How to Get Executive Buy-In to Expand Your Knowledge Engagement Community

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    You’re starting to see results and positive ROI from your knowledge engagement platform. Maybe your team members reduced the time they spend searching for information every day by half an hour, or you’ve seen a significant decrease in internal emails and phone calls now that everyone has one place to go to find departmental knowledge. 

    Based on your department’s success, you believe that other departments could benefit from using your knowledge engagement platform—maybe you’ve even been getting questions from co-workers who would like to try the platform out.

    But how do you convince senior leadership to invest in an expansion of your knowledge engagement community?

    Point to Your Successes

    Since you’ve already launched a knowledge engagement platform, you should have evidence of the benefits. When trying to get executive buy-in for an expansion, highlight your key success metrics. For example, a customer support team might be able to show that their reps are resolving questions on calls an average of 20 seconds faster with access to your knowledge engagement platform.

    Tie your metrics back to clear benefits that will resonate with your executives. In the example above, the customer support team could make the case that by allowing reps to answer questions faster, the knowledge engagement platform has increased efficiency and improved customer satisfaction.

    In addition to sharing your successes, you should also demonstrate what you’ve learned from your pilot program with the knowledge engagement platform and how you will apply those lessons when rolling out the platform to the rest of the company. This will show that you’ve thought about how to optimize the platform and its launch so that users will be as successful as possible.

    Calculate and Share ROI

    If you’re going to earn buy-in from senior leadership, you need to speak their language and remember most decisions come down to one single point of data: return on investment (ROI). While highlighting process improvements, efficiencies, and other benefits helps make your case, it’s even more powerful when you can show these improvements with hard numbers and translate those numbers to dollars. And, if you can tie these numbers to specific organizational goals, that’s even better. 

    Here are a few examples of ways to calculate the ROI of your knowledge engagement platform:

    Productivity Improvements

    Sometimes simply calculating revenue doesn’t offer an accurate depiction of your knowledge engagement platform’s performance—especially because many other factors can impact revenue. Instead, start by measuring metrics directly tied to platform usage.

    Let’s look at the example of knowledge engagement ROI for a contact center. If the contact center has experienced a faster time to resolution (TTR) since implementing their knowledge engagement platform, they can compare their existing TTR month-over-month and year-over-year to get an accurate idea of just how much it’s improved. They may also consider whether call times have shortened and thus allowed the team to handle a larger volume.

    More generally, any department could measure the average amount of time their team members spend looking for information before and after implementing a knowledge engagement platform. Time saved can be estimated based on employee surveys.

    With this information, you can calculate savings in terms of labor hours. With the reduction in time it takes to find information, is your department able to take on more work with the same headcount? This is the kind of data your senior executives want to see.

    Onboarding Improvements

    Onboarding is an expensive but necessary endeavor. Not only do you need to educate new employees on internal processes, but you also need to ensure they’ve developed reliable expertise about your product or service, especially if they are in a customer-facing role. Any way to shorten the timeline is a welcome improvement, and it’s easy to tie this directly to cost savings.

    After implementing a knowledge engagement platform, employees can access training materials and other documentation in one place, whenever they need this information. This means you can transition them from training to working independently in less time, which can save the company a significant chunk of money.

    Employee Engagement

    The average U.S. company spends about $4,000 and 52 days to fill an open position, according to data from Glassdoor. Depending on the skills and experience required, it can cost even more and take even longer. This goes without saying, but it’s a lot less expensive to keep the employees you already have.

    While some percentage of turnover is out of your control (like when employees seek opportunities for growth outside your organization), reducing turnover due to poor engagement and low job satisfaction is crucial and mostly within your control.

    Implementing a knowledge engagement platform helps enable autonomy and instills confidence, boosting employee engagement and happiness at work. Not only does this drive revenue (highly engaged teams experience 12 percent greater profitability, according to data from Gallup), it also reduces the risk of people leaving your company. Using the average reported by Glassdoor, retaining just 25 more employees year-over-year yields six-figure savings.

    Highlight Your Vendor’s Similar Use Cases

    While sharing your team’s successes with your knowledge sharing platform can be powerful, some stakeholders may still be hesitant about expanding the platform for a different use case. For example, they might wonder how a platform that the customer support team has used to reduce their average call time could benefit the sales, product, or marketing teams.

    To show your stakeholders how the platform works across different use cases, share relevant case studies from your vendor. If, for example, you’ve proposed expanding the platform to your marketing and sales teams, look for case studies that demonstrate how the platform helps these two teams close communication gaps. If you’re trying to get executive buy-in to expand the platform company-wide, look for case studies from customers in the same industry who use the platform across their organization.

    Your vendor will likely have case studies on their website, but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, try reaching out to them to see if they have any resources they can share. Your vendor may even offer to connect you with another customer who can speak to the benefits they’ve experienced from the platform.

    Share Testimonials from Platform Users

    If your team members completed pre- and post-launch surveys for your knowledge engagement platform, the results can make a compelling case for a platform expansion (especially if they show increases in productivity, efficiency, or job satisfaction). But the data from your surveys will be even more impactful if you can back it up with testimonials from team members who have been using the knowledge engagement platform.

    When presenting your case to your executives, share quotes from end users about how the knowledge engagement platform has changed the way they work. If you really want to make sure your message sticks with your executives, consider having several end users record short video testimonials. Video captures facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice, which can make the message your end users are sharing more powerful and memorable. 

    Sharing end user testimonials along with your success metrics will help you present your case in the form of a story. And research shows that using a story format in your presentation helps your audience retain information (especially numbers). One study from Stanford University found that combining statistics and storytelling results in a 65-70 percent retention rate.

    Offer To Do a Roadshow

    You’ll strengthen your case for a knowledge engagement platform expansion if you can show executives you have a plan for the rollout. Offer to do a roadshow and demo the platform to different departments ahead of the expansion. Explain to your executive team that doing a roadshow will allow you to:

    • Explain to each department how the knowledge engagement platform will benefit them
    • Demonstrate how the platform can fit into (and enhance) existing processes
    • Prepare departments for the upcoming rollout
    • Get feedback from team members
    • Use that feedback to optimize the knowledge engagement platform structure

    Demoing the knowledge engagement platform will help get departments bought into the new solution ahead of the expansion—and that should help quell any concerns your executive team might have about platform adoption. 

    Anticipate Objections and Offer Solutions

    Sales leaders often recommend bringing up objections before your prospects. Even if you’ve never worked in sales, this is a strategy you can tap into when meeting with your executive team about a potential software expansion.

    As you prepare for your meeting, list out all the potential obstacles to expanding your knowledge engagement platform across different use cases and offer a solution for each one. For example, maybe your legal team needs a platform to share sensitive information that can’t go beyond their department. You could suggest giving the legal team their own community so that they can share sensitive content without publishing it to the entire organization.

    Since budget is a common source of objections, this is where it’s useful to use the ROI estimates we mentioned earlier. Being able to provide a realistic estimate of how much money your company will save by expanding the knowledge engagement platform will go a long way towards overcoming concerns about the upfront cost.

    Do Your Homework

    Taking your knowledge engagement platform company-wide can have major benefits, from increasing productivity to breaking down silos between departments. But because expanding the platform would potentially affect every part of your organization and require an upfront investment, it’s not a decision your executive team is likely to take lightly.

    Help your executive team make a well-informed decision by presenting them with a clear picture of the results you’ve seen in your department and a detailed plan for expansion. Be ready to field questions and address objections. If you can show you’ve done your research on your proposal, you’ll be able to make a strong case and get executive buy-in for a company-wide knowledge sharing community. 

    What It Looks Like in Action

    What does it look like when you expand your knowledge engagement platform? Here’s an example:

    HR management organization Insperity serves more than 100,000 businesses across the U.S. from more than 60 offices nationwide. With employees decentralized, the organization needed a reliable, secure, and flexible platform where team members could access and update company knowledge. In 2015, the company turned to Bloomfire to centralize knowledge for the sales team. And, after a successful rollout, the organization quickly realized the benefits could extend beyond the sales department.

    Divisional leaders made the case to senior decision-makers by citing the sales department’s success and highlighting inefficiencies caused by their in-house knowledge management system. After achieving buy-in from the executive team, Insperity’s services department launched their own Bloomfire instance. Then, department leaders tapped into a base of early adopters to champion and evangelize the solution across the organization.

    Today, they hold regular meetings with those champions to identify opportunities for improvement and quarterly business reviews with senior leaders to share results and demonstrate success.

    (You can learn more about Insperity’s experience here.)

    When you experience a knowledge engagement platform’s benefits every day, it’s easy to assume the results speak for themselves. But senior leaders aren’t always dialed into those day-to-day processes or what it looks like when you implement new efficiencies. That’s why it’s crucial you paint a full picture by highlighting use cases, sharing real data, breaking down ROI, demonstrating culture improvements, and sharing a proposal for replicating these benefits across the organization. While telling them about your successes is helpful, a compelling story is much more convincing.

    This post was originally published on January 23, 2019. It was most recently updated and expanded on December 21, 2020 to incorporate new information and best practices.

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