NYC kicked off our US intranet live tour series, put together for communications professionals to network, take away best practice hints and tips and see award-winning intranets in action. I was blown away by the level of engagement and contribution from the group – it made the Mets’ plight against Kansas City Royals pale into a support act (I’m just showing off with my baseball knowledge now).

Our host for the meet up was Orbis International, a nonprofit focusing on the prevention of blindness and the treatment of blinding eye diseases in developing countries. They’re a great cause and their intranet is shaping up to be quite something, one that I’m looking forward to sharing in the future. For this event, the intranet on tour was that of American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

ASPCA intranet live tour

The scale of innovation and technical excellence we see in live tours continues to astound me and ASPCA is no exception. Their intranet is simply amazing, not solely because they have more pictures of animals on their site than Facebook or because I got a sneaky tour of the amazing office (office cats and all). Or even that the business changes they’ve implemented via their intranet including integration with their finance and HR platform, Workday, is incredible (named Project Astro after the dog from The Jetsons) or because they are just great people… it’s because all of this and so much more! It’s hard to put their work and ingenuity into words.

“Our goal is that every ASPCA employee will need to login to the intranet and Workday every day (with) these two tools integrating and driving our strategy.” Claire Coveney at ASPCA

As a communications professional, how do you get the most out of your intranet? ASPCA screenshot

Claire sparked a wave across the audience of “I want that to be my intranet”, showing a site rich in content and imagery.

Their annual enrolment program was previously the stuff of nightmares and is now user-friendly and engaging, mixing their Rewards feature with ‘high five cards’ where employees download images of animals giving a high five to say thank you for great work. You can see why employees love their site.

Landing pages are rich in content and imagery and the levels of contribution are astounding.

The next steps for these guys will be rolling out the Workday integration, including training and quizzes to give them an insight into applied knowledge.

As a communications professional, how do you get the most out of your intranet? ASPCA Workday integration

Amongst their various intranet projects, the ASPCA team are working on a project to redefine the cultural values, making values livable, rather than laminated – a common challenge we see our customers facing. The culture content area will contain blogs and video guidance to ensure everyone can learn and partake at their own speed. Claire summed this up beautifully “we wanted to make this process friendly, engaging and inspiring.”

The intranet has become an extra pair of hands

As a communications professional, how do you get the most out of your intranet? ASPCA L&D team area

The Learning and Development team area has been a huge success. The team consists of two people, so to help with the lack of resource they built an area on the intranet to keep staff informed and heavily reduce admin. When creating the area, Claire and the comms team asked Learning and Development three simple questions:

  • What do you want?
  • What are people likely to need to do here?
  • What do you need to be easier? Improving the auto enrolment process

ASPCA transformed a work intensive and widely disliked open enrolment process to a 100% paperless open enrolment for 900 people – “not one sheet of paper was used” – which was an incredible transformation.

Supporting internal campaigns

In March each year the ASPCA hold benefits awareness month. This year events were made available in the intranet calendars and staff could now access their information whenever required via the site.

Engaging a remote workforce

“One of the biggest challenges is engaging all employees as part of the ASPCA family.”

With five main offices and a lot of people working full time at home, this can be a particularly tricky challenge. However, creating an online community and actively encouraging people to network with others across the charity based on interests and causes has been a huge success.

A weekly round up called The Scoop directing people to various parts of the intranet has proved very useful in achieving this goal.

Becoming a key internal communications tool

When email was down for a whole day it was actually a blessing to improve adoption. The intranet was a great way to communicate issues and any workarounds, and helped with getting buy-in from the senior management team.

Naming the intranet – help required

ASPCA are looking for suggestions to name their intranet. We’re releasing a naming suggestion app on our website very soon, but it would be great if you could share your naming suggestions – add it to the comments below.

Intranet roundtable discussions

These have quickly become a much loved feature of our meet ups. We focused upon two topics:

Roundtable 1 – Overcoming senior management negativity

Roundtable 2 – Engaging those hard to reach employees

The headline findings were:

  • As communications professionals we need to be part-salesman, part-facilitator
  • We often need to overcome the divide between IT and comms first and then go to management as a united front
  • To get execs to adopt the intranet, share the anecdote that once an email is out with an error or risk it can be difficult to recall. With a blog you can immediately edit
  • Rather than expecting C-level execs to understand your needs and terms, talk in their language, demonstrating objectives, benefits and bottom line etc.
  • Get them blogging. JCCA’s new exec team came in a month ago and they are doing a monthly blog as a way of working
  • It can be tempting to focus on those last few % of non-adopters, but there comes a point where you must decide if you time is better spent actively catering for your captive audience. Peer influence can be an amazing thing
  • Think of all employees as new starters, don’t make people search for information

Intranet award winners

We moved on to share the successes and killer ideas from some of our award winners and Ragan finalists, which I have discussed in a previous blog post. The day was rounded off with a couple of drinks and for me, an unexpected Devils hockey game.

It was really great seeing everyone at the event – the day was a great success and I look forward to hosting the next one. Follow us on Twitter to discover future dates as they’re released.