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How To Gain Budget (and buy-in) For Your Intranet Project

How much should your organization allocate for your intranet budget in 2023? What are the factors to consider?

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Analyst group, Gartner, predicts a 5.1%

increase in IT spending for 2023.


Intranets have become a vital tool for organizations of all sizes, enabling them to conect their employees and streamline their operations. As we head into 2023, the need for robust intranets is only increasing. 

Intranet projects often don't get the resources needed to stand them up, let alone maintain and improve them.  Capital projects, such as a new intranet or a digital workplace refresh, require buy-in to gain momentum.

Applications used to enhance the business are taking precedence over those with minimal impact.  Organizations around the globe are putting more of an emphasis on the digital workplace.  

So that's where this webinar comes in.  From gaining allies across departments to navigating the tricky negotiation and procurement scene, we have a how-to guide that is sure to advance strategies and decisions. 

This webinar will benefit:

  • Teams advocating for a new intranet project or a digital workplace refresh
  • Decision-makers seeking a better way to track ROI with an investment of this size
  • Companies hesitating to put budget behind their intranets and digital workplaces

Intranet projects are a little bit of an animal in and of themselves.

According to Forrester, only 65% of employees are satisfied with the ability of the employee portal or intranet to meet their needs.  Unfortunately, this probably doesn't come as much of a surprise to many. 

Another unsurprising matter is that for the majority of those unhappy or struggling with their employee portals or intranets, their biggest downfall is the lack of budget to put behind this sort of capital project.  To translate, this really means it is not a priority. 

So, how do you overcome this and make enterprise applications like an intranet or employee portal a true priority?  To answer this question, we first need to look at three smaller elements:

  • Where do budgets go?
  • How do you start a movement?
  • Putting on your sales hat

This guide will help us work together through these three factors and make employee experience a priority again. 


Where do budgets go?

We've all heard the phrase, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease."  

In terms of where/how budgets are allocated, it’s always been the impression that the people who talk the loudest and the people who are the most incessant get the money, but this isn’t necessarily true.

In actuality, budget allocation follows this structure:

  • Priority:  Solves the biggest problem
  • Impact:  Most return on investment (ROI)
  • Visibility:  Lots of people will see/benefit

These are the three areas where budgets typically get distributed on a yearly basis and for the most part, these priorities, impacts, and visibilities are decided way before the budget cycle even begins.

Yes, organizations are asked to put their budget together, but it’s not as simple as writing it down, waving a magic wand and counting your cash.  These priorities, impacts, and visibilities are discussed throughout the year.  Roadmaps are typically created to help organize business initiatives, pain is often felt for the priorities, and all of this happens long up until the budget is actually decided upon.

So the priority in terms of solving the biggest problem, the impact, having the most return on investment, and the visibility are ultimately the areas that decide where the dollars go.

What you’re going to be looking to do, is essentially identify the solutions that benefit the mot people, what gets the most return on investment and then what is the largest visibility across the organization.

So your goal is going to be to spotlight the pain points or problems that a technology can help solve across multiple departments.

When you really think about it, what it comes down to is Pain = Priority -  the more painful something is, the more of a priority it becomes with an organization. For example, if everyone in your organization couldn’t access their email on any given day, that would be the highest priority.  If your customers couldn’t access the website, that would be a huge priority because that would ultimately affect the sales cycle. 

As employees, we tend to minimize our impacts on ourselves and consequently, the intranet is not seen as a big priority.  This whitepaper reveals information and artifacts that well help you work with your team to unearth what the pain feels like to make it a bigger priority for your organization.


How do you start a movement?

In order to do that, sometimes you need to gain the buy-in.  One of the best examples to demonstrate gaining buy-in comes from a TedTalk by Derek Sivers around ‘How to start a movement.’  In just three minutes, this clip explains lots of different things in terms of how you can actually get people to help you and to affect change in a corporate landscape.

When you start thinking abut all of the different hoops you have to jump through to get things done within your organization, even the things that seem so obvious and so impactful, you start to realize the backing you must have on your side. 

So many people who have ideas for a project find it challenging, depending on where they’re at in the organization, to take that idea and actually turn it into something big.  There are some companies that provide an avenue for this though and generally welcome innovation.

A great example of this, and one we’ve seen quite frequently, is hosting a company-wide “Shark Tank.” Inspired by the popular TV show, this opportunity allows anyone from within the organization who have ideas to pitch it to a group of their peers and ultimately get funding.  Typically in these scenarios, the company will put aside a set budget for the “winning” idea.  We’ve actually seen intranets get funding through these idea-driven and peer-led opportunities. 

Another company we worked with did something called “The Innovation Contest” and it could be anything from technology or processes and there were approx. 20-30 things that got submitted every year and again, it was the opportunity for peers to vote on what they thought would work the best and then there was the intent that it would then gain funding.

There are a lot of different opportunities for companies to take on and foster this type of an environment, but if that doesn’t exist for you, so if you’re in a company where there isn’t a shark tank or an innovation contest, the best thing you can do, like the video said – find the biggest fans of your project across the organization and form a partnership with them.  Make them your equals and ultimately bring them along for the ride.

As we talked about just a few minutes ago, the biggest fans of your project, or of buy-in for an intranet are probably going to be the same people who feel the biggest pain. So if you have the pain that is enough for you to start a project and own a project and move it forward, there are probably others in the organization who are feeling that same level of pain and who would gladly be with you and form a partnership.

One thing that is important to remember when embarking on a big project like an intranet, in terms of project management, it’s not going to be smooth sailing.  The following image metaphorically depicts how many enterprise projects run their course, though many would argue there should also be some fire and sharks in the water.

But with this, it’s important to remember that change takes time and so for whatever journey you’re on right now – whether you’re trying to get buy-in into your organization’s intranet project or to increase the amount of support or resources that your intranet gets, remember that it takes time to change people’s minds, it takes time to build your business case, it takes time to do all of these things and so there will be some rocky steps along the way but ultimately, that end goal is what you’re searching for and the journey might be rough, but eventually when you get to where you want to be, think of all of the changes that it’s going to make and the good that it’s going to do for your organization.

Now, the way that we ultimately build the business case is actually first, to not even focus on budget.  To build a momentum for a particular project is to talk about the pain. i.e. Why is there a need for a change? Why is there a problem that we encounter on a daily basis? And how would something that we’re going to bring in make it better for the company? How ultimately would being able to share news across the organization improve the overall quality of employment for HR, Comms, IT leadership. What are those things that would make the biggest amount of difference?

There are 2 groups that we look at when we talk about painpoints. The first is the painpionts for the employee base. So the employee base consists of everyone who works in your company that just need access to the information, that need to be connected to the business as well as to each other. One thing we predicate at Akumina is that an intranet is to connect your employees to the business, their tasks, and to each other. So anyone who is trying to get connected but maybe isn’t an administrator, or doesn’t have internal stakeholders that they’re accountable for, or doesn’t have to update communications or news or events or any type of content on the intranet.  They’re the folks that are outside of it but are the biggest users of it.

Then there’s all of those groups as you can see (HR, IT, Comms, Leadership), that ultimately have a stake in how that intranet performs and how that intranet does. So when you do a painpoint analysis to make your intranet project a bigger priority within your organization, you should be looking at all of these different groups, asking all of these different groups what they are, and then ultimately this becomes your prioritization for your needs analysis (more info below).

So how do we do this?  The document below is a very simple example document based off of one of the clients that we worked with recently that essentially takes what the pain point is. This was a shared document so anyone in the stakeholder group that wanted to be part of the movement, anyone who wanted to be part of bringing a new intranet into the organization could go in and list out what the pain was and why there were issues and what was the reason for them to need a new intranet. So what they did was ultimately tier it by red, orange, and yellow. So anything that was felt by all employee groups, any issue that was brought forward was listed as red. And that is obviously the area where you want the most amount of things.  Then there was orange, so things that were felt by 2 or more of the groups, and then yellow was things that were felt by a single group or that were listed as a single group.

This particular exercise for our customer really brought to life for leadership and folks who were not as close to dealing with the intranet and the technology and the pain of it to actually understand what was happening and why it was such an important thing for employees to have an intranet project – to be able to update and make sure that your intranet is where it needs to be for 2023.  Intranets or modern digital workplaces ultimately are supposed to be that hub that connects everyone together and so by understanding that right now that is not the case, they were ultimately able to move the intranet project up from a year out to the current year budget. Because there’s always money. Pain will ultimately bring out the money and so once you actually list it all out and come together in a concerted effort, this is certainly the way to do that.


Putting on your sales hat

Once you have all of this together, the next piece is to put on your sales hat.  And I know that this seems a little bit obvious, so you’re going to need to do some level of “selling” within the organization to have people join the movement to get buy-in for your project, but then also to get the budget. An interesting way to do it is to get agreement with each step and actually ask the question of do we agree and have that person or have that group say yes back to you. So then what you’re doing, is you’re bringing them along on a journey with you.  The agreement at every single step so that then there is the opportunity so that if you start to slip in one direction like “oh well do we really need that?”, you can at least go back and say “yes, we agreed here, here, here, and here and here’s the path of how we got to there.” So you don’t lose the entire bit of momentum when you’re working through this process, you may just need to go back a couple steps and check back up, but there isn’t an issue where you’re starting all the way back at the beginning.

So for example, when we’re going through and creating that painpoints analysis, that needs analysis, and ultimately coming up with the budget and the recommendations, the question is ‘do we agree that there’s an issue?’. So as long as everyone around the table is saying “yes, there’s something in this intranet, there’s a whole bunch of things in this intranet that’s an issue” and “do we agree that we need to fix it?” Those are the simple steps to say yes we have the issue, yes we agree we need to fix it.  Once everyone comes to that conclusion, the budget and the buy-in becomes a lot more of a simple process. And those are two questions that a lot of people actually shy away from because they don’t actually want the answer. Typically everyone agrees that there’s an issue, but the agree that we need to fix it, that’s the one that gets a little bit tricky sometimes.

The third, and if you have one and two, the third is the icing on the cake, “do we agree that it is a priority, or do we agree that it is a priority for 2023, do we agree that it’s a priority for 2024? And at least then, you have a timeline in terms of when you would be able to ultimately get the budget for your intranet project.

So do we agree that there’s an issue, do we agree that we need to fix it, and then do we agree that it is a priority – those big questions for you stakeholder group are going to be the most impactful in terms of getting overall budget and buy-in for your intranet project.


Additional Resources

A resource that I want to share with you that is readily available to you so we can further help when it comes to executing this project, is the 2023 ClearBox Consulting Intranet and Employee Experience Platform report.  

ClearBox Consulting is an analyst group that conducts a comprehensive review of intranet and employee experience flatforms.  If you download the 770-page report, you will see full in-depth reviews of the leading out-of-the-box intranets as well as platform-based solutions.  The report will also give you access to their budget matrix broken down by employee/user count.


Call to Action

Who is going to be the first person you reach out to? Now that you know more about how to start a movement, prioritizing painpoints, and how to build a business case, who is the person who will help you move this project forward?

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