We built an on-brand, scalable intranet site, unifying the external and internal website to improve the employee experience.
A well-designed and easy to navigate corporate website tends to attract new talent. In today’s competitive marketplace, winning the war on attracting and retaining talent requires more than having a great first impression. Employees look for seamless and impressive experiences beginning with recruitment, through hiring, and into the day-to-day of work life.
Leading organizations have embraced this challenge and are reaping the benefits – benefits like improved retention, improved employee NPS scores, and high levels of employee engagement.
This is the case with our client, a leading-edge, global, biotechnology company. When we first met, their corporate website offered employees and recruits an excellent experience; the site artfully represented corporate culture and brand. Like many organizations, however, employees experience using internal tools very different. In particular, the corporate intranet was outdated, difficult to use and visually disconnected from the external brand.
The problem wasn’t only a technical one. In fact, the client realized a solution needed both a technological modernization of their intranet as well as improvements to employee engagement with it. For our client, this challenge was not abstract. Improving employee engagement directly benefited their ability to attract and retain top talent, a task historically difficult for their market segment.
Enter Centric: An Intranet Solution to Improve the Employee Experience
Centric’s Modern Workplace Practice Lead, Aaron Aude, first learned about this through a business partnership with a design agency who specializes in biotech and life science clients. This agency previously worked with the client and managed to develop and deploy the client’s externally facing, public web site as well as create and launch a refreshed brand.
As Centric and this design agency explored the client’s needs in more detail, it became clear a digital workplace product might accelerate the design and build aspects of an intranet while improving management and engagement with it. Aude knew Akumina, a lightweight software framework that sits on top of SharePoint was a great fit for their needs.
Out of the box, Akumina contains a modern and mobile friendly UI, simpler administrative and content management tools and personalization features that native SharePoint doesn’t easily support.
“At the time, the client’s intranet was managed manually by one person, who used a text editor to edit CSS and HTML. Not only did this make content management difficult, it also limited the organization’s ability to manage content on their own. Updates to the site were also time consuming and error-prone” said Aude. “Since our client had already invested in SharePoint, Akumina became a natural fit for the tool that could improve and support distributed content management.”
The client followed a competitive bid process for the project, starting first with a request for proposal (RFP), then sub-selection, orals and finally vendor selection. Centric’s Modern Workplace partnered with a Centric business unit and the design agency to compete, and won the bid for the work. We leveraged the abilities of each company – Centric with its knowledge of Akumina and SharePoint, and the design agency’s knowledge of the employee their engagement, brand, and culture alignment.
- Throughout the project, the Centric and Agency team provided strategic and education support including:
- Advising on the content strategy and information architecture
- Educating the team on the out-of-the-box Akumina functionality
- Dissecting and understand all the different content components on each site page to assess needs and inform the configuration.
- Creating a content contributor user guide to ensure the content team knew how to use the tool and could continue to add content contributors with ease.
Overall the project went very well, with a few minor but common challenges to work through like:
Changing requirements during the build phase – We were flexible and wanted our client and their employees to delight in their intranet solution. In some instances, our team created custom widgets when the functionality the client wanted didn’t exist.
Product and feature limitations – Our team had a series of feature blockers due to the version of Akumina that was installed. In each case, we worked with Akumina to either work through the blocking issue or develop a workaround.
The Results: Consistent Customer and Employee Web Experience, Engaged Users and a Site That Can Scale
The Centric and Agency team designed, built, and introduced an intranet site that created the desired employee experience and can support business and content growth as the business continues to expand. We are thrilled our client can now:
- Benefit from a unified corporate brand, culture and employee experience. There is a unified experience from public web site to internal, private intranet.
- Share, develop and publish content across departments and groups. This process occurs through a modern, intuitive, user-friendly interface and does not require knowledge of CSS, HTML, and notepad.
- Report improvements in employee engagement with the site. The most notable changes are the responsive design which allows content to be rendered regardless of the device and the search functionality which makes it easier for employees to find information.
- Access to analytics to track employee engagement. Our client can determine what content, sites and pages employees interact with, which helps drive further engagement and optimization of the site.
Our team has since started Phase 2 of the project, which includes additional pages, features and bug fixes.