Summit Funding is a full-service mortgage lender and advisor with over 800 employees based out of Sacramento, California. Summit has been a customer at Intranet Connections since summer 2018 with the purchase of our intranet software in July.
When Angie Yates, Summit’s lead Project Manager of over 80 locations started her position, she made some observations on Summit’s everyday internal communications functions. At that time, Summit did not have any processes to managing emails, documents or forms. The biggest problem she saw was that her staff were continuously being overloaded with an excessive amount of irrelevant, unnecessary and uninformative emails every day.
Employees became frustrated and annoyed which led them to send email threads straight to their junk folders. This only made it more difficult to reach each person when needed. Angie knew there needed to be something done, and that’s why she set out to find a solution for the internal communications challenges that Summit was struggling with.
Shared Drive = Central, but not Searchable
A shared drive was the short-lived solution as it quickly became overloaded with documents, folders and messages that had no method of organization. Furthermore, the shared drive didn’t solve Angie’s initial issue – the excess of irrelevant emails. Next, Angie decided to move all the documents from the shared drive on to the free version of SharePoint.
SharePoint “[Free means] you get what you pay for”
SharePoint soon became just as problematic. The user experience was subpar, the search tool would never bring up the right results, it was complicated with little customer support options, did not allow Summit to add branding or personality to the platform and ultimately did not solve the initial email overload problem. After much trial and error, Angie made the realization that “you get what you pay for” with internal communication software and decided to search for an alternative solution that would finally relieve Summit’s internal communications pains once and for all.
Angie began her journey by doing research into several different internal communications software options. She narrowed it down to eight, then to five, then to three. IC’s intranet software came out on top for her needs.
IC’s intranet software offers a ‘single source of truth’ that gave Summit the opportunity to store documents and information in a central, organized manner. IC was the only software that allowed Summit to host their data on their own server, which was important for security reasons. Best of all, she saw IC’s commitment from the Customer Experience (CX) team.
“The commitment to support and training stood out to me when looking for intranet software. IC had by far the most customer-focused philosophy than any other company we looked at”
Based on Summit’s business objectives, Angie had only 90 days to build, train and launch the new intranet system. Understandably, transferring all of the company’s documents and information to new software in such a short amount of time is a daunting task for anyone working in a large organization. Angie took on the challenge and proceeded to build a project plan to help simplify and streamline the transition process.
Step 1: Project Cleanup – Project cleanup took place only one month after the software was purchased, starting in August and coming to an end in September. This included cleaning out all of the files in the shared drive and SharePoint software, then determining which resources would be put on the new intranet or discarded based on the level of importance. Angie acquired rich insights into which documents and information were absolutely necessary by collaborating with key stakeholders from each department.
Step 2: Learning the Software – Once project clean-up was complete, Angie was ready and excited to begin building her new IC intranet with support from the CX team at IC. She used the free tutorial videos and webinars that IC provides as a guide for her basic intranet construction, as well as calling into IC’s CX team at any time if any additional, more complex questions arose.
Step 3: Customization – Through her past experiences with internal communication software, Angie identified what features and functionality were in greatest demand. She asked her employees what the “must-have items” would be in order to build an intranet that’s useful for everyone. Some items included:
- top bar navigation
- consistent design layout
- ability to add personal branding, fonts and logos
- a good search system (one major missing feature in SharePoint) and,
- multiple methods of finding everyday pieces of content.
She knew that IC was the right software for Summit, as all of the requested “must-haves” were available on IC’s intranet through the different levels of customization.
One month prior to rollout, Angie wanted to get the rest of the company involved to build some excitement for what was to come. She held a competition internally to find a name for the intranet, which ended up receiving over 300 submissions. As well, she made several video tutorials through “Summit University” (Summit’s internal learning program) to help the employees learn how to use the intranet properly to continue to help streamline the transition.
The video tutorials helped Summit’s staff feel confident with the software which helped build excitement. The competition ended up being a great way to engage employees with the intranet and eventually, Summit ended up deciding on a name that everyone was happy with, which helped make the employees feel included. Through this competition, “The Peak” was born.
After Angie had completed building The Peak with the help of the IC team, she ended up with a beautiful, modern, organized and centralized resource that everyone in the company was excited to start using. The intranet had over 20 sites, one dedicated to each department.
Each department site had a designated leader who was in charge of managing all of the information being posted to that site, further reinforcing their new commitment to managing company resources responsibly. IC’s customization flexibility also allowed Angie to leave some space on the department site’s dashboards for some additional customization of logos and photos that were unique to those specific departments, spreading the staff’s sense of inclusion as well as showing her staff that the intranet can be fun.
To help with the email overload, Angie made sure that all company-wide communications were posted on The Peak only, eliminating the need to send it through email to individuals’ inboxes. She also had the option to send information to specific groups through various message filtering options. If the piece of information was important, IC’s subscription alert feature would notify each person about the posting so that no important message was ever missed.
Also, since email is typically not considered a secure resource to store important information, the intranet provided a safe place for Summit to keep all of their financial documents since it requires login information and is only accessible internally.
IC’s theme builder for branding was one of the customization options that Angie used heavily. This gave Angie the ability to easily customize the intranet’s branding to match that of the company. She was able to add her company’s colours, fonts, and logos, and even specify these branding elements per department site. This was one feature that stood out to Angie as it truly made the intranet feel personal, exclusive and unique to her company.
Angie also dove deeply into the various pre-built, easy-install widget options that can be implemented into the IC intranet. She recognized that several time-consuming tasks which were formally manual and disorganized had the ability to be automated through the various available widgets. For example, staff birthdays and anniversaries were shifted to be automatically highlighted on the home page of The Peak so that everyone could see and engage with them. Naturally, this resulted in a lift in pressure off of HR for being the one responsible for remembering and distributing this information.
Angie is committed to keeping the new intranet software as organized as possible. To maintain this, she hosts a quarterly audit on the intranet to clean up, update and move around old documents. If information is found that is no longer relevant, Angie will remove it from the intranet so that employees no longer use that resource to eliminate confusion. She also uses the analytics that IC provides as a reference to find out which documents to highlight based on The Peak’s user behavior.
IC’s ability to set archive dates on files and messages is another feature that Angie and her staff have taken advantage of. This helps Angie and her staff minimize the clutter in The Peak as much as possible, not only on a quarterly basis but on a daily basis as well.
One of the biggest outcomes Angie saw was that her staff were actively resorting to the intranet to get input and insights from each other. “One person would post a phenomenal piece of information that would help all 800 people do their jobs better and quicker – it made the investment worth it.”
The intranet also helped Summit’s employees save more time when locating documents on a daily basis. “Employees are now able to access important documents from multiple places on the intranet without needing to know who the author of that content is.”
Employees are feeling more confident and independent, since now they all know where to start when looking for a resource. This drastically decreased the number of emails being sent to employees on a daily basis. This enabled staff to be able to focus more closely on better serving their customers rather than spending time sorting through emails that were not relevant.
IC provided Summit Funding with an intranet solution that empowered employees to automate simple manual tasks, manage documents by making them easily accessible and centralized, and ultimately achieve the goal of reducing the number of daily emails that were going out to employees.
Summit Funding saw some remarkable savings on their IC intranet. They achieved time-cost savings of $392,503.68 in the first month, as well as improved efficiencies in the following areas:
- 30-minute reduction in company communication per person per day
- 55-minute reduction in accessing department resources per person per day
- Ability to add personal branding, fonts and logos
- Automated simple tasks such as: “good morning” announcements, birthdays and anniversaries
Because of Angie’s dedication to the new software along with the help from the CX team at IC, Summit Funding saw that 80.7% of its 800 plus employees accessed the intranet within the first month.
Overall, Summit Funding saw improvements in user experience, time-saving, manageability and security of information with their new IC intranet.