Tags: benefit, beta testing, intranet, money, strategy, user testing, value
I recently discussed this subject with some intranet practitioners in Copenhagen at an IntraTeam community of practice meeting. Several people there had yet to experience the excitement of knowing a business case had been approved or the disappointment of one being rejected.
I know how both of these experiences feel from first-hand experience when I was the BT intranet manager! It was the frustration rather than the disappointment with the rejection of a business case that has stayed with me longer. Frustration because I couldn’t get the people deciding to ‘get it’ and realise how much it would improve the intranet, the experience of people using it, and the business overall that I felt so passionately about.
How to succeed
You need to ask yourself if a business case is needed at all. Maybe by using open source technology there will be no costs that need you to ask for funding? Maybe you do need to later when you have something more convincing, more persuasive even more tangible, in the benefits you can demonstrate have been achieved by what you are doing.
Tip 1: Pick your timing to give yourself the best chance.
You need sponsors, preferably senior sponsors, better still the CEO as your sponsor. The more strategic and senior the level of support gained by you in your organisation, the better your chances of success and your efforts and time to achieve it will be rewarded.
Tip 2: Build up your relationship with your stakeholders.
You need to be complete in your business case. That means include all the costs – technology, licences, support, training, and implementation. But don’t forget all the savings – paper, accommodation, time, benefits – productivity, better decision making, risks avoided to brand, and reputation. There could also be revenue generated from extra sales because what you offer could mean more time and ability to compete than before for new business.
Tip 3: Don’t leave off something which could come back to bite you and affect your credibility with future business cases.
You need to consider the wider context for your business case. Is your organisation looking to expand or is it just trying to survive? What is your organisation’s strategy? Is your intranet strategy in line with it? Is your business case connected to your strategy (make sure it is!)? You need to align what you will achieve with the organisation’s values – teamwork, openness = collaboration tools.
Tip 4: Choose your agenda and use the language your audience will recognise.
You need to make your business case as compelling as possible. That means showing as many savings – money not leaving the organisation – and income – extra money coming in – that can justify. While there will be many benefits from productivity and reduced risks, it is the bottom line that will be the main focus and the hardest to achieve.
Tip 5: Focus on the savings and benefits which are most important to your organisation.
Lastly don’t forget to use every weapon in your artillery to help convince your sponsors of what your proposal will achieve. In addition to the five tips you can highlight how it fits with the organisations’ values, the downside of not approving the business case and risks being taken by that decision.
Good luck, be passionate about your business case. GO FOR IT AND WIN!
Tags: benchmark, best practice, beta testing, bt intranet, feedback, research, user testing, users
I regularly ask users what they feel about BT’s intranet. I use a variety of methods to do this.
1. Survey - I ask each year questions to compare with previous years for trends as well as new areas to focus on.
2. Beta testing - I ask for people to test out new features to make sure it meets their needs or improve further so it does before launching.
3. Feedback – every page has a feedback link for anyone to ask for more information or raise a concern.
Find out more in Intranet Ideas article ‘Conducting an Intranet Performance Review’ which has comments from me and other intranet professionals.
Tags: 2012 Challenge, beta testing, bt intranet, homepage, user testing
While some users when asked for their views wondered what all the fuss was about for the small changes proposed, most appreciated being given the chance to give their views and liked the changes.
I have greater confidence that I’ve made changes which users want and need to give them an even easier way to find what they need for their work.
A lesson I have learned is to try to make changes small rather than keep them back until a major change is needed. It avoids users being disorientated with all the changes. Of course keeping the number of times changes are needed to a minimum helps too.
Testing with users involves them more and suggestions made will help me make further small changes in 2010.
Tags: bt intranet, governance, user testing, beta testing, usability, oracle, usability standards, intranet applications
When I asked Oracle, can you improve your poor usability please? I was really pleased to see how widely my views were shared. I’m not alone! It has led to Oracle re-engaging with Janus Boye (read his blog post on Oracle) and me. There is no guarantee this will lead to anything so how can we improve the usability of Oracle and other software applications?
Well, I can think of the following ways we can try:
Helping make the decisions
We need to make sure we are as closely involved as possible when our organisations decide on buying or developing a business application. It’s much harder to get a decision changed after it has been made. We also need to make sure the full costs are understood. By this I mean the productivity costs of training, helpdesk support and extra time taken using the application.
Usability standards being implemented
Embed usability standards into any procurement or development process for technology. This means any technology your organisation buys or develops has to meet these standards as well as any other technical, security or other criteria. You can be the contact point for any queries about your standards and get involved.
BT uses these usability standards for this purpose.
Proof of concept
Test out if possible the technology before it is fully developed or bought based on user needs to see what our the usability issues and how easy and costly they will be to solve. I do this with user stories which explain the business need, activity to be tested and outcome needed for it to have been met successfully.
Get your vendor to commit to what you need them to do with timescales you both agree to. Make sure it is binding in any contract and a review does take place to check every improvement agreed has been done to the usability standard expected. (My thanks to Christophen McCann)
I will keep you updated on progress with Oracle on my blog or Twitter.