In the world of digital workplaces, the relationship between internal communications and IT departments is crucial. When building a business case for implementing a new employee communications software, it is important that internal communications (IC) departments work closely with IT. This collaboration can go a long way in defining how IT, IC, and other lines of business could benefit from the new solution.
As employee communications is one of the most important drivers for employees’ engagement and job satisfaction, IC professionals are responsible for finding solutions that best fit employees’ workplace communication needs.
In this blog, we will cover the best practices for IC departments to get IT buy-in for implementing a new employee communications platform.
💡 Before we move forward, also check our ebook: 10 Principles of Modern Employee Communications.
The Relationship Between IT and IC
Historically, IT and IC departments didn’t have much interaction and they were viewed as two completely independent departments. However, this is not the case anymore.
Moreover, with the increase of complexity in organizational communication infrastructure, internal communications departments highly depend on their IT teams when it comes to building a communication ecosystem in which employees and other stakeholders can thrive.
On the other hand, IT departments make an important role in an organization’s digital and business transformation efforts.
Moreover, about 88% of IT leaders and 64% of Line of Business (LOB) staff view the role of the CIO as innovation-focused. LOB leaders consider IT a strategic advisor to both identify and implement new tech opportunities.
The success of these projects mainly depends on the effectiveness and impact of internal communications to drive stakeholders’ buy-in and achieve higher adoption rates for the new technology.
Hence, a good relationship between these two departments can go a long way in driving a bigger impact on organizational success and performance.
But are they working close enough? Do they understand each other? And how can IC departments better align with IT in order to get their buy-in for implementing new internal communications technology and bringing their organizations to the next level?
Getting IT Buy-In for Implementing a New Employee Communications Platform
Recently, we spoke with an IT leader with years of experience in building a sustainable organizational communication infrastructure with the help of IC departments.
However, building such relationships is not so easy to achieve. This is particularly evident in organizations where IT leaders may not be forward-thinking or if their role is not to be a strategic innovator but simply an enabler for other lines of business. Since this is not the case in most organizations today, building a business case for new technology, and getting your IT’s department buy-in, should not be a mission impossible.
Moreover, according to research, 39% of IT leaders aim to improve communication between leadership and employees in the next months.
However, you need to understand your IT people, their goals, their capacity, and their state of mind. If you both get on the same page about the benefits of implementing a new solution in your organization, they will be your biggest support in achieving that.
If you are an internal communications professional trying to bring in a new employee communications solution, we have a few important tips to share with you.
Drive collaboration early on in the process
Before you even start researching new vendors and putting together a strategy around bringing in a new employee communications solution, you should get together with your IT department.
Unfortunately, today, most departments still go to IT asking to support them in implementing a new solution. In order to get the most out of your new investment, it is crucial to involve the IT experts early on in the process.
Your IT department’s knowledge about how workplace technology works is extremely valuable. They will identify technological prerequisites necessary for a solution to fit your existing tech stack, make better use of data, and make your organization’s information architecture sustainable.
IT should also know if the solution of your choice deeply integrates with existing systems and security frameworks. Therefore, they will have a better understanding around the solution’s flexibility to address various business units and reduce complexity by consolidating, or eliminating, other solutions.
Understand the current state of your communication infrastructure
As an IC professional, you may not have a clear understanding of your company’s current communication infrastructure and what it takes to bring it to the next level. And that is completely understandable!
However, it is important that you openly communicate with your information technology experts to better understand the benefits, downsides, and bottlenecks of the current systems and identify the possible tech gaps. Spend some time to understand what’s driving IT and how their success is measured.
For example, in terms of how COVID-19 will affect IT priorities, the focus is shifting towards enabling remote work. Moreover, 26% of IT leaders say that they will spend more on technologies that enable employees to work from home. This is important for IC professionals to know when building a business case with IT.
If you manage to collaborate with IT early on, the process of identifying the benefits of a new solution becomes much easier, the entire procurement process becomes more holistic, and the integration becomes a joint responsibility.
Moreover, the simplification and switching off older systems become a company-wide activity because of its financial impact and the impact on people-related challenges every employer faces today.
By taking the time to better understand the state of your organization's infrastructure, you can properly align your tech needs with your business strategy so you can enhance productivity across the board.
Communicate the benefits of the new solution for IT
Building a sustainable information architecture in an organization is one of the main goals for every IT department. If a solution that you are looking to implement can enable them to improve the current processes, your job in getting their buy-in will be much easier.
It is important that you keep in mind what’s important to both IT and the business as a whole. Understand your IT people’s pain points and address them when building your business case with them!
Based on our experience working with IT professionals, we have already identified some of the main prerequisites they expect from new technology:
- Security - does the software hold the highest security standards such as ISO certifications? Know that security and data privacy is one of the main priorities for every IT leader.
- Compatibility - is the solution compatible with the current tech stack and can it be easily integrated? Does it integrate with existing communication channels, HRIS systems, and other existing solutions? It’s important that the new system doesn’t only work, but that it is fully used and that integrates with other systems your organization has in place.
- Better use of data - does the integration enable for a better use of employee data, people analytics and, therefore, offers valuable insights for improvement? Will the old data be lost? When different solutions “talk” well to each other, the use of valuable data is priceless.
- Seamless implementation - is the employee communications software easy to implement? Remember that software implementation, particularly in large enterprises, can take months, and even years. Spare your IT people this trouble!
- Simplification of the current systems - will the solution simplify the current system and make the current processes more streamlined? Tech people are often overburdened with maintaining so many different systems. So make a plan for simplification, not just another addition.
Address the importance of scalability and flexibility
For IT departments, it is important that the new workplace technology is scalable. Inflexible systems are usually unequipped to support business growth as it continues to evolve.
This type of issue is particularly common in large and rapidly growing organizations.
Therefore, your IT department will care about the platform’s ability to support the company’s growth.
Furthermore, the technology used in the workplaces is supposed to support the way your people like and prefer to work. They shouldn't have to significantly change their workflows to make up for the limitations inherent in the technology.
Here, flexible technology that can map your existing internal processes is your best bet!
Communicate the benefits of the new solution for your business
Passionate, ambitious, and forward-thinking IT people will not care only about the benefits the new solution may bring to them. Instead, they will want to know about the advantages of this solution for all the stakeholders in the organization, including employees, managers, C-level executives, partners, and others.
According to Gartner, only 35% of strategists said they felt confident about which investments and initiatives were needed to drive their future business model, while only 20% said they had clarity on how those changes would positively impact their organizations. This is your opportunity to shine!
Even though, as an internal communications professional, you already know the impact of employee communications on the overall business performance, organizational alignment, employee safety, productivity, and motivation, it is important to communicate it clearly.
Besides that, it is crucial that you point out the benefits of integrating various communication channels into a single platform. The way we enable multigenerational workforce to absorb information should change. Communication needs to be instant, but it needs to be available for absorption at a continuous base. For that, integration and compatibility of various systems are critical.
We’re way past the point where employees’ personal tech got slicker, faster, and more entertaining than the kit they use at work. People expect systems to work seamlessly today; to be easy to use and to be integrated.
Find and present an existing business case
Presenting an existing business case can go a long way in getting the IT’s and other stakeholders’ buy-in.
The easiest way to go through this step is to ask the vendor of your choice for a reference. Then, connect with that organization’s IC and IT professionals who led the implementation of the employee communications platform.
Use this conversation to understand how the implementation works and to prove your business case.
Ask for help from the vendor
Partner with the chosen vendor to build a business case for the new employee communications platform. Every serious vendor should have a team of experts, consultants, and a portfolio of existing clients’ success stories to help you get internal buy-in.
If you know that you will need help “selling” your idea internally, ask the vendor to provide you with a set of materials and existing case studies that clearly explain the benefits of the new employee app for IT and other LOBs.
Present how you will drive adoption of the new tool
A survey by Nominet reveals that 93% of CIOs and CTOs believe that “their organization was either currently engaged in, or planning to engage in, a digital transformation program,” with only 6% of businesses claiming to have completed their transformation.
One of the most common reasons for digital transformation failure is poor internal communications. Therefore, before you get the final buy-in, you may be asked to present a rollout plan containing all the necessary steps to drive the adoption of the new technology.
As an internal communications professional, this should be a piece of cake for you!
Managing and mitigating employees’ resistance to change is crucial for driving user adoption. When building your internal communications and marketing plan, make sure that you answer these questions:
- What does the change entail?
- Why is the change happening?
- When is the change happening?
- How will the change impact both individuals and the organization as a whole?
The Emerging Need for Integrated Workplace Technology
According to a Harvard Business Review Analytic Services survey of 677 executives, the overwhelming majority—86%—believe that technology has a greater impact on employee engagement.
The ability to quickly share data between multiple different departments and devices is fundamental to establishing a digital, engaged, and productive workplace. However, when information exists in multiple different systems, there is a greater risk of discrepancies, which can lead to unnecessary repeat work or tasks falling through the cracks.
Therefore, one of the main priorities for both IC and IT departments has become to find solutions that enable data sharing between the platforms and gives members of each team instant access to this information in one interface.
IT leaders are now considered as orchestrators of cloud ecosystems in a multi-cloud reality which all need to be connected with a focus on speed, agility, and the business results.
Furthermore, IT must balance the compliance and security needs of the organization with the wants and desires of end users.
Let Us Help You Build a Business Case
If you are looking to implement a new employee communications platform in your organization, we can help you build a business case with your IT department.
Smarp is a flexible, scalable, secure, and reliable employee communications platform that integrates with various internal communications channels like SharePoint, Teams, Slack, Yammer, Workplace by Facebook, email or any other digital channel. These integrations ensure that you deliver targeted communications to every employee in their preferred channels and devices, all from a single location. At the same time, integrations with HR tools like Oracle and Azure simplify employee onboarding and user management.
Schedule a Smarp demo to see how it can help you and your IT department build a sustainable information architecture, streamline workplace communication, improve collaboration and employee productivity while delivering seamless digital employee experience.