By Ciara O’Keeffe, VP of Customer Experience

In the last few years, internal comms technology has taken off — more companies are investing in it and there are more channels than ever…but that can sometimes lead to more confusion. You know you need a change, and you want to adopt the latest tech. But unless you think through that technology and understand the use-case at your organization, whatever channel you adopt might not stick. This is why it’s key to create your business plan for a new channel before making the case to leadership.

Building the Foundation For Your Case

In my career, I’ve spoken with many comms pros who are excited about launching an app at their organization, but they haven’t taken the time to clearly define their use case. Others know they need to take their comms mobile but aren’t sure how it will contribute to the overarching business goals of the organization. 

So, how do you start making the business case for a new channel? I recommend doing a channel assessment. Start by mapping out the top ten use cases for your existing communications channels (e.g. an Intranet) based on user-feedback and analytics. Then explain how users would use a mobile app and the benefits of that platform versus your other channels. A mobile app isn’t necessarily a substitute for your existing channels, which is why it’s key to consider how existing channels can be supported and enhanced by an app.

And when looking at your existing channels, it’s key to assess who has access to each channel? Non-desk employees typically don’t have access to your Intranet or a company email address. And we know that these employees want their voices to be heard, they want to be able to give feedback and make an impact, so introducing a channel that allows bi-directional and peer-to-peer communications will do wonders for their engagement levels. 

After your channel assessment, consider the following questions:

  • What need(s) will this app help address?
  • What challenge(s) will this app help solve?
  • What does success look like?
  • How will I measure success?
  • Will the business benefits be a viable trade-off for the resources required?
  • Will I be targeting a particular group of employees?
  • Will I have executive sponsorship for the app?
  • How will I encourage leaders to actively use it?

Building the Business Case: Process, Impact, Outcome (PIO)

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the vast array of methodologies out there that claim to help you build a strategy or business case. From my experience, it shouldn’t be complicated. A simple but effective way to build a business case is to use the PIO method:

  • Process: what process are you trying to improve?
  • Impact: what is the desired impact of using this tool?
  • Outcome: what is the positive business outcome linked to this tool?

Here’s an example of how to use the PIO method to build your case for an internal comms app: 

  • Process: Improve the speed of employee feedback from those based in customer-facing roles.
  • Impact: With current channels it takes three days and the input of seven people to gather feedback from employees based in retail stores, field-sales, and frontline engineering teams. We want to reduce the time taken and number of people involved within one month of launch.
  • Outcome: Using this tool, the targeted group of employees can submit rich feedback directly into their smartphone, which is received instantly by the team at HQ. The number of people required to run this process has been reduced to two, and the time taken to receive the feedback is now instantaneous, which saves the company money.

Proving ROI

Communicators are under ever-increasing pressure to provide a return on investment (ROI) for new initiatives. I regularly hear the word ‘elusive’ used in the same sentence as ROI and enterprise technology. This doesn’t have to be the case with an employee app. Using the above example, you can calculate cost and time savings as well as the impact on customer satisfaction scores.  

Calculating Cost Savings: You’ve managed to reduce the number of people required in the original process by five. To calculate the ROI of this, determine how many hours a week the feedback gathering process took each employee. Use this number and the average hourly salary in your company and multiply it by the number of hours it took, and then multiply that by the number of employees no longer spending time on that project. Ex: $20/hour x 2 hours of work x 5 employees = $200/week saved x 52 weeks = $10,400 in savings.  

Calculate Time Saved: As part of calculating the money saved by streamlining the employee feedback process, you calculate that five employees now have two hours a week back to commit to other projects and work. You can also measure the customer service team’s resolution time before and after launching the app to determine how much time the app has saved this team.

Determine Improved Customer Satisfaction: To quantify this, I recommend looking at your customer satisfaction scores before implementing the app and then compare the results in monthly increments after you launch your app. If they have improved, you can attribute them to the improved speed in submitting feedback. 

Bringing a clearly-considered and business-outcome related proposal to leadership will be a far more effective route to ensuring you not only get sign-off but also support.

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