Best loved biscuits and confectionery brands get it together with Workplace

How pladis are using Workplace by Facebook together with Office 365 to make communication, collaboration and day to day productivity as simple as possible for its employees.

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Pladis Brands

How pladis are using Workplace by Facebook together with Office 365 to make communication, collaboration and day to day productivity as simple as possible for its employees. 

In 2016, Ulker, United Biscuits and Godiva were brought together to form a global leader in the snacking industry, with the central idea of promising ‘happiness to the world with every bite.’ The company has operations in 120 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and the Americas. With annual revenues of aof £2.2 billion, pladis has 34 factories in 13 countries and employs 26,000 people.

The three companies all had different technology platforms and IT setups. As part of a far wider digital transformation programme, they took the decision to streamline collaboration and communication technologies with Workplace by Facebook while implementing Office 365 for document management and day to day productivity tools.

The project is led by Barry Kelly, IS Transformation and Innovation Global Lead at pladis who, working closely with the Comms team, is in charge of the change piece. Barry’s focus is on simplifying behaviours, processes and technologies so they can be utilised easily and consistently by everyone from anywhere.

biscuit production

One way to join everyone up

The first phase of the project is targeted at knowledge workers – some 6500 people across all geographies, cultures and languages.

“Workplace ticked all the boxes for us,” explained Barry. “It is quick, modern, intuitive and requires very little training, other than the business context. Its mobile experience is incredibly easy too. It is a complementary solution: where Office 365 is great for document management and daily working tools, Workplace does a better job for us for collaboration and communication. Where we can, we have turned off any apps that overlap. This helps to avoid confusion and keeps things as simple as possible for our end users, which is what it is all about.”

Workplace by Facebook“Of course, Workplace is just one small piece of the jigsaw,” adds Nick Crawford, founder of WorkNetworks, who was brought in as a Workplace subject matter expert on the core Digital Workplace Team. His remit has been to deliver the pre-launch governance model, Workplace group structure and user and champion education. He has then continued with post launch support, as well as bringing in other experts as necessary. He told us: “While pladis are keeping Workplace as the front end of their digital workplace, they are investigating vital SharePoint integrations and bots to help with document retrieval.” And when you consider that they are in the process of migrating 3 million documents from other platforms, you can see just how mammoth an IS task it is.

 Getting business-ready

From start to finish, it took just six weeks to get Workplace up and running in the business. But plenty of work had already started in terms of tackling the wider change programme.

Using a well-known change model from Simon Sinek, “Start with Why?”  the team of early adopters was key in the rollout success. Barry again: “We established a team of ‘Digital Ninjas’  – our champions, our early adopters – back in January. With a ratio of 1:30 Digital Ninja to business users, that was between 150 – 200 people drawn from all parts of the business, covering all functions and all levels of seniority. This community of volunteers were given training and early access to Office 365 and Workplace and they used Workplace itself to promote the new tool, build engagement with it and ask for and receive help and advice from each other. By the time the project went live in the business, they were indeed Workplace Ninjas!”

The launch  

The official launch at the end of May was accompanied by the usual razzamatazz, a well-orchestrated combination of fun and function. Digital Ninjas (with a prize for the best dressed Ninja!) were highly visible across the business, as were representatives from Facebook. They were busy running help stations, on-site clinics and floor-walking to answer any questions and encourage users to explore their newly branded digital workplace.

By sheer happenstance, the first year anniversary of pladis was just one week into launch and Workplace was the ideal platform on which to share the celebration. All the promotional activity was linked to Workplace helping to bring everyone together into one community.

Measurement and analytics

For now, the stats available in Workplace, and especially the Group stats, are providing everything they need. Within the first six weeks they achieved around 65% adoption and the figure is rising. Adoption currently sits comfortably around 75% with 70% active users each month but Barry is confident this figure will rise further – he is aiming for 80%: “Once we have finalised the Office 365 and SharePoint integrations and the training is woven together, I expect the statistics to show higher adoption and active user rates. There is no doubt that by making things easy and efficient for our end users we will see continued positive impacts on our business day to day.”

pladis- delivering happiness

Success stories and use cases 

There are a number of distinct success stories emerging at this point – just six months in. You can hear more detail about these at smilelondon on 20th November, but here are a couple of examples.

Firstly, high levels of senior management  involvement has had a really positive impact on adoption. Some department heads have used it to great effect, broadcasting regular updates and achieving a 97% adoption rate in their department.

The platform has been embraced massively by different functions. The Global Internal Communications Team, for example, uses a Global Announcement Group for internal updates using rich media and increasingly Workplace Live which is really powerful for leadership updates.

Secondly, remote teams have really embraced the platform. As one example, the UK Field Sales team of some 200 people, generated 8,700 posts, comments and likes in just 28 days. This level of interaction is pretty much unheard of in this typically remote and traditionally hard to reach section of a workforce. Again, helped by an enthusiastic team leader, there is huge business value in sharing best practice, resolving queries, leadership and peer recognition and generally feeling part of a community.

What next?

Barry’s aim is to keep things as simple as possible for the users: “Behind the scenes there is plenty of IT infrastructure work to do. But as far as Workplace and Office 365 are concerned, we will continue training across the business on these two complementary platforms. I expect to meet our stated KPIs as adoption levels continue to rise steadily. We intend to embed further these new ways of working across all of our businesses.”

Nick Crawford sums up: “Rolling out Workplace alongside Office 365 simultaneously across all markets has enabled innovative ways of working and communicating that pladis should be proud of. We are already seeing the fruits of their digital workplace programme in terms of new product development, connected remote teams, and overall efficiencies and connectedness.”

You can find out more about how pladis are making the most of using Workplace and Office 365 together at smilelondon, where you can meet with Nick and Barry to share experiences. It’s not too late to book your place. Why not come and join them?

By Alison Boothby