The Chicken or The Egg: Technology and the Business Outcome

Chicken or the Egg: which came first? This graphic was created by AI, showing a rooster hatching from an egg with a burst of light and lines representing a circuit board
Jay Leask Avatar

The Viva Underground is a response to the ever-present question “What Viva solution do we deploy first?” 

As you can see by reading Joy and Jay‘s perspectives on the Employee Experience, our approach to technology tends to take a more human-centric path. Collectively, we have spent too many years supporting failed SharePoint (and other software) implementations because those with the budget and keys to the kingdom defined the definition of success as “deployment” rather than “solve problem XYZ”. Similarly, you can imagine our path to Microsoft Viva doesn’t start with the question “which module should we deploy first?” 

Instead, we suggest two questions be the guide to selecting the right technology starting point: 

  1. What are the prioritized desired business outcomes that Viva can support? 
  2. What is the estimated cost of resolve those needs? 

By mixing these questions you can identify highest priorities, based on the expected impact of the business outcome, with a low cost to resolution and show the value of investing in the Employee Experience; the faster you show value the more trust you build to support more investment in longer-term solutions. 

The Viva Underground

The Viva Underground is a framework designed to support this process, organized into four primary categories. 

  • Desired Business Outcomes 
  • Stakeholders and responsibilities 
  • Technology  
  • Deployment Steps and challenges 

Using the visual likeness of a transit map, the Viva Underground guides you through the selection and deployment of technology based on desired business outcomes. Each stop on the Viva underground delivers at least one primary business outcome, such as Diversity and Inclusion or Skilling Up, and grouped with other stops that have thematically similar outcomes across the industry-based lines of the Viva Underground.  

Desired Business Outcomes 

Defining and understanding the desired business outcomes is not an easy challenge, especially for those with a technology-first mindset. And, frankly, it cannot be done within the silo of an Information Technology organization. Instead, you must engage stakeholders from across the business, from HR to Legal, from supporting units to business units, to identify the challenges they face.

Author’s Note: There's a right combination of stakeholders, but that's a conversation for a later date. The key here is that a diverse set of experiences and backgrounds will ensure a stronger understanding of what challenges should be solved, ensuring a stronger deployment and better success. 

With the challenges defined, there are a series of questions you must take in order to prioritize and eventually resolving each challenge: 

  • How does the business resolve or work around the challenge today? 
  • Who is affected by the challenge? 
  • What is the negative impact of leaving the challenge unresolved? 
  • What is the positive impact of resolving the challenge? 
  • What processes must be modified to support resolution to the challenge? 
  • What technology already owned may help resolve the challenge? What gaps does it leave? 

While this is not an exhaustive list, it should lay the groundwork to ensure you capture the needed information to prioritize your challenges and then begin to answer the question “What tool do we deploy”. 

If not IT, then who? 

Information Technology (IT) teams have been, for years, told to do more with less. I recall a meeting with a U.S. Federal agency who had admitted that, to accomplish this, had removed their Business Analysts in favor of having their technologists do both the business and technology roles. And after years, they finally saw that this did not give them the advantage they desired. 

IT is a service provider, their mission is that of organizational success. There is no silo in which IT defines organizational success. Or in which IT implements that success. It is not IT’s job to sell your organization’s wares, interact with John Q. Public, or define vacation and training programs. So why, then, would it be up to IT to define the Employee Experience and the tools required to support its positive momentum? 

Information Technology is a service provider, their mission is that of organizational success

If not IT, then who? Who does IT need to partner with? While Joy will dig more deeply into each of the use cases for Microsoft Viva and the various stakeholders, here’s a brief introduction as to WHY you need to partner outside of IT for the success of your business.  

Once you’ve engaged your stakeholders, you’ll need to create a strategy for engaging them. Not only how to engage with them, but what their roles and responsibilities are in this journey. This complicated balance will be discussed in a later article, but keep in mind the concept of a RACI chart as you read these suggested roles: Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. The Stop Guides within the Viva Underground will help guide you through engaging with your stakeholders, knowing who is key to the success of each stop, and what level of engagement they will support. 

The Employees 

If we’re deploying solutions regarding the Employee Experience, then engaging the Employees could not be more important. There will be SPECIFIC stakeholder groups you should engage with; however, the employee is who you absolutely must engage with to learn what is stopping them from meeting organizational success! As you work with each group listed below, make sure you include REPRESENTATIVE stakeholders from all aspects of your organization, be it through communities, surveys, working groups, or one-off focus groups. Just make it formal. Make it bi-directional. And help them feel like they’re making a difference. 

Human Resources 

One of HR’s typical primary jobs is to have a pulse on the employee experience – even if they don’t call it that. Benefits administration. Pay. Vacations. Corporate Policy. These functions, and more, all flow through HR, suggesting that HR may know how people feel about them. They may even have mechanisms in place that IT can take advantage of to begin that employee engagement I described above. 


Often part of HR, Communications is your partner in executing communications with employees. And like HR, they already have technology in place to communicate with the employees. If your organization is big enough to have a communications team, you’re probably already partnered with them, too! Why? The intranet, for one. Communities of Interest. Even how the C-Suite interacts with employees. 

The C-Suite 

Speaking of the C-Suite, they are last on my list of primary contributors to your stakeholder group, but certainly not least. They literally define (or at least approve of) the organizational mission. They decide the priorities, strategies, and often execution for organizational success. Including the C-Suite as a stakeholder not only gives you top-down coverage for “why are we changing XYZ” but they help you ensure the definition of success is relevant and drives the impact they desire. 


Remember the question that started all of this: what Viva solution do I deploy first? Well, more than halfway through the framework of the Viva Underground we finally address it directly. You’ve figured out WHAT the desired outcomes are. You’ve confirmed their importance, their impact. You’ve prioritized them. And you’ve selected what you’re trying to solve. With this, the Viva Underground finally addresses what technology to deploy by defining both the Microsoft Viva modules and other soultions support those desired outcomes. 

The caution in the Viva Underground, however, is that it’s not just about Microsoft Viva. Yes, of course, if you’re trying to strengthen employee/employer bonds, Viva Engage is an amazing way to literally build communities and Viva Connections is THE WAY to bring the intranet to where your employees work. But what about the intranet itself? SharePoint Online is where’ it’s built. And you probably need to connect your Employee Resource Planning platform or your Customer Relationship Management platform. Your task management. Your billing or expense systems. These all connect into your Employee Experience capabilities, and should absolutely be considered, depending on which business outcomes you are attempting to improve. 

In the Viva Underground framework, with your desired business outcomes defined, you can easily connect the network of technical solutions you have to create positive business outcomes, and you can do so with success criteria and a method to measure that success in mind. 

Deployment Steps and Challenges 

With your outcomes selected and your technology options aligned, it’s time to deploy. The Stop Guides will provide suggested order of operations for deployment, prerequisites that may exist, and descriptions of challenges and risks you may expect to come across – and ideas for how to mitigate them. 

If you want that Intranet in Teams, you need to deploy Viva Connections, but first you need to setup a Communications site in SharePoint Online as your Home Site. If you want your Learning Management System to display what classes users need to take in their Viva Connections dashboard, you need an Adaptive Card that has a connection to the LMS.  

The Viva Underground: Your Framework for Microsoft Viva 

The Viva Underground provides a framework to navigate the technology of the Employee Experience by ensuring you focus on the needs of those employees by showing you how to focus on these key questions: 

What impact are you trying to have on your business? Don’t simply have have a tool to deploy but a desired business outcome to prioritize, guide, and validate your solutions.  

Who is your partner? Partners across your organization will help document and prioritze the desired business outcome you seek to achieve and then validate that those solutions meet the ever-changing business landscape as you deploy them.  

What and Where is your solution? Avoid the tunnel vision and look across not only Microsoft Viva but your entire technology landscape to meet the needs of your organization. 

Jay Leask Avatar

One response to “The Chicken or The Egg: Technology and the Business Outcome”

  1. […] is intentional. Deploying Viva isn’t just about novelty; it’s about strategic alignment and desired business outcomes. Here’s […]

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