There are many reasons that Intranets often lack the support of company leadership. One of the main ones I see is that the decision makers are unaware of the potential Intranets have to provide enormous value to the organisation. Another problem is that many of these benefits, like enhancing employee engagement and loyalty for example, are not always tangible or measurable.
I have had varying degrees of success in gaining support for the Intranet and it requires a great amount of passion and enthusiasm. It is not just a case of presenting a business case to the executive committee and hoping to gain approval.
There are a few things that I tend to work hard on before I drop a proposal on an executive’s desk.
Become a goto person for key people.
I like to build up a strong relationship with executive assistants. They are people who can help you get a foot in the door. Spend time getting to know them but more importantly how you and the Intranet can help them. I have had great success in the past by providing something as simple as an online local services directory. Having all the details of the dry cleaners, florists, caterers and any other services they use regularly can help make their job easier. If you can identify how the Intranet can help them work they will be more inclined to help you when you need it.
Become known to the company leadership.
I am sure you have all had to attend things like financial results presentations, product launches and even end of year celebrations. These are all excellent opportunities to get to know the company leaders and more importantly let them get to know you. You do need to be prepared for these things though. You need to do a bit of research on each executive (thank you Google & Linkedin). Learn a bit about them, where they worked previously etc. It’s
great if you can find out what they enjoy when not working (executive assistants are excellent help with that one). That way when you introduce yourself at the next informal company gathering you will always have something to discuss that you can be reasonably sure they will be interested in. At the formal presentations come prepared. Read the company annual results, have intelligent and relevant questions prepared. Sit up the front (this is a simple thing but something many people try to avoid).
Give executives some Intranet facility for them.
Again, engaging the EA can help you find out what is needed here. Some of the things I have provided are Market Analyst Reports portal, online archive of board papers, daily media monitoring service, online communication channel like a Blog or a Vlog. Its up to you to find out what they need and deliver. The reward though is that if they have a reason to go to the Intranet daily, they will start to appreciate its value.
Become a great sales person.
After spending some time doing all the previous groundwork you will be in a better position to present business cases for further enhancement and development. Working demonstrations tend to work better that just a written proposal and presentation. For example if you want money and approval to roll out a collaboration suite across the organisation, try and mock up an example site and scenario that helps the audience visually understand how collaboration can work and what benefits it can offer. Most importantly, keep your demonstrations or presentations short, simple and relevant to your organisation.
On many occasions I have gone ahead and implemented changes and developments without gaining formal approval. Some have worked and some have not. I do like to follow the advice of Rear Admiral Grace Hopper "If it's a good idea, go ahead and do it. It is much easier to apologise than it is to get permission".