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Originally posted on IC Kollectif, by Guest Blogger, Ciara O’Keeffe

You have decided that you want an internal communications app. You believe that it is a great idea. Your team thinks it is a great idea. Even some of your employees are asking for an app. Nothing is stopping you, except that you need to convince your CEO to give you the budget.

How can you convince them that it is a critical addition to your communications channels and that it will add value? How can you concisely pitch the idea, while capturing the importance but also speaking their language?

Having pitched the idea to many CEOs and senior leaders, I have experienced first-hand what works and what does not. Here are some of my pointers as to how to pitch an internal communications app to your CEO.

Why you need it

An absolute must in the first few moments is to clearly articulate where the current gap is in communicating and why this is the best solution to fill that gap. Provide an example, such as reaching non-desk employees without access to a company computer or even a company email account.

Clearly show, via a visual representation as to where the app will fit into the channel mix. Explain the difference between the app and any existing intranet/ESN. Even though this may be very clear to you, it will be one of the first questions on their mind.  

How it will add business value

Quite often this part gets left out of the pitch, without it you will not get approval. If you think you cannot prove business value, think again.

You want this app because you know it will add value to how you communicate to your employees and how they will communicate with each other. Pick your top five value-adds with the app and link them to business value. Some exemples:

  1. Increase customer satisfaction: Hearing from frontline employees will mean that customer feedback can be acted upon quicker.

  2. Enable real-time communications during a crisis or a change programme: Reduce employee time wasted searching for information or worrying about possible impact.

  3. Reach all areas of the organisation to tap into new sources of innovation: New product ideas, improve existing processes.

  4. Improve intra-company collaboration and best-practice sharing: An app can cross many boundaries as employees can access it anytime, anywhere. Employees are more likely to use it for quick updates and sharing ideas as it is with them wherever they are.

  5. Improve engagement: Through all the above points. Your audience will expect to hear employee engagement mentioned before now but rather than just mentioning it, you have brought it alive for them in a business-value sense. 

How it will support the business strategy

You may think that this has been covered in the previous point but relating the app back to the company strategic principles will garner further support from your senior stakeholders. This also shows that you are thinking about the channel strategically.

Choose three areas of strategic business importance where you believe the app can have the most impact or provide the most support. Include examples of what you would expect to happen once the app is live vs. the current channels offerings.

For example, reducing lost time accidents through better access to health and safety information. Currently, the company’s communication channels work well for all desk-based employees. However, it is the non-desk employees, manufacturing, distribution, field, who are most at risk. They have intermittent access to a shared kiosk to access updates or rely on their manager to brief them.

Using the app, the company can provide short video updates or documentation and require employees to acknowledge receipt of the updates as well as confirm when they have watched/read them. You can also create a survey on what they found helpful or not, and create a quiz to test their knowledge of the new information.

Bring it to life

Using only words to explain how the app may work, will not work for your CEO. You need a short show and tell. You can ask a supplier to provide you with a demo app, using your company branding and relevant dummy content. If this is not possible, ask them for some example screenshots.

Walk your CEO through the user experience and explain how easy, hopefully, it is to use. If you can explain how a peer or competitor is using a similar app this is sure to grab their attention. CEOs have very competitive with their peers. Highlight some of the features you wish to include in the app and explain how they help deliver on some of your earlier strategic points.

Cover the cost

You know they are going to be thinking this throughout your pitch, so before you finish make sure to talk about resource before they need to ask the question.

Do not just cover the cost of the software. Prepare an example timeline for the project, the supplier will be able to help you with this. Highlight what resource will be required at each key stage of the project and then what resource will be required once you get to the business as usual stage.

Detail any of the costs that can be considered as CAPEX. This will be good news for your longer-term budget. Another great point to consider would be, will the app reduce any existing costs once it has been implemented? For example, are you currently spending a portion of your budget on printing surveys or newsletters, which could be replaced by the app? Maybe you rely on agency support because of the manual nature of the non-desk communications processes, which could be reduced. If so, then you can offset some of the cost of the app with these savings. The more savings you can talk through the more likely your CEO will approve your request.

Ciara O'Keeffe
Digital Communications Leader, Speaker, Author and Judge with global experience in enterprise social, specialising in mobile, with a degree in European Business Management with Languages.
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