Let’s face it, we want a new Intranet and we are getting tired of waiting for our company to approve the project to build one. How do we get that project going? I’m glad you asked, and I hope to help you in this endeavor. The first thing that you are going to have to realize is that if you want the project to happen you are going to have to sell it to your organization, and if we are going to sell this project we better understand more about the project and how to sell it.
Step 1 – What are we selling?
“An Intranet, duh” as my son would say. But what IS an Intranet, and more importantly, what is YOUR Intranet? I think of every Intranet as trying to accomplish four basic goals.
Likely your vision of an Intranet for your organization accomplishes one or more of those four things. However, that isn’t the end of our discussion about what it is. You see, your Intranet will eventually be called on to do ALL of those things, for the organization and you need to think in those terms going forward. We want to focus on the holistic solution, not the individual parts of it. In short, think big and try and sell the biggest Intranet that you can imagine…which leads us to…
Step 2- Who is our customer?
I ask my clients this question pretty often and I usually get one of two answers. The most common answer is that the end users or the employees are the customers. The less common is that the company or the executives are the customers. I propose that neither of those are correct. To understand who the customer truly is, we need to define what a customer is. A customer is someone that buys or pays, for a product or service. Hmm, well, the end users certainly don’t qualify for that because they end users don’t have any budget to buy anything. The company/executives seem more like the customer in this model…but I feel that they fall short on the second half. What product or service do the exectives want to pay for? Do they care about document management, or corporate news, or even an innovation center? Indirectly yes, but the executives are in the business of running the company and only indirectly benefit from an Intranet.
So…who is the customer? The departments are the customer. Each department in your organization meets both parts of the customer definition. First off, they have budget, and second off, they have a mission to accomplish that our Intranet can help them to accomplish more efficiently.
But, my organization has a LOT of departments I hear you say. Yes…and this is a good thing because it means that you have lots of potential customers for your product or service. It also means that each individual department doesn’t have to foot the entire project cost, but it can be split over many departments who all gain the benefits. Which brings us to…
Step 3 – Build the Consensus Business Case
Each department has its own needs and agenda. Your goal is to meet with them and figure out what they need to accomplish for the company. Look at their scorecard for examples of their mission and metrics and then look at SharePoint and all of the other tools in your repretoire, and then talk to them about how you can help them to achieve those goals. This will open up their budget because, in the end, that is what the company gives them money to do…accomplish their goals and you are making them look good by accomplishing those goals.
You have to talk to many departments and get each one to buy into a part of the project and they become your champions as this project grows larger and larger. Instead of trying to accomplish a small Intranet with small vision and small budget you will be able to tackle a large project with a large budget because you will have built a business case for each one and thus for the entire project. More importantly…when this gets to the Executives to fund, you will have many champions for your project thus increasing your chance to suceed. Then its…
Step 4 – Build it Incrementally
Don’t go for a massive big bang approach to your Intranet. I have talked about this before, but this is critical to understand that the business cannot wait for 6-18 months for a massive project to finish to see the benefits. My suggestion is to set goals for one month of work and accomplish that work and deploy it. Then reset your priorities and determine what the next month of work will be. Each month you have the chance to change priorities based on how the business needs change. This makes your project even more valuable because you are closer to delivering what they oganization needs each month.
- Know what you can build
- The departments are your customers
- Build a business case that spans as many departments as possible
- Build it month long chunks and reprioritize monthly