Use an intranet business case when your intranet needs to be renewed

26-10-2020 The intranet is the core of the modern workplace and is central for ensuring that information reaches all parts of the organization and all employees. But nothing lasts forever and when the time is right for a new intranet, a good business case is the way to ensure budget and necessary support from the management.

When is the time ripe for considering a new intranet?

  • When the employees can no longer find the information, they need
  • When the navigation and content is outdated, and employees stop using the intranet
  • Outdated technology like platform support, security, compatibility, and speed

No matter the reason for launching a new intranet, you should always start with a business case. 

A business case is a way to present the project for management and ensuring the necessary budget and mandate. Business cases are used as a management tool and focuses on the added values of the project. 

But how do you make a business case when the values of a new intranet are difficult to translate to monetary gain? How do you put a price on an improved navigation? Or what does it matter that content is up to date and relevant? Can you put a price on user engagement and support of communication and strategy?

Remember both the qualitative and quantitative values

An approach we've seen several times is to try and measure resources saved by having a better search function - for example we may expect that each employee can save 5 minutes per day by searching for information or carrying out a certain task and then multiplying an average cost for every employee. The issue with this calculation is that you end up with very large numbers that, of course, look nice on paper, but that are hard to translate into actual value for the company. And management sees through this. 

In a business case for a new intranet it's important to assess all the different advantages a new intranet will give - including potential savings but also added values and effects. In other words, you must describe both the qualitative and quantitative values added by the new intranet. These could be: 

  • Increased productivity 
  • Trustworthy content relevance
  • Information findability
  • Engagement and knowledge sharing across the organization 
  • User friendliness
  • Support of strategic initiatives 
  • Functionality like a mobile intranet or info screens
  • Technology savings

Collect your data

Before your start you need to collect information for your business case. Find out what works today and what does not work on your old intranet, what is strategically important for the organization right now and how do users use or don't use the intranet today.  You can do this through: 

  • User surveys
  • User interviews with different and representative types of users
  • Statistics and analytics on usage and content from the current intranet
  • The organization's strategic goals
  • IT-costs of operation and maintenance

When you know the extent of the issues and the needs of the employees the next step is to search for inspiration for how a new intranet can help in solving these challenges. It is a good idea to contact a supplier who knows the platform and can provide inspiration from other customers. You can also search for inspiration with other organizations that have had the same challenges as you are facing.

Find your intranet sponsor

To secure the continued success of the project, you will need a sponsor that can vouch for the relevance of the project and promote it to management. Your sponsor can be the manager of either Communication, HR, IT, or someone similar on CXO level. Present the challenges and possible solutions that you have identified and use your sponsor as your sparring partner through the rest of the process to ensure relevance and importance. 

When the challenges and possible solutions and you have found your sponsor it's time to start on the business case itself. There are many different templates available online but generally the business case should be kept short (a maximum of 1-2 pages) and in a comprehensible and relatively simple format in a table layout, and it should contain the following: 

  • A short description of the project - describe the overall challenges of the old intranet and what they mean for corporate productivity and relate it to corporate business strategy 
  • Possible solutions - Describe the various possible solutions
  • Advantages – Describe the advantages that a new intranet will provide for the organization
  • Approach – How to complete the project
  • Timing – How long will the project last
  • Cost – Get an estimate from your supplier for what the new intranet will cost and how long it will take. The supplier will also be able to tell you how many resources you should expect to use
  • Risks and limitations – what can get in the way of the success of the project
  • Recommendation – Conclude the business case by recommending the solution and approach to the project that you want the management to approve

Producing a convincing intranet business case is no trivial task. It is time consuming and requires a large amount of preparation. But if you make sure to have solid counseling on the way and make a believable business case it can not just clear a path for the project but also ensure the necessary support from management in the long run.