 2010 and can significantly enhance competitive advantage, such as Collaboration , Crowdsourcing and Innovation etc;
- See where else SharePoint 2010 has made a difference for other Microsoft clients (if our client is migrating to SharePoint 2010), alternatively look for case studies on interactive intranets; and
- Make recommendations for the prioritisation and roll out of the Intranet optimisation strategy.
We document all the relevant facts and link them together into a cohesive story. This story tells the executives about the what, when, where, how and why.
- Why is the project needed?
- How it will solve the issues or opportunities facing the organisation;
- How the solution addresses the issues or opportunities (benefits);
- What will happen to the business if the project is not undertaken (the do nothing scenario)?
- Priorities and timing;
- An indication of how much money, people and time will be needed to deliver the solution and realise the benefits: and Suggested Metrics for quantifying success.
By documenting everything together in one story, it is easy to link the issues to the solution and the benefits and identify where the organisation would be without the project.
The development of the overall business case also identifies holes or problems with the solution. Moreover, the organisation will have a way to measure its success. This analysis is also be useful for the leadership team to prioritise this project against the many other initiatives that require capital investment.
The business case provides a consistent message to many different audiences. As a high level view of the entire project the business case manages the expectations of all the stakeholder divisions affected by the project (customers, management, operations, research & development, service, sales, accounting, finance, etc.).
The length of the business case should be kept to a minimum, ensuring it stays on topic, presents relevant information in a clear and concise manner and it be focused on supporting management in making decisions.
About Digital Bridges
Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We write business cases, create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.
Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.
Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.
To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on firstname.lastname@example.org