How to master intranet stakeholder management

Stakeholders can have the greatest influence on the success of an intranet project, yet it’s an often-overlooked aspect of intranet planning and design. To offer useful advice, we’ve put the questions to those that know. Mario Fantozzi - Principal Digital Workplace Consultant, shares his expertise on how to manage enterprise intranet stakeholders.

Woman using intranet on tablet

Enterprise intranet stakeholder management

Nobody can launch an enterprise intranet on their own, not without a strategy for intranet stakeholder management.

Along the road to digital transformation, you need support from various people across an organization. These are your stakeholders, and the way you manage them has a major influence on the impact of an intranet.

Gaining buy-in from influential figures, leadership, and users, can at times feel like spinning plates – when one group is happy, another pushes back – but getting it right can set digital transformation on the path to sustained success.

Intranet stakeholder management tips from an expert

Mario Fantozzi is a Principal Digital Workplace Consultant at Unily with over 7 years’ experience managing and consulting on intranet technology, employee experience, design thinking, strategic planning, and digital transformation.

Mario was previously a Director of Enterprise Digital Workplace and Collaboration for Dynacare and was pivotal in leading their Connexe platform to being named one of the World’s 10 Best Intranets by Nielsen Norman Group in 2020. To understand how to master stakeholder management and launch a world-class intranet solution, we spoke to Mario to get the latest insights from the ground.

'Dynacare enhance patient care with an award-winning healthcare intranet' Guide front cover

Case Studies

Dynacare: enhancing patient care with an award-winning healthcare intranet

For Canada’s largest and most established health solutions company, specialist knowledge is Dynacare’s lifeblood. Following a rebrand, the enterprise unveiled a collaboration-focused intranet that would underpin ambitious growth plans, enhance patient care, and even earn a spot among Nielsen Norman’s best intranets.

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#1. Before you even assemble stakeholders, how can you identify the right people to engage?

Stakeholder diagrams are one of the most valuable tools as they help visualize the complete “value web” of relationships that impact a digital transformation project. The first step of this process is to identify your key stakeholders and key relationships.

At the heart of this is the core team, but as we branch out the goal is to identify key relationships and categories of stakeholders that will impact the success of an intranet.

The most important stakeholders are always the users. How projects succeed is all about solving their challenges, this is where teams create value and innovation is born. Following this, there are suppliers, partnerships, strategic alliances, and other special interest groups.

The second step is to determine their influence and interest in your digital transformation.

Stakeholders with high influence and interest in your intranet are considered ‘key players’. Your team must focus their efforts and involve them in governance and key decision-making.

There will be stakeholders with high influence that aren’t directly impacted by the project; you still want their support because their voice carries weight. Make sure you engage them and increase their involvement to convert them to key players.

Stakeholders with high interest but low organizational influence should be involved in low-risk areas. Promote them as change agents or ambassadors that take on a ‘Do, Show, Tell’ role:

  • They “do” act as early adopters and spread awareness by communicating specific change messages
  • They “show” by helping peers embrace the new intranet through knowledge sharing and informal training
  • They “tell” by providing core teams with constructive feedback, helping to identify key issues and drive the evolution of your intranet

Stakeholders that fall outside of these categories may appear less important, but keep them informed. In the process you may heighten their interest, so they become boots-on-the-ground cheerleaders that spread excitement.

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#2. How can you align your stakeholders against your goals?

Getting any transformation project off the ground is all about building the case for change:

  • What is your organizations ‘burning platform’, and why should your stakeholders care?
  • What is the reason for change?
  • What do your stakeholders stand to gain?

To align stakeholders to change, connect to their heads, hands, and heart.

The 3 H’s is a learning model published by Benjamin Bloom, an educational psychologist, in 1956. Bloom’s theories remain relevant and, in my opinion, are a necessary ingredient to align stakeholders to your goals.

We connect to the “heads” of our stakeholders by speaking to their intellect. Messaging should convey impacts to the organization, why the change matters, and how our efforts align to our organizational drivers, strategy, and vision.

We connect to the “hearts” of our stakeholders through storytelling that creates a personal understanding and answers ‘what’s in it for me?’ How will our digital transformation change their working lives? How will it improve productivity and collaboration?

Finally, we connect to the “hands” of our stakeholders through calls to action. We move them toward adoption by engaging them in our transformational project. We help them acquire the skills necessary for change through training, education, and experiential learning.

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How to create an intranet business case that wins leadership support

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#3. How can you find a balance between various and often conflicting stakeholders? How do you weigh one stakeholder(s) goals against another’s?

When managing conflicting stakeholders, it’s important to gain a better understanding of their personas and attitudes toward change:

Enthusiasts (10%)

This group embraces and promotes change. They are invaluable for helping persuade fence-sitters, skeptics, and saboteurs.

How to manage them?

Give them space to learn and lead others.

How to leverage them?

Have them lead discussions and training sessions.

Fence-Sitters (60%)

These stakeholders are often quiet and passive followers. They are susceptible to both positive and negative persuasion, tending to take the past of least resistance.

How to manage them?

Keep them moving forward by testing their progress.

How to leverage them?

Use them as an example to forecast impact once change is adopted.

Personas

Skeptics (20%)

Skeptics openly question change. They may seem like saboteurs but offer useful constructive feedback. Skeptics can become influential enthusiasts if properly engaged or become saboteurs if not.

How to manage them?

Listen to them, but don’t give in to their demands.

How to leverage them?

Test new processes by having them try to poke holes in it.

Saboteurs (10%)

Saboteurs resist and discourage change. They may look like fence-sitters but spread negative energy, often motivated by politics or emotional attachments.

How to manage them?

Keep communicating with them until you convert them.

How to leverage them?

If you can convert them, they will lead the skeptics and fence-sitters.

Personas

#4. How involved should the C-suite be in an intranet project? How can you secure leadership buy-in?

Senior sponsorship inspires confidence that your organization is invested in unleashing the collective potential of its people. If your senior leadership team has yet to see the light, you must show them the light.

C-suite leaders often prefer objective, data-driven information balanced with qualitative research. CFOs, for example, will want to know the return on investment before giving the green light to change.

Data can generate insight into user adoption and engagement metrics with existing systems. If your bounce rate is 90%, for example, this may indicate that employees see no value in your existing platform, so they abandon it.

Qualitative insights can be gathered through face-to-face conversations, discovery workshops, observation analysis, employee engagement surveys, Net Promoter Scores, research tools, or my favorite – just ask!

Unily pulse surveys screen on mobile

And don’t forget the three H’s (heads, hands, and hearts), your C-suite has these too!

#5. With experience of both sides of intranet management, as a Director of Enterprise Digital Workplace and Collaboration with Dynacare and now as a Principal Digital Workplace Consultant on the vendor side for Unily, are there any lessons each side can learn from the other?

Organizational needs

Many organizations believe their needs are distinct and any digital solution must be customized in development to meet their vision. In reality, experience teaches you that most organizations have similar digital workplace needs. While the choice of which digital solution to implement may differ depending on their industry and business needs, the digital capabilities that enterprises seek tend to be common.

Organizational culture

Orchestrating a project plan ‘on a page’ does not reveal the intrinsic political and cultural obstacles to successfully delivering a new digital workplace. In my role, I often replace my ‘consulting hat’ with the ‘client hat’. I am familiar with the challenges they face because I’ve faced them too, when I was in their shoes.

Emotional intelligence – ‘feeling with their hearts’ and ‘seeing through their eyes’ – helps me better understand client pain points and goals. I translate this to high-level business requirements and solutions leveraging our robust Unily platform.

Be pragmatic

There are many ways to solve for client challenges, but we must always remember to be pragmatic in our approach and when we create solutions for them.

Be understanding

You must understand the political landscapes and cultures of organizations – what makes them tick – to move projects forward. These invaluable insights are only gained through hands-on experience, being immersed into the corporate worlds that clients live in. This helps you understand what they think and feel, what they hear, what they see, and what they say and do.

Writing an intranet business case guide pages

Guides

Creating a compelling intranet business case - guide and template

With over 10 years of experience creating intranet platforms and supporting business case creation, we’ve pooled our knowledge to create a compelling intranet business case guide and supporting template designed to win leadership support.

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