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Building an intranet business case

Win leadership support with a compelling intranet business case. Access all the guidance you could possibly need; find out what you should include and exactly what stakeholders, finance, and senior management need to see before they can approve your new intranet project.

Discover the most effective way to build an intranet case for your business, depending on the type of project, the stakeholders’ priorities, and any other justification you may need before it can be signed off.

Accompanying this guide is a business case template that will help you get to grips with how to write one for your own company. This guide will facilitate and assist your use of the template, covering four main points that must be addressed in your business case:

  • A description of the problem (or opportunity) which has arisen
  • Some discussion of the available options
  • The benefits offered by the solution(s) and cost details
  • A recommendation for how to move forward

Of course, every business is different; the template should be edited and changed to fit the demands of your company and project. It’s also important to note that this guide has been written to support businesses that are at the beginning of their intranet project journey. For more information and an insight into how an intranet might positively affect your business, view an Intranet Case Study.

Download the template

Refer to this intranet business case template as you make your way through our guide. It will show you step by step how to best demonstrate the potential intranet business value for your company, with concrete examples of how fictional client “Daisy Kane” outlined their existing problem, detailed the intranet project plan, and documented what they would need for the approvals process.

Download the template.

Get a free copy of the intranet business case template by clicking the button and filling out a few details.

Considerations when building an intranet business case

What makes an effective intranet?

Before delving into creating your intranet business case, it’s important to understand the advantages of an intranet in business. Your company will receive help in the following key ways:

  1. Improved communication - email, voice, video, instant messaging, and socials create avenues for super-fast communication
  2. Greater collaboration - the ability to work on documents simultaneously or track changes made by specific colleagues quickly
  3. Easier to find people - interactive people directories allow users to search using sophisticated criteria including name, specialism, and department
  4. Making searching for documents simpler - using an intuitive homepage displaying relevant news and up-to-date information, alongside a robust search function
  5. Improve employee loyalty and sense of belonging - employee-specific workspaces where interaction with peers and managers is simple and welcoming
  6. Sharing best practice - improve productivity with easily accessible and shareable documents
  7. Up-level customer service - easy-to-search documents mean efficiency when finding client-specific information
  8. Increase productivity - a cohesive intranet, accessible in one place, creates a more efficient workplace and improves your employee's disposition toward the business

Best intranet software guide pages

Guide

How to decide what intranet software is best for you

There is little doubt of the benefits of modern intranet software over an aging, static legacy intranet. But with so many options out there, how do you know where to start? Download our comprehensive guide today to understand the questions you should be asking before deciding upon intranet software.

Get the guide

Before you get started

Before you approach your intranet business case, it can be useful to read previous ones that have been written for similar projects within your organization. This will help you understand how others have approached the issue, allowing you to see what worked and what could be improved.

Where traditional business cases focus primarily on the project acquisition cost (along with any associated fees and maintenance costs), it’s important to consider software as a service model. This means that while these traditional calculations may still be relevant, software costs are lower, evenly spaced out, and require an alternative way of thinking when it comes to accounting.

How to build your intranet business case

As previously mentioned, there is no set template or formula that will fit every single business case - it must serve the needs of the project and business at hand. With that said, there are 9 main steps you can take to create a compelling business case that will present the best version of your project's justification.

With each step, take a look at the intranet business case template to see an example of that step put into action.

#1. Executive summary

An executive summary must contain the top-level details of your project including what needs to be accomplished and how. It’s particularly important because it’s likely that stakeholders will only read this summary before making a decision. This means it must cover all the salient points in an easily digestible format and explain the advantages of intranet in business.

Current situation

Begin with a brief mention of the organization’s status quo, highlighting what is currently causing issues and what may become a problem down the line.

Goals of the digital workplace

List what will be achieved with a new intranet, tying it into the wider strategic goals of the business. Ensure stakeholders see that the plan is aligned with the higher business strategy. Use a bullet point format to make this concise and easily readable.

Supplier

Explain why a particular supplier has already been chosen, or present one that would best fit your organization’s direction. Consider whether they meet a key objective, provide long-term value, or offer a unique service.

Project plan

Include deadlines, who will take charge of specific project areas like implementation, and when the project will begin.

Investment

State the cost of the project, while highlighting the pros and cons of it compared to the current one being actioned by your business.

#2. Project background

Provide relevant context as to why this project is required, also explaining what has already been done in the past. Consider answering questions like:

  • Why is the existing solution no longer fit for purpose?
  • What can be improved on?

Undertake research like employee surveys and focus groups to assess the biggest problems and create an argument as to why a new intranet is needed.

Business drivers

Highlight the business drivers that a new intranet would support. For example, a driver may be that the structure of your company has recently become more complex and requires more efficient collaboration across growing departments. Additional drivers include:

  • A new business acquisition
  • A particular campaign, such as a rebrand
  • The current intranet unbecoming incompatible with systems in use
  • A new business objective aimed at getting all public documents onto the cloud
  • Commercial or operational changes driving a need to upgrade

Current challenges

Address each main point fed back from the employee survey stage, explaining what your colleagues believe is causing the biggest issues. It’s useful to specifically address the concerns raised by your IT and Corporate Communications teams, as they normally take ownership of the intranet.

Statistics and percentages are just as compelling as direct quotes from individuals and help to create a narrative summarizing the points all users agree upon.

Goals of the digital workplace

Your digital workplace business case should list the project's objectives, how they can be achieved, and how they align with wider corporate objectives. Using the same language as that in corporate strategy documents can be useful to help emphasize any similarities.

Scope

Discuss what the intranet project plan will encompass, such as user numbers, territories/countries, languages, devices, and other relevant metrics.

Risks of not implementing

Address what will happen if your company decides to not go forward with your intranet business case. This should examine further costs of maintaining the status quo, any opportunities that may be missed, and showcase why the company would be worse off. Common high-level risks to consider include; the impact on people, technology, other projects, and budgets/finances.

#3. Digital workplace requirements

This section gets into the nitty gritty of your digital workplace business case. Some of you may have already researched vendors and roughly planned out the capabilities you need. If you haven’t chosen a particular vendor and are unsure of what functionality you need, keep these requirements high-level and focused on the outcome, rather than the technology. E.g. ‘Ability to publish communications in multiple languages’ rather than ‘automatic translation’.

Make this section of the business case easy to scan through, using bullet points and tables. This helps to clearly present what can be a large amount of information.

Gathering requirements

Specify once more the research and sample set you undertook to get to this stage, such as the focus groups and surveys previously mentioned. This will demonstrate how an intranet will address the company’s wider needs and represent the employees’ interests across the entire business.

Requirements

Using the business case goals and objectives addressed in the Executive Summary, create a table of the functionalities required to achieve them.

For example, a functionality like communication would mean that the intranet should include content scheduling and automatic translation. You can break down functionality into:

  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Knowledge management
  • Employee networking
  • Productivity
  • Accessibility

These cover all the functions and capabilities a modern digital intranet should possess, creating a better understanding of exactly how the business can benefit. If you do not know what functionalities are required, focus on the desired outcome - your intranet vendor can help specify exactly what you need.

#4. Current intranet marketplace

To prove that your business case is well thought out, it’s important to include an analysis of the current market with a comparison of the available solutions.

Comparison of solutions available

It’s not simply a matter of cost. When deciding on an intranet supplier, you must review the longevity of the platform, the support options available, and which would best meet the project goals.

Compare every option, stating their differences, strengths, and weaknesses. You should find at least three examples to ensure your stakeholders understand why you eventually decided on one.

Comparison of investment

While cost is not the only factor, it’s an important one. Create a chart and display every cost associated with each supplier, inducing the costs over time. Your internal accounts or business finance department will be able to guide you as to how best to structure this for your organization.

In the intranet market, there has been an increasing trend of moving away from custom intranet development projects and an increase in the use of ready-made intranet solutions that are delivered in a subscription model. It’s important to explain this shift in the marketplace to those who are approving the document, as they may be unaware of these changes. It will help to solidify your argument and assure stakeholders you’ve done due diligence.

Analysis

Conclude and justify, based on the analysis, why your choice of intranet provider is the best one. This will likely be because it better fits the needs of your business.

#5. Proposed approach

This section should summarize the decision-making that has led up to this point, and then propose a way forward. Discuss which vendor is the preferred solution, and explain why this decision was made, referencing the tables in the previous section.

Preferred solution

In explaining your preferred vendor, it can be useful to discuss why another was rejected. The reason for this rejection may have led to you choosing the alternative vendor and it’s important to explain this. The main deciding factor should be clear to ensure stakeholders are convinced by the decision.

The solution’s strategic benefits

Outline the reasons you settled on your choice of intranet provider. For a SaaS intranet business case, you may list the following benefits:

  • Evergreen
  • Less management
  • Good user experience
  • Customer success services
  • Scalable and flexible

Explain how these benefits support the wider business strategy, making it clear that the chosen provider is the only way forward.

Expected business impact

Explore the impact of this change on the business, considering every department. Statistics and data can help quantify the effect of the project if the data is relevant.

#6. Measuring results

Measuring the success of a project is imperative, and not just to prove whether it has met its targets and covered the objectives. Controls should be used to gauge and prove the launch's success, assuring the project team and the wider business of a job well done. The exact details of what should be measured, and how, depend on the individual business.

Desired results based on goals

Set out the projected results and returns from investing and implementing the intranet from your chosen provider. You may measure these results in a variety of ways, including:

  • SMART objectives (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timed)
  • Engagement figures
  • Time spend on the site
  • Qualitative surveys undertaken post-launch

Identify what success looks like for your business, and exactly how you will prove it. Ensure your supplier is aware of these objectives, to keep all parties working towards a united goal of providing intranet value.

Return on investment

Detail how you will measure your intranet ROI and what it will mean for your business. Gone are the days of complex mathematical equations to prove the time saved from completing a form. Realistically, time employees may have saved on one task may now be taken up contributing to the intranet or taking on an intranet champion role.

Outline how you intend to measure progress from old to new. Conducting employee surveys with qualitative results is a good activity to undertake before the new platform’s launch, so you can compare results afterward.

Try to break down the soft and hard benefits of implementing the intranet, calling out specific ways you will measure this if applicable. If the Unily platform is chosen, then relate to the specific metrics you can gather from the platform’s built-in intranet analytics, as seen in the template example.

Using an intranet ROI calculator can help you to add persuasive figures to your business case. You may also want to include examples of additional cost savings that support the business value of an intranet. This will help to justify your intranet business case and ROI. Here are some to consider.

Reduce overhead costs

Get the most out of your budget. Small changes can make a big impact. Going paperless and making use of remote work are both great ways to optimize expenses. Intranets help to streamline operations and maximize workplace efficiency.

Retire outdated software

Did you know that sticking to outdated tech can cost more than upgrading? A 2017 study found that US businesses lose up to $1.8b annually in lost productivity due to obsolete technology. Another study revealed that 9 out of 10 customers are likely to switch companies if they see the digital processes as old-fashioned. Stress the importance of avoiding being stuck with costly antiquated programs - stay ahead of the curve by investing in modern solutions.

Capitalize on built-in support and updates

IT disruptions and downtime cost $700 billion annually, according to IHS. But with out-of-the-box intranets, those costly interruptions can be nearly eliminated. Not only will businesses save money on downtime costs — they'll also get built-in support and compliance without expensive extras. The real business value of an intranet like this pays off in the long term.

Limit new hires

With an out-of-the-box intranet, you gain access to round-the-clock technical support saving your enterprise the cost of employing multiple developers. Or, if administration staff are more of a concern, automating processes and built-in help can reduce administrative duties while keeping operations running smoothly.

Faster onboarding

Better onboarding leads to a large return on investment. Glassdoor research shows it could result in an 82% boost in employee retention and 70% increase in productivity. On top of that, better learning and development opportunities help reduce the estimated $1 trillion loss due to voluntary resignations annually.

An intranet with resources like FAQ pages or video how-tos is one great way for companies to revamp the onboarding process and make new hires feel welcome – all while benefiting the bottom line.

Consolidate the employee experience

Modern intranets offer a wealth of features in one convenient package, saving both time and money. From digital signage software to event management platforms and emergency notification systems, digital workplaces provide all these capabilities together, in one place. Reduce staff training needs and fees with one all-inclusive digital platform.

Prevent costly security breaches

Security breaches can be expensive for businesses. IBM estimates that the average cost of a data breach in the US is $9.44m, and $4.35m globally. Fortunately, intranet features such as two-step authenticator apps and mobile device management (MDM) programs can protect enterprises from digital attacks and associated costs.

Use of analytics

Detail how your use of analytics will demonstrate whether the new platform has achieved the desired results previously outlined.

This section could be replaced with ROI and ROX Calculations, which might include some more traditional calculations of how the intranet will save time and money e.g. reducing printing costs and reducing employee turnover, which has a monetary value.

Aim to be as realistic as possible. Do not over-promise on theories that might be less meaningful when the site launches

What are good metrics for an intranet?

There are a variety of intranet metrics you can use to evaluate your intranet’s payoffs for the business case.

  • Absenteeism
  • Retention rates
  • Onboarding time reduction
  • Information search time gain
  • Reduction in meeting time
  • Number of visits, likes, shares, and logins
  • Employee satisfaction

For a detailed list, take a look at this ROI of employee engagement guide.

#7. Project planning

A good plan anticipates potential problems and accommodates common hiccups along the way. Always allow for contingency. Being overly optimistic runs the risk of putting the project behind schedule at the first hurdle.

When mapping out the stages of a plan that involves multiple parties, get approval and sign off wherever possible. Trying to launch an initiative while a key player is on annual leave will cause headaches all around and can be avoided with some prior coordination.

Timescales

If there is a specific deadline that is important to the business, demonstrate how the project fits into that timeline. Remember to allow flexibility in case of delays, as they are usually inevitable.

Risks

The definition of a ‘risk’ in this case is anything that may affect the delivery or usage of the solution. For due diligence, it’s always a good idea to weigh up the risks associated with the technology.

If an analysis document exists, start there (in a SWOT analysis the cues may be in ‘weaknesses’ or ‘threats’). Otherwise, consider the following potential risks and apply the ones relevant to the project.

  • Strategic
  • Financial
  • Technical
  • Competitive
  • Environmental
  • Operational
  • Industrial

Rate the likelihood and impact of each risk and consider what can be done to mitigate them. Some risks are common to many projects, so refer to other recent business cases to see what risk factors affect projects in your business universally.

There is also the option of breaking each risk down further into ‘mitigation’ (how to avoid the problem) and ‘contingency’ (what to do if it does happen).

#8. Governance

Inform stakeholders of who the key players are. State clearly who is responsible for what and make sure it doesn’t come as a surprise to the project team.

Roles and responsibilities

All projects run better where there is visibility and accountability for those involved. Clearly defining each role minimizes the chance of misunderstanding and helps people outside the project, notably higher management, identify the right team member to approach for their needs.

This section’s contents will depend on how the project is being run internally.

Key players may include:

  • Governance Team
  • Project Team
  • Intranet Champions

Be sure to consider if the team will change at any stage. For example, will the responsibility for the day-to-day running of the platform change once the intranet is launched?

#9. Business case approval

Many businesses require multiple sign-offs for projects to go ahead or for purchase orders to be raised. Generally, the larger the business or the amount being spent, the more people need to see it.

For example, let’s say four business units require sign-off and the approvals must be attained in a specific order. Once the department where the project originated has signed off (HR in this case), it goes to finance so they can check over the figures and make accruals where necessary. Only at this stage will it go to legal. The legal team is often one of the busiest internal departments, and care should be taken to ensure the digital workplace business case is as close to being signed off as possible before seeking its input. The last sign-off is always the highest level within the organization.

Unfortunately, any of these departments could send the business case back for amends. If this happens, they will put a note in the comments box, so be sure to leave room for an explanation of the issue.

TIP: The approval process can be a long and tedious task. Re-circulating amended copies of the business case is time-consuming for all involved. Try scheduling 20-minute ‘warm-up’ meetings before kicking off the process. A sit-down with each key decision maker to get their feedback significantly ups the chance of getting a sign-off the first time around.

The format of this section, and the specific process will depend on the business. Refer to similar documents and internal guidelines for a starting point.

How L'Oréal created an intranet business case that won leadership support

Creating a compelling business case to demonstrate the value of a new platform to stakeholders and leadership teams can be one of the most challenging parts of your digital workplace journey.

Watch this webinar, hosted by leading technology publication CMSWire, and get first-hand advice from L'Oréal's Internal Communications team on how to create a captivating intranet business case.

On-demand

How to create an intranet business case that wins leadership support

L'Oréal reveals how they created a compelling intranet business case that wins leadership support. Learn the key questions you must ask when creating your business case.

Watch on-demand

Build a successful intranet business case

No matter the organization or job role, crafting a successful digital workplace business case to get leadership buy-in isn’t a simple task. However, with proper preparation, this guide, and the template, success is well within your reach. If you need help, reach out to get our expert support on building a business case for Unily within your business:

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