Hi I’m Tom Chippendale, digital channels manager at Wessex Water.
Wessex is one of the 12 water and sewerage companies in the UK.
We have around 2.7million customers and 2,500 staff in offices and in the field.
The intranet, known as Source, was launched around 10 years ago.
The software was reaching end of life, and there were issues with access, usability, development and admin.
So the decision was taken to look for a new home.
So what did staff think of Source? We did some interviews, workshops and a survey, which around one third of workforce (nearly 800 people) completed.
Around half of respondents said they were happy with it. Who’s Who, the people directory, is used a lot, but wasn’t perfect. And it was useful for reference information and news.
What didn’t people like? The search was the main issue. Thousands of pages and documents, with no way to refine them. Staff weren't confident content was up to date. And there was an appetite to improve access away from the office and for different devices.
So, we came up with a 3 year plan.
Initial actions were to move to a new platform and address key themes from feedback.
The business was already using Office 365, so while we considered other stand alone products, the decision was made to build the site in SharePoint.
Without in-house developers, we invested in a product to give us some “add ons” for design, page templates and various other features.
So essentially, we were taking our site out of a small box, and adding it to a bigger one.
So where did our new intranet fit in?
The content sits on SharePoint - intranet pages and documents are stored here.
Delve is a good directory of all staff, which also shows related files people are working on.
Yammer communities are very much part of our intranet strategy to allow more informal collaboration.
Plus… there were other tools and channels being launched or tested.
We knew from the stats and from what people told us that the people directory is our killer app.
Here’s my colleague Luke, and our team.
You can view what he’s working on if you have access, or both of you may be working on a file.
He can add his own skills, which helps him become more searchable by expertise.
This part of the project required:
a lot of user testing due to Delve pulling from our active directory in the cloud. configuring fields and layout with our O365 admins and understanding how and where our new photos would appear in the various corners of Office365.
We set about designing the new home page, helped by some IA and design feedback from staff.
Our team had a crash course in SharePoint and provided training to publishers.
By June this year we were ready to go live.
We gave a preview link to staff before the switch over so their new home page wasn’t too much of a shock.
For help and feedback, we pushed people towards submitting queries online away from our personal inboxes.
So what kind of feedback did we get from people at launch?
Initially, missing content and features was the most popular theme.
Yes, more than one person asked where their link to Google had gone.
Due to the quality of the old search, there was understandably a “navigation first” approach.
We encouraged people to try the search and save favourite links to their home page.
It also helped our team to pick up content missed during the migration, or that wasn’t properly indexed in the search.
Other feedback reflected new ways of doing things in Office365.
The cloud-based system performed slower than our on premise intranet during testing, and this seemed to be an issue for some, depending on their connection.
Seeing documents and email attachments in Delve rang alarm bells for people too.
And the extra sign in step for Office365, which they didn’t have on the old system, was also raised by a few people.
Some people didn’t really mind what their home page looked like…….it was more about what they looked like.
We had quite a few people wanting their sparkling new, corporate, photos changing or even removing.
We spent more time dealing with this than we’d anticipated…..and not just the Photoshop work.
So that was the first month after launch. So far, no major issues….
…and then we put out our first satisfaction survey a few weeks ago.
While I’d had some positive feedback to my face, this survey seemed to attract mainly negative views.
Performance being the main issue.
For us, we’re still reviewing all the feedback, but at a high level:
Performance is a bigger issue than we thought. It seems the search needs promoting and explaining more. Content improvements need to continue to support a good search.
It’s fair to say satisfaction is nowhere near what we want it to be, but a lot of the issues are being tackled as part of our ongoing work.
And ultimately, this is really valuable stuff. If we hadn’t asked people, we wouldn’t know.
So we’ll keep asking and hopefully improve that satisfaction rating, as long as I still have my job!
So, to finish I’ve put together a few learnings based on our experiences so far...
1. Make friends with your Office365 admin Buy them coffee, remember their birthday. Like their Yammer posts. There is so much to Office365, each channel has its own settings and quirks. There is a lot to stay on top of.
2. Stay close to other Office365 projects We hear all the time collaboration is key for users, but the same goes for project teams behind the scenes. Microsoft are chucking stuff at you left, right and centre, so it’s important to centralise activities and review your digital workplace together. There’s nothing worse for a comms team when a new icon appears out of the blue - and this has happened in our environment more than once.
3. Check the health of your AD data Thrusting people into Office 365 immediately exposed our active directory. We had a few issues with staff accessing the site due to their profile group and it also took a while to refine our people search. We underestimated this one, and we’re still working through it now. A review of AD could easily be a project in its own right.
4. Don’t be too starstruck You can be wowed by the polished screenshots, but don’t miss the small things people may still need from what you’re taking away! In our case, while Delve seemed to work well, staff soon told us they couldn’t view detailed organisation charts or send text messages from profiles, like they could on the old, custom built directory. So we need to keep the old directory alive until we can offer a good alternative.
And for users…
1. The key one that’s really biting us right now is performance. We’re currently going through work with our IT team and suppliers to ensure our site’s working at the best possible speed.
2. Mobile We've learned a mobile experience isn’t just about a responsive home page on a browser, which is struggling with the performance issues anyway. Most Office 365 tools come as apps which are all different offerings to the desktop versions. For example, Delve could be a great app for a self contained staff directory. But on first review, we can’t see phone numbers anywhere. So that’s another conversation with Microsoft.
3. Sharing As you’ve seen, One Drive and SharePoint files being surfaced in Delve caused panic among some users. So we needed to brief people again about how to share documents and check permissions.
4. Help with orientation We were giving staff a new system so had to explain:
Their online profile and login. The app launcher, or waffle, which is a way to navigate through Office 365. The different ways to search How the intranet fits into the world of O365 – for example, the difference between the “published” items and the “working documents” in SharePoint.
It may not be our top priority, but don’t underestimate the importance of looking good in the digital workplace.
Welcome to your new Office 365 intranet - Tom Chippendale
Welcome to your new Office 365 intranet
Tom Chippendale, digital channels manager
News and reference
What did people think of Source?
New publishing platform
What’s in the box?
Feedback: something’s missing
Where’s my link to
I can’t text people any more
from their profile page.
I can’t find...
Feedback: Office 365
I'm looking for rope in the office
along with many other colleagues!
The new Source is slow.
I have to sign in every time I want to use
Source... How can I stay signed in ??
Why can everyone can see my
documents in Delve?
Feedback: say cheese
I look like Shrek
on a bad day!
There’s a growth on
my cheek, could you
please remove it?
My colleagues think
I look like Gollum.
Feedback: the first satisfaction survey
• Anonymous, no incentive
• 12% staff responded
• Invited suggestions for improvement
• 24% satisfied
• Poor performance main complaint
Loading time Content
Preferred old site Search
Feedback: the first satisfaction survey
Wasted time waiting for pages to load.
Everything is so slow.
A great step forward, well... maybe even a
leap. I just wish it worked quicker.
It takes me longer to find things.
“Probably just a matter of getting used
to the new layout.
Learnings so far...
Make friends with
your O365 admin
Stay close to other
Check the health
of your AD data
Don’t be too
Learnings so far...
There's more to
how to share
Learnings so far…
A profile photo
is more than just a photo