How to sell an intranet redesign to your boss!

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to listen to a webinar from the team at Prescient on how to "sell" an intranet resdesign to your boss or management team. Toby started out by saying that the intranet business case should be about more then just ROI. The intranet business case should weave a complete story and outline the cost benefits, the ROI and the opportunities created/problems solved by introducing a new intranet or redesigning the existing one.

Identifying the problems/requirements

This is a multi-stage process and will usually involve one or more of the following:

  • Gap analysis
  • Identifying business requirements
  • Identifying user requirements
  • Benchmarking

Once you understand what you need to do, you can start to think about how you're going to deliver the plans and design. This will involve a number of the elements listed below.

  • Strategic planning
  • Governance
  • Functional planning
  • Business Case
  • Metrics (KPI's)
  • Social media utlisation
  • Information Architecture
  • User experience (Design)

    Why intranets are important

    Managing an intranet you can often forget what it is that makes an intranet important. So when selling an intranet to management it's important to always to keep the following reasons why intranets are important in mind:

    • Intranets can help recruit and retain staff
    • Intranets can help increase productivity
    • Intranets can engage employees
    • Intranets help knowledge workers productivity

    Metrics for selling

    Stressing the following intranet values, will also assist with your pitch:
    • Streamlining business processes
    • Improving operational efficiences
    • Enhancing communication and collaboration
    • Reducing the cost of internal business units
    • Improving and supporting sales
    • Increasing sales

    Unfortunately much of the value derived from an intranet is latent, intangible and softer, which means it can be hard to show how important it is. Here is an example of this using a real life tool. So we all understand that the telephone and email are vital for business and we'd never query these tools nowadays. Intranets are much like telephones in this respect, much of the value is unseen and not measurable, but it is inherently understood by individuals. There are of course many benefits to intranets, these were discussed at some length by Toby and included the following:

    • Hard cost savings
    • Increased sales
    • Increased productivity
    • Competitivenes
    • Application Access
    • Collaborative features
    • Onboarding

    Toby then discussed how ROI in relation to intranets is really about selling the benefit and when you're selling an intranet redesign to your boss, you really need to put your sales hat and game face on! Toby also stressed the important of measuring as much as possible and to be aggressive when doing so. Ultimately the more you put in the tougher it is for your boss to say NO!

    Toby then looked at some examples of companies that had looked at some alternative ROI methods. These include looking at the ROI from Web 2.0 service as well as the ROI from wikis and social networking tools. Finally Toby outlined 6 killer reasons for redesigning an intranet, they were:

    • Customer service
      • Improve sales
      • Wikis and blogs can reduce customer service calls
    • Executives need it
      • 94% of executives said that they use the intranet for communications
    • The competition is doing it
      • They're retaining and attracting staff as a result
    • Add tacit and explicit knowledge to a sea of context
      •  Will make individuals more effective and increase sales
    • New hires expect it
      • Employees under 40 use social media everyday. They expect the company that employes them to do the same
    • Non-conformers
      • There is not much you can do about these individuals, who don't care what you think. You need to sell to EVERYBODY else!
    This was an excellent webinar from Toby Ward and Presceient and it has certainly helped me identify what we need to focus on, if we were to ever think about redesigning our intranet.

    It's all about social at the moment!

    Social media it would seem has still got a long course to run. This was evidenced by two posts I read this week, which relate specifically to how law firms and fee-earners can use social media.

    The first is from the Real Lawyers have blogs blog and sets out "Five tips for law firms using social media" this is actually a response to "Five tips for corporate social media" with some annotation from Kevin. So the first tip is around Engagement and how law firms can no longer just rely on press releases and publications to represent their brand. Increasingly a law firms image is reliant on the thoughts and conversations fee-eaners have either on blogs or on Twitter. Engaging with these audiences is a key way to build a brand.

    The second tip is about Asking the questions you want answered. As Kevin points out in his blog "The conversation between companies and customers can be extremely valuable for both parties. Use social media to learn what your stakeholders expect from you as well as gain new ideas and feedback regarding the legal and business issues that concern them" Social media tools include blogs and Twitter can also be useful in providing feedback online, demonstrating that a law firm cares about the work they do and that they are in touch with what is happening in particular industries. The next tip Kevin looks at is Listening. Kevin puts listening as his number one tip when managing social media and I tend to agree. It's all very well being on Twitter and blogs, but there are so many avenues for individuals to publish online that you need to be listening as much as you can. This means having RSS feeds and searches setup and using Twitter and LinkedIn to see what people are saying. Ultimately listening will help improve a service a law firm is providing. 

    The next tip is around Responding this is especially important in the context of social media tools like Twitter as individuals expect accounts to be monitored. As a result responses to questions and concerns should be replied to quickly. This will include any requests to connect on LinkedIn, friend requests on Facebook and deciding whether you want to follow someone back on Twitter. The last tip is about being Authentic. There are two aspects to this, the first is about being genuine and fully transparent. The second is potentially more difficult and is about being personable and sharing who is behind the Tweeting and blog posting, rather then just using these tools as a means to push out Press Releases.

    The next blog post I read, which I thought was well worth reporting on was on the Law Firm Web Strategy Blog. In the post called "Lawyers and social searching" Steve Matthews looks at the potential impact of the upcoming battle between Facebook and Google in relation to search. Steve begins by outlining his definition of social searching, if you're unclear about social searching, then this a very good place to start. Before looking at some of the challenges both Google and Facebook will face when it comes to encouraging their respective users to use their search tool. As Steve says, "the challenges pretty much add up to a race between “Adding social to your search” versus “adding search to your social"

    The big question for law firms is whether social influence and social search means a better product for those individuals marketing legal services. Steve has two very valid concerns when it comes to social search and legal services. (1) What are people searching for (2) The demographics of the people being asked the questions. What are people searching for is a concern, because individuals are unlikely to search on Facebook for great divorce lawyers or great insolvency specialists. This could well be embarassing. The second bigger issue for Steve is around demographics and specifically "Do users actually value the opinion of their network?" In this respect LinkedIn and Google+ would appear to be the big winners as users aren't centred around specific demographics, whereas Facebook users can be.

    So two very interesting blog posts on how law firms should be using social media tools and the potential impact of social search on the marketing of law firm services. I would encourage anyone working in law firms to read these posts if they get the chance.

    SCL Event: Using social media

    Last night I was fortunate to be invited to attend an SCL organised event called "Use of social media for collaborating and sharing knowledge internally". The speaker (Euan Semple) was someone I've followed on Twitter for a while and who last year published a book called "Organisations don't tweet, people do" set out his stall by saying he had issues with a number of terms used in today's society.

    The first term he took umbrance with was "Social media". Euan described how people had been using the intranet for ages before "Social media" tools had come along. The fact that they're called social media tool doesn't help or hinder their use in fact if you asked most people using Facebook whether they thought they were using a social media tool they might raise an eyebrow or too. The second term Euan had an issue with was "Knowledge management" and some other "knowledge" terms like "Knowledge harvesting" and "Knowledge extraction" Euan likened these terms to individuals having their brains sucked out as they left an organisation.

    What Knowledge harvested might look like
    Euan then went on to describe the work he had done at the BBC, where he was employed at Head of Knowledge Management. Of most interest to attendees was his description of how he rolled out a very simple bulletin board to BBC staff. He described how he invited people who he know were interested in technology and had use something similar outside of the firewall to contribute to the bulletin board. In this way the bulletin board grew organically, with those individuals who were using it encouraging other individuals to use it, but without the hard sell that can discourage people. Euan then described how the bulletin board had gone a long way in helping create a feeling of a "OneBBC" Another project Euan undertook at the BBC was the creation of wiki spaces. Initially these were used to create guidelines for using and publishing content to external blogs.

    Before Euan described some of the tools he currently uses, he talked a little bit about building trusted networks and us all having responsibility when it comes to sharing content. I think this is especially important when using a tool like Twitter where it's very easy to retweet content. It's important to realise that we all have a volume control, we decide whether we're going to retweet or forward something, but it can be easy to forget this, especially when you're "in the moment"

    Euan then described some of the tools he is currently using. Interesting he indicated that blogging remained the tool he prefers to use, despite the death of blogging having been predicted for the last 5 years. His reasons were pretty clear, blogging belongs to an individual, it allows people to think in public and for him 3 or 4 paragraphs is optimal, compare to 140 characters in Twitter. Euan then described how he currently uses Twitter and how in particular he manages his followers so he has a core group of 100 individuals whose tweets he regularly reviews as they are they hunters and gatherers and always find good stuff. Euan also gave an example of how he used Twitter recently to fix a problem with an new piece of software he was using. Whilst the help manuals and online site were useless, Twitter provided an answer in a few minutes.

    At this point the tables has an opportunity to discuss some of the things Euan had talked about. On my table we talked a lot about blogging and the opportunities and some of the risk it offers law firms. I think there are a lot of opportunities for fee-earners and law firms to exploit blogging. Certainly one of the benefits is that it humanises law firms and provides individuals with a way to "chat" with fee-earners. The group also talked a little bit about LinkedIn and how it can be used by fee-earners.

    Following this discussion Euan looked at three companies that had used social media tools to encourage knowledge sharing internally. They were NYK who had created wiki spaces to discuss a flu pandemic policy and as a place for individuals to add suggestions instead of a suggestion box. Next up was BUPA who uses freely available tools on the web to share knowledge. This was primarily because they had a very fragmented IT Department. Finally Euan described how the CEO at Nokia used blogging to communicate with his colleagues.

    Euan finished his presentation with a few slides pointing out where you can go wrong with social media tools. One of the most relevant of these is that as someone using social media tools you have to be able to walk the talk and use the tools to be able to manage them. Euan also described how it was important to let people talk rubbish, if it mean they used the tools that had been provided for them. The last three points Euan made I'm sure will have struck a chord with many people, they were to:

    • Avoid being too trendy when it comes to social media. Just because there is a new tool on the block doesn't mean you have to use it
    • Having platforms where you can talk about issues and risks actually makes an organisation more secure
    • & finally you need to be in the long game, seeing real benefits from social media takes a long time and certainly cant be achieved overnight

    This was a really interesting seminar and I got a lot from it, which I hope to use when it comes to how my organisation uses social media.

    [Photo credit - Social media from Flickr]

    [Photo credit - Brains from Flickr]

    How is social media affecting law firms?

    My first post of 2013 and it's fitting that it's a post about social media and how it's affecting law firms. As it happens this is less about social media inside a law firm and more about how social media is affecting the activities of marketing departments and fee-earners outside the law firm.

    What I would say is that it's important for Knowledge & Information staff to be aware of the tools that fee-earners and marketing departments are using outside of the firm, because there are likely to be equivalents inside the law firm.

    The post from the Social Media for Law Firm blog looks at three areas in more detail. These are as follows:

    Content marketing/creation

    In this section, the author Samantha Collier looks at how more and more law firms are creating and encourgaing their fee-earners to publish content to external blogs. This content is also being pushed out to other sites including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. This allows fee-earners to demonstrate their knowledge to a much wider community without really having to do too much extra work.

    Humanising the law firm

    The next area Samatha looks at is how social media tools are helping to humanise law firms. I think this passage from the blog post, sums up nicely why more fee-earners should be using Twitter and other social media tools. "Twitter allows lawyers to interact much more than other forms of networking.  This puts a human face on law firms.  Potential clients can read lawyer Twitter feeds and get a feel for the character of that person"

    Optimising offline events

    The final area looked at by Samantha is the impact social media tools are having on conferences and networking events attended by fee-earners and law firms. Increasingly these events have Facebook and LinkedIn pages and Twitter hashtags. Fee-earners can review these pages to identify potential clients or individuals that they'd like to talk to. This makes the event even more valuable.

    As Samantha says in her final paragraph there are many ways in which social media affects law firm, but these are the most significant from her persepctive. What do you think?