Insite de gemeente Nijmegen: read more about the social intranet here!

In this interview, Ingrid Ensing, senior strategic advisor Innovation Lab, explains how the social intranet helped them transform from an official organization into a network organization.

Branch: Government
Staff: 1500+
Intranet since: 2013

Why did you choose a social intranet?

We started a social intranet for a number of reasons, first of all for a few very practical reasons. Due to budget cuts, we said goodbye to our paper staff magazine. That's why we were looking for a medium where we could share more information.

No interaction possible on the old intranet

In addition, the intranet we had was quite out of date. There was no interaction possible on our intranet; the intranet gradually needed to be replaced. We also thought that it would also be less of a step for our employees to start using external social media if they have already gained experience using internal social media.

Finally, our organization wants to facilitate that employees work independently of place, time and travel. For these reasons above, we have chosen to implement a social intranet. Do you recognize these reasons and are you curious about what a social intranet can do for your organization? Read all about it: 7 steps to a successful social intranet.

Decision making took a long time

It did take a while before we were actually able to get started. Decision-making took a long time. This was due to cuts and also because a social intranet is something new. The project itself only lasted a total of 3.5 months.

How did you do the implementation?

From the start, we involved the organization in the development of the new intranet. We ourselves approached a number of people and asked if they wanted to contribute ideas, and people could also sign up for this. That's how we got a total of 80 core users. In addition, all project documentation has been shared with the entire organization.

Organization always involved

We also involved the entire organization in coming up with a name for our intranet. There were a total of approximately 20-30 entries, together we chose the name “Insite”. A colleague designed the logo, and there is also a separate team on the intranet with photography enthusiasts and we get a new header photo from this team every month. So the intranet really belongs to everyone.

Old intranet content not included

Of course, our old intranet had a lot of content. We communicated from the start that this content was not transferred to the new intranet. The exception was the content of the staff departments (P&O, Communication, ICT, Facility), and we looked at how we gave it a central place and that's why we finally set up the 'Direct Control' entrance.

Core users

We trained the 80 core users how to use the system. This happened two weeks before going live in groups of 10-15 core users. In the two weeks before going live, these core users took over some content to certain teams. There is also its own team of core users, where the core users give each other tips.

We did not announce the new intranet separately via non-digital means. However, we have arranged it so that every employee starts automatically with the intranet.

How did the employees react?

The reactions of the employees were very mixed. There are people who love it, but there are also people who post a message saying that they don't know how it works at all! We haven't been online very long, but we already see that many teams are being created and that quite a few people are working with them. What people sometimes have to get used to is using the search box instead of traditional navigation. At home, they do this on Google, but at work, they are still used to the navigation structure they were used to on the old intranet.

Environmental administrators

When people have questions, the environment managers provide answers. There are a total of six environmental managers. But even if we see someone putting something for sale on the homepage instead of on the message board, we'll comment on how they can do this from now on. If we see that a question is common, we publish a tip for the entire organization. But in fact, we often see, from day 1, that employees are already giving each other answers. That is really nice to see.

What does it bring to the organization?

We've been online for a short time yet to really be able to say very concrete things about that. But I expect the organization to become more transparent and less hierarchical. And I hope that our employees will also communicate a bit more to the outside world, that the step to use external social media will also be a bit smaller and that we will thus talk more with the residents of the municipality.

What is your tip for other organizations about what not to do?

Do not include content

They shouldn't take over all the old content. You then immediately have extra lead time. We have said clearly from the start, we are not doing this. There has also been no resistance. It is everyone's responsibility to put their own content on the intranet. But as a project group, we have not arranged this.

Let it go

You don't have to make a huge number of rules when using the intranet. For example, rules about when you can and cannot create a team. Let it go. Give people as much responsibility as possible and have confidence in their own employees.

Not 100% usage

Finally, you shouldn't want everyone to work equally with the intranet beforehand. There are people who immediately click away from the intranet in the morning, or who only occasionally read a news story or arrange a meeting room and don't want to work together in teams. That's fine, isn't it?

I think it's important to say that nothing is necessary, but anything can be done. Sooner or later, everyone will watch. For example, meeting rooms, which can only be arranged via the intranet. The intranet is also the starting point for your working day with an overview of all the applications used.

What is your tip for other organizations about what they should do?

It's coming: let it go. Make sure you support people with the tools, but don't force them to start using them.

Involve employees as much as possible

In addition, involve people as much as possible in the new intranet. There are lots of ways to get people involved, even small things. For example, to ask employees to provide a nice header photo, with the most beautiful one posted at the launch. Then it will also live. These kinds of things do not slow down the project, but they do help to tackle it as a joint project. After all, to create a vibrant platform, support is needed and everyone must feel at home in it. Download the free ebook here and learn how to build a successful social intranet in 7 steps.

Share with colleagues as much as possible

After all, I really shared everything with the employees. Everyone had access to all documents, project reports, etc. The launch went unexpectedly very different than planned due to performance issues on our server. As a result, we went live two weeks later than planned. Afterwards, that actually worked very positively. The link had already been shared, but we have temporarily removed the automatic start of the intranet.

Nevertheless, people started using the intranet in advance, which was very nice to see. We also had no negative reactions that it was postponed, but rather very positive reactions: “what a shame, you worked so hard on it”. I think that's because we've involved people so much from the start.

Do you have any plans for the future?

We started in a very short process with minimal functionalities to get people used to the system. But also because otherwise you won't see the forest for the trees, as far as the project is concerned. People also said I was crazy with the short lead time. But this short lead time ensures that you also keep the energy in the project and that you can show things quickly. There is no time for discussion, we're just going to do it.

Expand further with links

In the future, we want to expand further with links. We now have links to various applications, and we would like to further integrate them so that the intranet becomes even more the start of your working day. The intranet is already accessible from external locations, we want as many applications as possible to be accessible as well. In addition, we want to expand with a link to a document management system so that you can also archive documents.

We collect complaints and wishes from everyone. The environment managers scour the intranet to see all the comments there are. In a while, we will see if these wishes still exist or whether it's due to getting used to the new system. Then we will see what we can and want to achieve.

This case was first published on 23-04-2014

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