How to get buy-in to your intranet strategy

We always like to hear from professionals working in our industry and sharing their expertise with you.

Mark Morrell

Mark Morrell

So we’re really pleased to have a guest post from Mark Morrell. Mark is the Intranet Pioneer, and he uses his first-hand experience as an intranet manager and consultant to develop the best intranets that help people to be more productive and effective.  Mark has worked with 40 organisations including BT, Centrica, TeliaSonera, Teva Pharmaceuticals and UK local government.  At BT, Mark successfully pioneered how to create a strategy, supported by a governance framework, with measurable benefits that was recognised as setting global intranet best practice.

So, we’re pleased to hand over to Mark:

 

You may have the best-written strategy in history but it will count for nothing if you are unable to get it approved and implemented.  I want to show how you can get adoption from your stakeholders, key senior managers, who are most affected by or can influence your strategy.

Your approach should be to invest as much time connecting with your stakeholders as aligning your strategy with their plans and policies.  This is not an activity to skimp!

Developing your strategy

The first step is to be clear on the direction you will go in.  A good strategy takes careful planning, supported by a good governance framework to give a sound foundation and keep it moving in the right direction every day.

Setting the right strategy needs you to take into account other strategies that may affect you.  It does not make sense to develop it in isolation from what other parts of your organisation may be planning.  It will be difficult to justify it and the investment needed.

Group the activities needed around the quick wins you can gain in the short term; bigger achievements in the medium term that may take more resources and time; with strategic benefits you can deliver in the longer term.

Demonstrate how your intranet will support your organisation’s key priorities and plans.  However, simply developing your strategy is not the full story.  You also need to get your strategy funded and approved by your stakeholders.

Engaging with your stakeholders

You must invest time building relationships with your stakeholders.  Asking them to approve a strategy they are familiar with and understand its importance, greatly improve your chances of success.

Get involved with the key areas and functions of your organisation.  Understand any financial pressures your organisation may be facing.  Be realistic about your funding request and show how it will help achieve your organisation’s key priorities.

Involve the people who can make or break your intranet strategy and priorities. These are key stakeholders who are vital to the success of your intranet. Typically, they will be senior managers who are responsible for large groups and/or heavy users of your intranet and will decide on requests for investment.

Gaining the support of these stakeholders in key business areas and functions, which will help you to develop your strategy.   Ask your stakeholders how the strategy can help to support their goals and improve performance.

You need to make sure you have an even representation from key business areas and functions.  Try to avoid the ‘one representative from every business unit’ approach and focus on key stakeholders.  This will help give a well-rounded feel to the strategy and reflect key requirements across your organisation.

Getting the buy-in

It is essential your stakeholders have a clear picture with timescales, owners, costs and benefits.  It is the best way to justify the time and effort everyone will make developing the strategy.

Having senior people with the right authority means decisions are not delayed or ownership of them unclear.  This avoids delays with you implementing the strategy.

The phrase “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” perfectly describes how a meeting to approve your strategy should be run.  You will need the right agenda.  You present each point you need their decision on.  Again, this may take time but getting the best decisions will save far more hours of effort in future.

Make sure there are no surprises when you ask for approval to your strategy.  It needs to meet expectations and cover all the areas expected.  Critically, this will mean costs as well as estimated benefits must be included and clearly shown.  Do not fudge these because they have a habit of coming back to bite you in future!

I cannot stress strongly enough that your strategy needs to make the case for funding in clear terms.  Show a realistic estimate of the costs and the benefits to be achieved and timescales.

Be realistic about the amount of benefits you can deliver so you do not raise expectations too high.  Be clear how you will measure these benefits to demonstrate the changes.  This is critical to your integrity with stakeholders’ views and opinions on you and your intranet.

Adopting your strategy

Lastly, your stakeholders have to agree and adopt your strategy.  To increase your chance of success, present your strategy in a way they can easily understand.  Your approach should be to invest as much time connecting with your stakeholders as aligning your strategy with their plans and policies.  Follow this approach and you will be more successful gaining buy-in for your strategy.

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Thanks to Mark for sharing his knowledge with us. If you want to read more about intranet governance, Mark has  written a book Digital success or digital disaster?

 

Image credit: Mark’s profile pic, his own. Featured image – George Morris CCO, Splashbase.co

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