"Which one of us asked for this?”
The comment left Jane’s team bewildered.
“What do you mean?” Alex asked patiently.
“But that’s how it’s always been.”
“Surely there’s an easier way to develop the great user experience we want for our Intranet?”
From behind Alex, Jane spots Sophie shaking her head. Her face is pained with the knowledge that she’s been there before.
“That’s what IT have provided, and that’s what we get. There’s no other Intranet software option.” Alex announced.
“Are you bloody kidding me?”
Jane’s comment rips the others and Sophie grins. She’s felt the same way for a long time and finally someone else has called it for what it is; the current Intranet is old, clunky and designed for engineers to manage.
“No, and I’m telling you for what it’s worth. You’ll have to ask IT if there are other Intranet software options we could be using.” Alex volunteers but knows his proposal is a useless platitude.
“I wouldn’t ask, because I did last year.” Sophie decides to speak up, as for the first time in a long time, this could be the moment where the business users mount a challenge with the IT department. But given her own experience, it’s going to take a group of them to fight for what’s right; that they are entitled to intuitive and easy to use Intranet Software that everyone can use to create great communication experiences.
“What happened when you asked?” Jane is excited at the prospect others feel the same way and that she’s not strange and weird for raising it.
“They said there was nothing else, and that SharePoint comes free with our 365 subscription.”
For a moment the comment cools the discussion. Hard to argue for something else, when what you’ve been given is free. But Jane sits there looking at the screen. The complexity of what she’s been grappling with all morning has taken her beyond frustration, and like anything else in the world, the statement of ‘you get what you pay for’ starts to roll over and over in her mind. She slams the desk. Derek who had been listening excitedly from another cubicle spills his coffee down his shirt at Jane’s outburst. She sees him.
“I’m sorry.” She offers.
“That’s ok. I’d take my shirt off and run around naked if I didn’t have to use SharePoint ever again.”
The group giggles at his statement but then Sophie stands in a sign of solidarity.
“If you want to go to IT, then I will go with you.” It’s like a scene from Braveheart.
The others stop and look at her. This is the moment where it could change. When the marketing and operations team realize there may be enough of them to defeat the ‘free’ argument and fight for the opportunity to pay for something that was really great.
“So when are you going?” Alex is keen to see this progress, because he is through himself waiting on IT to build him the forms and workflows he asked for back in April.
“Why not right now?” Jane stands with a stapler in one hand.
“I’ll come.” Derek announces with conviction.
“I mean, I need to get a new mouse so I’ll come with you down to IT.”
“That’s three of us. Who else?” Jane scans the room looking for more troops.
“Count me in.” Alex is onboard.
The four of them have come together in the middle of the office. Derek dabbing his coffee soaked shirt with sheets of printer paper.
“People. This is it. If we don’t do this now, then it will never happen. Here’s your chance to get something better for team communication. Intranet software that allow us to do amazing things for ourselves.”
Slowly but surely, others begin to stand. The four of them watch as Jane’s speech is a clarion call for user experience justice. Before them, there are fifteen other people all standing and looking at the brave few who started this campaign. Jane looks at Sophie and she nods for her to lead them down to level three, where IT will be ready and waiting with their weapons of excuse. Sophie picks up a document from her table.
“I’ll bring this as back up.”
“What is it?”
“A pricing document for a new Intranet.”
“Nice.” Alex is impressed that Sophie has ammunition.
“How much is it?” Julie is new to the team and has only been three weeks in the role, but every day she’s thought the same thing while sitting at her desk; this Intranet sucks.
“For a team our size, it’s ten thousand dollars a year.”
“Is that a lot?”
“No. That's very affordable. The company I use to work at spent five times that on improving their SharePoint. It still sucked.” Julie speaks up again.
“I’ve also done a trial." Sophie reveals.
“What? You mean you tried a new Intranet without our IT team being involved?”
“Sure did. It was easy. I just signed up and it gave me full access to a free trial."
“Does it give us what we want?"
“Everything. And more.”
“So what happened?”
“That’s when I went to IT and they said it wasn’t something the company would agree to spend.”
“Well let's see what they say to all of us demanding change. Are we ready?” Jane challenges the whole floor to join them.
Most of the heads in the office nod.
The floor is emptied as they storm the hallway and file down the stairwell. Jane stops at the door to the third floor. She turns and sees more than a dozen people crowded behind her, all eagerly waiting to see what unfolds.
“When we go through this door, there’s no turning back. We’re going to demand that they give us autonomy over our choice of Intranet software. Is everyone clear?”
The group gives her muddled agreement. Some people are nervous, while others have worked themselves into a rage for all the years that IT have declined their requests.
“On the count of three.”
And then a moment of silence descends upon them, as they stand united in the stairwell. Waiting to see what their fearless leader was prepared to do. And then the darkened stairwell is flooded with fluorescent lighting as the door opens and they file out into IT. As they march past cubicles towards the management offices, members of the IT team look up from their thirty inch screens. They’ve seen this before. Another department disillusioned by the software choices that they’ve made for others; without consultation, and without empathy. One of them opens up their Teams session and types a message to the Head of IT - "heads up, unhappy business users coming to you.”
Elizabeth the Head of IT views the Teams notification and looks up from her screen. She spots the angry mob marching towards her door and recognizes some of them are from Marketing. She has maybe ten seconds to prepare. She swings in her chair and opens the cabinet where she keeps dismissed proposals submitted from other departments. She opens the Marketing folder and peers inside. It contains an Intranet Software Pricing Proposal. She pulls it out and skims through the pages just as there is a knock on her door.
It opens and Jane leads the four of them inside, while the rest of the mob stand in the open area watching from a safe distance.
“We haven’t met, but I’m Jane. From Marketing.”
“I know who you are.” Elizabeth calmly responds.
“We wanted to talk about the Intranet.”
“Yes. I have this proposal.”
Sophie is floored they had kept the proposal she brought to them nearly a year ago.
“Great. And what do you think?”
Elizabeth sighs and closes the folder on her desk. She reclines into her chair and gazes out the window watching the trees sway in the breeze. They all wait patiently.
Some of them drop their shoulders as Elizabeth begins the inevitable rejection for their request.
“For some of my team, they’re going to have to accept that Marketing are going to do their own thing when it comes to our Intranet.”
“I’m sorry, what did you say?” Sophie is suddenly having kittens.
“I’m approving this Intranet software proposal.”
Jane’s lip begins to tremble and then a smile hijacks her face. She turns to the others and they’ve all heard the words. Some of them silently embrace and Sophie wipes a tear from her eye.
“You can let CentricMinds know that we’re proceeding with their proposal.”
“Yes!” Jane exclaims and they all leave IT, hoping they never need to return again.
Image by Andrea Piacquadio