Technological advances have accelerated in recent years, but intranets are still much as they were. They are management-driven: one way channels of communication. User37 was commissioned and retained by Ofcom because our work draws upon the latest social tools, facilities and open source resources to take internal communications to a whole new level. User37's intranets are geared to increase buy-in, foster collaborative working environments online and send productivity soaring.
User37’s brief was to redevelop and relaunch Ofcom’s intranet transforming it into an interactive hub and positioning it at the centre of the organisation’s internal communications strategy. Ofcom is the regulator for the communications industries in the UK, with 800 plus employees. We aimed to secure a significant rise in the number of regular intranet users within the organisation. Within a workforce the size of Ofcom’s, it is often the case that informal communication between departments is inhibited. We were keen to promote a knowledge-sharing culture, by encouraging users to interact and communicate with one another.
We began by researching within the organisation, to establish needs and areas for development. We interviewed representatives from each department, establishing a focus group to collect data and collaborating closely with Ofcom’s internal comms team and the results of their colleague survey data. This invaluable process enabled us to develop an intranet strategy, by clarifying users’ requirements and identifying areas ripe with potential.
For example, it became clear that Ofcom’s frequent, global e-mails were disliked by users. We replaced them with HTML news stories and alerts on an open source framework, reducing information overload while highlighting and delivering need-to-know content for individuals.
We developed additional content types, which include events, calendars, briefings, relevant human interest stories and a board for internal and external jobs and secondment opportunities. Targetted training and events increased buy-in and buzz around the new facilities, helping devolve publication to relevant departments or individuals, empowering users. User37 created “virtual spaces” in which users from different departments can meet, share knowledge and collaborate on a range of Ofcom projects. Legacy systems were re-skinned for a seamlessly integrated user experience.
We cemented a high level of engagement after rolling out various social network features. These included user blogs, daily polls, the ability to RSVP to events and the facilities to comment or give a “thumbs up” to posted items. Live streamed and recorded video content have become key features of Ofcom’s internal communications programme, and these are described in greater detail below.
Professional training and development was a key focus for us. Every user has, within their personalised profile, a personalised section dedicated to development. This includes information about relevant opportunities, a dedicated calendar of suitable training events and a learning management system (LMS) portal, built and leveraged on an existing platform with improved accessibility and integration with other apps.
“User37 has been instrumental in the development of Ofcom's highly regarded intranet”, says Helen Civil, Ofcom’s head of internal communications. “User37 is a key supplier to Ofcom, contributing to web development projects and a range of audiovisual and online content projects. The company is innovative in its approach, bringing the latest web thinking to the table. Its full engagement with the Drupal and broader development communities inspire us with confidence, because we know that all new developments will have been robustly tested and will have gained the communities' approval, reducing the perceived risk for our IT stakeholders.”
User37 increased user uptake by 40 per cent, and continue to work with Ofcom to develop and enhance the organisation’s internal communications. Further developments are planned.