From IT Program to Overall Corporate Strategy
Robert Mann, Information Technology (IT) Manager at Westminster Canterbury, began his intranet journey with a SharePoint intranet. Six months later, SharePoint deployed with required assistance from a third-party SharePoint Developer. Initially, Mann was happy with the new intranet, but after only a year he realized SharePoint was difficult to use, and maintaining it was time-consuming.
“SharePoint was nice for a year. After that, our SharePoint consultant went out of business, and making changes to the intranet ourselves became too resource-intensive and costly. One particular pain point was getting our company branding on the SharePoint intranet – it was difficult to alter the design and match our brand guidelines. It was time, resource, and cost-intensive to accomplish this, and we were never quite happy with how it turned out,” Mann explained.
During the course of Westminster Canterbury’s short tenure with SharePoint, Mann recognized that any changes made on the SharePoint intranet must be administered by IT or by a third-party resource, no part of their SharePoint intranet administration could be handed off to non-IT employees.
Mann knew they needed to start fresh with a new intranet that all employees could work with, without the bulk of the management residing in with the IT Department. After only evaluating one alternative intranet solution, Mann immediately took the initiative to purchase intranet software from IC because of its simplicity and ease-of-use that go unmatched.
“I knew we badly needed a new intranet platform that was more user-friendly and easier to administer than SharePoint,” Mann explained, “Immediately, I thought of IC”.
The Search for an All Employee Intranet
Most companies purchase intranet software to make their employees’ lives easier. However, when Robert Mann, IT Manager at Westminster Canterbury, purchased SharePoint it only made his life more difficult.
When Mann realized SharePoint was too difficult to set up in-house himself, he hired a third-party SharePoint Consultant, which became quite expensive. After only one year, the SharePoint Consultant went out of business, leaving Mann and his IT Department out to dry with an intranet that was difficult to maintain and update.
SharePoint was far too complicated for non- IT employees to administer. This quickly became a problem for the resource-constrained Westminster Canterbury IT Department, as this was just one of the many systems they must administer. They simply didn’t have the capacity to facilitate every document upload, add each company announcement, on-board every new employee, and publish each new piece of content on the intranet along with all their other IT obligations.
Mann had heard about the simplicity and ease-of-use of IC’s intranet software from other healthcare organizations. They wanted an intranet that didn’t require third-party consultants and that would be easy for all employees to use. IC delivered just that and at a reasonable price point.
Just one year after purchasing SharePoint, Mann made the executive decision to purchase IC’s intranet software. It was important for Mann to switch everything over to the new intranet as fast as possible so non-IT employees could start updating and maintaining their new intranet.
With some help from IC’s Technical Support Team, Mann was able to quickly migrate from SharePoint to IC in an instant. “After we switched to IC we breathed a sigh of relief, other departments and non-IT staff members were able to take over most of the day-to-day tasks,” Mann informed.
Employees were quickly trained on IC. The administration and maintenance of the new intranet was a shared responsibility, each department maintaining and managing their own areas of the intranet. Mann’s IT Department no longer had full custody of everything on the intranet.
An Employee-Based Intranet
Immediately after installing their new intranet, Mann received positive feedback from employees.
“The implementation went smoothly and everyone liked the look and feel of the new intranet. It flowed really well and it is easier to read and navigate than SharePoint. Our intranet now reminds me of the public websites I use in my own personal time,” Mann explained.
To ensure the new intranet would be more widely used, Mann wanted to go from what was an IT program and focus more on making it an employee program. He began working closely with the HR and Public Relations Departments to include applications and features that would help employees get their jobs done faster, as well as increase intranet adoption and employee engagement.
In doing this, Mann created several applications that were previously offline, inefficient processes, moving them onto the intranet. One of the most popular tools Mann created was Westminster Canterbury’s Learning Calendar. The Learning Calendar enables staff to sign up for classes, webinars or seminars, whether it’s for corporate, management, or clinical skills training. It also allows staff to sign up for mandatory regulatory classes and other types of corporate training.
Before IC , sign-ups were difficult to maintain and administrate. With the success and popularity of this application alone, Mann has future plans of creating a Westminster Canterbury University on the intranet.
“As an IT Manager, I can say administering SharePoint and all the services it uses is incredibly time-consuming. Switching to IC from SharePoint, simplified intranet administration saving me countless hours a year. ”
– Robert Mann, IT Manager Westminster Canterbury
Since the Learning Calendar was so highly used and appreciated, Mann thought of more ways Westminster Canterbury could be utilizing their new intranet. That’s when he thought of moving the company newsletter, InTouch, online. Each month, the Public Relations team creates and distributes an employee newsletter, which would have to be printed and manually distributed to all employees. Realizing how costly and time inefficient this was, Mann had the Public Relations Team create an electronic version of this newsletter on the intranet.
Moving this paper-based process online now provides easy access for all employees to publications, even historical issues, that only previously existed for employees in the paper-based format.
“This one application alone as reduced our paper printing by 50%. Now we only have to print the newsletter for employees who don’t have a computer, which is nominal. We have saved thousands on paper, ink costs, and printer maintenance just this year alone. It also allows us to distribute the newsletter to employees more quickly. By the end of the year, we expect that 90% of all of the paper-based tasks will be digital on our intranet,” Mann informed.
To ensure they stay on track with this goal, Mann is looking to set-up computer kiosks in the employee dining room which will provide access to the intranet so all staff, whether they have access to a computer or not, can get it on the intranet.
Another way Mann has reduced paper waste and the associated costs is with the Corporate Compliance tool. Corporate Compliance on the Westminster Canterbury intranet contains all the organization’s policies and procedures. Previously, these documents were kept in a handbook that was manually distributed to each employee. Whenever a change in policy occurred, they would have to reprint the handbook for all staff members. Now, it simply gets updated on the intranet and an announcement is set on the intranet home page notifying employees of the change.
“We tried using a lot of these features on our SharePoint intranet, but it took a lot more effort to administrate. Public Relations and HR used to get frustrated and email content to IT and IT would have to make changes, whereas now Public Relations can update their own publications without help from IT,” Mann explained. “I personally enjoy not getting emails from staff asking me to update the intranet anymore,” Mann added. Mann appreciates the sizable time-savings he has reaped with IC allowing more parties to be involved in the day-to-day operations of their intranet.
“As an IT Manager, switching to IC from SharePoint has simplified intranet administration for me, saving me at least 100 hours a year. Not to mention, the ease-of-use and intuitive nature built into the product that allows our HR Department to take over onboarding new employees, which previously could only be done by our IT staff on our SharePoint intranet,” Mann declared.
Simplified Training & Onboarding
A priority Mann worked hard to achieve with the new intranet was ensuring HR could take over areas of the intranet themselves, specifically, new employee onboarding. “Completely new to our intranet are our Department Sites. It’s so easy to create a site on IC, the team can have a new site up and running in less than an hour,” Mann detailed.
“We were using Active Directory Synchronization on SharePoint, but it didn’t have the look and feel of a true Employee Directory. We had to pay for customization to get SharePoint to do what we wanted it to do. With IC, it came with a built-in professional, visual Employee Directory. It has been completely embraced and taken over by our HR Department,” Mann reported pleased. “Not only has HR taken over adding new employees to the intranet, but they’ve also taken it to the next level and included new hire orientation right on the intranet. This gives new hires a quick demonstration of how to use the intranet, what’s on it, where to find key resources and how to get around,” Mann further explained.
Before this initiative, Mann noticed a lot of new employees didn’t know much about the intranet. There is now an instructional overview of using the intranet incorporated in our New Employee Training.
In addition, the HR Department has created a Managers ToolBox feature that contains information regarding team meetings, management documents, job descriptions, and more. It has proven to be popular at Westminster Canterbury and has become the place where managers go to collaborate.
“SharePoint used to be an IT program. Now our intranet software gives us a full Corporate Strategy.”
– Robert Mann, IT Manager Westminster Canterbury
“SharePoint used to be an IT program. Now IC is a full corporate strategy for us. People don’t see it as an IT program or an IT department initiative anymore, they see how HR uses it to communicate, Executives use it, the entire company uses it to connect and employees now get information in an expedient manner through it,” Mann shared.
Reliable Product & Support
With intranet adoption and employee engagement on the rise, it was important for Mann to keep their new intranet fresh, not dated like their SharePoint intranet. After a short three years using IC’s intranet software, Mann felt like he needed to shake things up again and decided to undertake an intranet redesign to ensure the Westminster Canterbury intranet stayed relevant.
Mann wanted to deliver the best user experience and the resources employees wanted most in the new design so he surveyed employees through the intranet to acquire the feedback he needed and provide employees further buy-in into their intranet.
Beginning with the intranet home page, Mann included company announcements for important company-wide information, such as mandatory flu shot announcements. And as per employee requests, he included an Employee Birthday Feed and a Weather Feed. In addition, he reorganized the Global Menu Navigation and also included a Left Sidebar Navigation with collapsible menu items to popular features and quick links.
For Mann, the redesign was all about focusing on the number of clicks it took for employees to locate desired resources. “Moving to IC from SharePoint, our intranet adoption rate increased by more than 50%. Our employees love the design and usability of IC – plus, the navigation is intuitive, and the product is unbelievably user friendly. It’s more than just a data and document center, it engages our employees and promotes our culture,” Mann shared.
Included on the intranet home page was their United Way Campaign. He incorporated intranet games and contests into the campaign such as intranet bingo and had employees who wanted to play donate to the United Way cause to receive their bingo board and they could play directly from their desk. This alone has increased employee donations, participation and engagement.
During the whole intranet redesign process, Mann was able to connect with IC’s Stellar Technical Support Team to get his inquires answered quickly and efficiently as he was exploring new areas of the intranet software. Being able to work closely with IC’s Technical Support Staff was a relief for Mann after working in isolation on the SharePoint intranet.
“Formerly on SharePoint, if my application team had an issue and I was out of the office, they would have to engage an external consultant which could take days, even a week to respond. Now if there are any questions that pop up about our intranet, they are answered quickly by the responsive and friendly IC Technical Support Staff. When we were on SharePoint, we didn’t have anyone to call,” Mann explained. Now, when Mann has a question, he is able to email and even schedule a remote session to speak with a Support Technician directly at IC. A radical change from the limited and costly support they received with their SharePoint intranet.
Aside from the support, Mann and the rest of the Westminster Canterbury team have been thoroughly impressed with their new intranet platform. “I’ve been really impressed with the product enhancements and upgrades available on IC over the years. The IC infrastructure is rock solid. We have had zero downtime on IC and if there is ever an issue the IC Team is quick to get us a resolution,” Mann touted.
Mann continues to play around with the Westminster Canterbury intranet. Right now, intranet usage is at an all-time high and he has no plans of stopping there. With several more ideas and strategies in place, Mann is hoping to eliminate paper waste completely and move almost all their company procedures online.