Towergate Insurance has grown by the acquisition of more than 300 smaller niche businesses into the largest corporate and SME insurance brokers in the UK. Working right at the heart of local communities, they arrange insurance for the most diverse and comprehensive range of risks in the UK through a workforce of some 4000 staff in over 100 locations. Introducing an intranet that would bridge the gap between cross-selling and collaboration, and help to build a sense of unity across such a disparate and fragmented workforce was certainly a challenge. We spoke to Giulia Fares, Group Digital Strategy and Development Manager, to find out how she masterminded a project that saw Yammer adoption rocket on the launch of their new social intranet.
By Alison Boothby
It was the rollout of O365, a huge IT transformation for the business, that provided the catalyst for a new intranet that would:
- Integrate with their ‘Cloud-First’ Strategy
- Maximise existing internal SharePoint knowledge
- Remove the then current overly-customised inflexible SharePoint on Premise platform
- Refresh the style and usability of the Intranet
Giulia Fares, Group Digital Strategy and Development Manager, picks up the story: “It was clear that our current intranet was not fulfilling its scope as the core internal digital communications channel as it was not available to everybody, anywhere and anytime; it was technically and architecturally not fit for purpose and was built on an unsupported legacy application that was hitting full capacity.
“We needed a complete rethink to create an intranet that was accessible by everyone, from anywhere, on any device. First and foremost, we wanted to improve internal communications across the business by creating compelling content that was targeted based on either location or job role, and therefore relevant based on the user’s profile. Ultimately we needed an intranet that would be valuable for our employees, helping them get their work done more easily and building a collective sense of pride in our business. From a technical stance, the new intranet had to be flexible, scalable, maintainable and changeable. It had to be supported by a strong search function and would have agreed KPIs which were clearly measurable.”
The project was led by Giulia Fares who ensured that there was cross-functional involvement from the outset. “It was important to establish what the must-have capabilities of the new intranet were to be, taking into account the different comms and IT perspectives. In any intranet project there are always compromises, but by asking the right questions we could ensure that both agendas were heard and agree together where the compromises would be in the first phase. Other nice-to-have objectives then helped us to produce a shared roadmap for the intranet.”
Implementing collaboration and communication tools can seem like an overwhelming challenge with so many competing user, team and business unit demands adding complication to an already bamboozling range of options, features and requirements. Content and Code have used their considerable experience of building intranets to put together ‘a kit’ of the most popular and most successful ingredients for a modern intranet. This allows clients to take advantage of all the best thinking and saves an enormous amount of time. And they call this Fresh.
Giulia Fares continues: “We chose Fresh because they were able to provide a simplified communication and collaboration solution that enabled us to get up and running pretty quickly. One other thing that made the Fresh proposition stand out is the fact that they offered a continuous improvement programme which means our new intranet – which is called Connect – will stay relevant in time. With their vast experience Content & Code have been able to package up all the best bits that make an intranet successful, so we can use the power of SharePoint and the core tools available in O365. There is no doubt that as a result of our new intranet we are a more connected, more efficient and happier workplace.”
Yammer at its heart
Connect integrates Yammer with teamsites and news posts. It is proving really successful at building a sense of community, breaking down silos and cross-selling the expertise that exists across the business. In the first three months Yammer adoption was up to 50%. Now, nearly six months post launch, they are about to reach adoption levels of 65% – great results by any account.
Employees are encouraged to personalise their intranet experience and are given a little ‘nudge’ by way of a (potentially irritating!) banner that appears if they have not yet managed their preferences in their profile.
Behind a successful social intranet is a lot of hard work, and in particular a well thought out and well executed launch plan. As part of a comms campaign that began three months ahead of go-live, they produced the expected training materials, held targeted webinars (which are still continuing), had senior management involved in roadshows and set up genius bars with local champions. They used a French bulldog to raise curiosity and all became clear in the low budget but high impact video that accompanied the launch, designed to be fun and light touch but delivering the message clearly.
But one aspect of the plan that took us by surprise was that having trained the IT helpdesk in all aspects of the new intranet in order to field the (assumed inevitable) volume of calls, the calls never came! The new intranet was so super intuitive that users just got on with it with very little resistance.
Giulia Fares is no stranger to launching intranets, and her passion for what she does is infectious. She will be on stage at smilelondon with Marc Wright on 20th November 2017 sharing some of her ideas and experiences. Don’t miss out learning more about launching a successful social intranet with Yammer. Tickets are available here.