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The days of having an intranet just because, well, it's a good idea--are over.

As a manager, you need to deliver hard data that justifies investment in your intranet. You need to show that a dollar spent on your intranet will deliver more value that a dollar spent elsewhere. Otherwise, your budget will shrink.

When should you choose your intranet as compared with other forms of communication (verbal, print)?

1) When you need to get information quickly and cost effectively to a large number of people who are geographically dispersed.

2) When you require a consistent, trustworthy message to be communicated.

3) When your knowledge is changing rapidly.

4) When you can use your intranet to effectively automate processes.

Quick and Cost-Effective

An expert communicates well to a small number of people. Print content does not have the same personal touch. However, it can communicate to a lot more people, a lot more quickly.

Your intranet can inform a large number of people more quickly than verbal or print communication. For a large organization, an intranet can be a more cost effective way to communicate. Verbal communication is slow and expensive. Print content has a relatively high fixed cost per copy.

The cost-per-view of a particular piece of intranet content is negligible. In other words, reaching 10,000 people is not all that more expensive than reaching 5,000. Thus, for reaching large numbers of people, the intranet is a cost effective medium.

Consistent, Trusted Information

So much information is swirling around your organization. How do people know which is the right stuff? Your intranet can become the trusted source for the latest, most accurate, and most logically explained information on your products, processes and strategies.

Consistently Up-to-Date

The business world is changing rapidly. This means that the knowledge you require to operate efficiently changes too. This is a major drawback of print content. It goes out-of-date. Intranet content, on the other hand, can be quickly updated to reflect new knowledge.

Effective Automation

There are many cumbersome and inefficient processes within organizations. For example, how much does it cost you every time a member of staff wants to change their home address in the HR database? What is the annual cost for this?

Supposing your intranet allows people to access and update their personal information in a self-service manner. Wouldn't this increase efficiency and reduce costs?

Justifying Investment

There are two basic ways you can justify investment in your intranet:

1) Show how it has created new value by expanding your ability to communicate.

2) Show how it has increased productivity and reduced costs when compared with other forms of communication.

To show that your intranet has created new value, you need to establish measures of how you presently communicate internally. You need to answer the question: Are staff satisfied that they are getting the information they need to do their jobs well?

You can get hard financial data by comparing the cost of your traditional communication processes (print, personal) with replacement intranet processes.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Gerry McGovern
Gerry McGovern (gerry@gerrymcgovern.com) is a content management consultant and author. His latest book is The Stranger's Long Neck: How to Deliver What Your Customers Really Want Online, which teaches unique techniques for identifying and measuring the performance of customers' top tasks.