How an information dumping ground became the center of the multimillion pound organization.
While the two-person team that built the Dairy Crest intranet would have their work cut out for them, their dynamic enabled a well-balanced build. Kevin not only had a project management and change management background, he was also in IT, so this lent a technical aspect to the build. Sam Coop, on the other hand, specialized in Communications so provided a more user-centric viewpoint. As Coop points out, “The collaboration between our two departments really hit the sweet spot.”
Before going live with their new system in January 2019, Dairy Crest’s intranet was “a very out of date dumping ground for documents”. Despite this, it was surprisingly well used – there was clearly a need for a closed network within the company. However, with a broken search function, and no way of carrying out version control, a decision was made to move away from the ADX file sharing site and look for something more up-to-date.
The organization moved to Microsoft Azure, dropped LotusNotes for Outlook, introduced OneDrive and Skype and started looking around for a new intranet.
Choosing the right intranet service provider was painstaking. Dairy Crest was looking for an organization who specialized in intranets as their main business, but they were also looking for a company who had a clear understanding of the internal comms challenges of a business and could create a user-centric platform that could help with company-wide engagement. With the idea of building the solution around the users’ needs, it was a chance to see what solutions were out there. The team went to a number of workshops and eventually saw that there was a clear winner overall when it came to functionality, service, cost and the people that Dairy Crest met and dealt with.
Interact proved to be the best fit. “The workshops were well run, with really knowledgeable presenters, and we noticed that while these sessions were a good opportunity to sell the product, Interact actually came at it from a problem-solving angle.”
The team agreed that Interact was the best solution – and they knew that the service they would receive would put the user at the heart of everything. “We had certain criteria we needed to fulfill,” says Coop, “and Interact had all of that.”
Rebuilding from scratch
Early on in the planning stage, Dairy Crest’s knew they needed to create a site that could instill trust back into the workforce and show to them what an intranet could potentially do.
Our old intranet had really damaged people’s opinions of intranets. Even the word intranet was a dirty word because they related it to a system that didn’t work. So, in order to rebuild trust, we needed to make sure the content was recent and relevant.
In order to build an intranet that would change perceptions and improve the way the organization worked, the team mapped out the four priorities:
Self-serve: The self-serving aspect was big priority, the team wanted to see a reduction in the number of questions and queries that HR and other overworked departments were dealing with day-to-day.
Search: Linking in with the self-serve function, the new intranet needed to allow people to find stuff quickly. Search is an underrated but hugely important function, and the team knew that if executed correctly, it would underpin employee engagement across the workforce.
Collaboration: Enabling people to work together was also a key area that needed improving. The intranet team wanted people to be able to see the intranet as a connecting tool – and something they could use to work with one another.
Social: Visibility of people was important to, so every profile has an image and a contact name and a way of getting in touch with one another. Posting a message on their page, or just simply putting a face to a name was transformative in a large organization that previously had no other way of identifying teams, departments, or senior level management who weren’t often on the floor.
The pressure on the small intranet team to deliver a fully functional site was immense, and while relief was felt at being able to go live, they decided to opt for a soft launch. Without the burden of staging a day dedicated to its introduction, the team could concentrate on making sure the site was user-ready.
“When we launched, we knew we’d be on to a win-win by just getting the search to work. But on the day, we received phenomenal feedback straightaway. People were commenting on how it looked and amazed at how quickly they could find things they needed. We’ve definitely delivered, and I think we’ve also surpassed people’s expectations of what an intranet could be.”
The positive feedback was a huge boost to the small team who carried on making adjustments and improvements to the site after going live.
The difference between light and day
After the soft launch, it was now time to check in on the data to see how the system had bedded in with the staff. The stats were hugely encouraging: with 86% of active users within the first six weeks of going live. This period saw an explosion in the pages of content published on the site, and this has grown as more people are trained to add their blogs, posts, and messages.
As of today, their active users stand at 95%, the self-service box has been ticked, and more and more authors are coming on board. In terms of what the new intranet has offered to the organization, “It’s the difference between night and day. The new system has been like taking a stone out of your shoe,” according to Hood.
Most popular parts of the intranet
Analyzing the stats of intranet usage across the organization is an important part of site management. In order to learn and make improvements, Coop and her team need to see changes in behavior, trends and any developments. The most visited pages tend to be HR-related, like booking annual leave or claiming expenses. There is also a lot of traffic going to the job vacancy page and the discount offers page.
“It’s really important to us that we keep an eye on habits and interests. If you tap into that, you can tailor your content to be more user-centric.”
Coop is keen to use the intranet to push civic engagement, particularly on the community and volunteering side of things. The Employee Lottery is very popular across the whole organization. People can sign up to pay a small amount out of the salary per week where 50% goes into a charity fund, and the other 50% goes into the cash draw. Sam Coop explains, “People can nominate charities to receive donations and because we’ve been able to build a form online, where before they would have had to get something printed off and fill it in, now they can just literally punch in their name. The cash goes into a pot to win and then the other half sits there waiting to be donated to charities of our workforce’s choosing.”
It has been an instant success thanks to the well thought-out strategy carried out by Hood pre-build as well as having the combination of IT and comms from the very beginning. While the technical side was taken care of, Hood was able to concentrate on the user’s experience, making sure the needs and behaviors of the employees were taken into consideration.
The intranet has been such a success that it has gained the attention of Saputo, one of the largest dairy companies in the world, and Dairy Crest’s new owners. They’re consulting with Coop and using her experience and skills acquired from building a system from scratch, to plan their own intranet for their global organization.