The Friesland Health Insurer on how to implement a new social intranet in four weeks

In the first part, you read how the social intranet is the business strategy by De Friesland Health Insurer strengthened. In this second part (2), we will discuss how De Friesland implemented a new social intranet in a Microsoft-driven organization in four weeks, what the success factors and learning points are and what plans there are to achieve the organizational goals for 2020. We'll continue talking to Frank, Jenny and Dolon.

The launch campaign of De Friesland Health Insurer's new intranet 'Frits'

How did you implement a new social intranet in four weeks?

Think big, act small

“From the”think big, act small” principle, we decided to implement the intranet in phases. We come from a culture where everything is first thought out from A to Z and that is then delivered to IT in a block of precise instructions. That culture is changing quite a bit. Not only in our organization, but also in the world around us. So in that context, we opted for phasing. We wanted to start small and let people join in bit by bit. An advantage of this is that you quickly have something to show the organization, making the importance of extra functionalities easier to “sell”. Moreover, if you're going to figure out how you want it from A-Z in six months, you can change A again by the time you think it's out of date.”


“Last year, we wanted to talk to employees about the course to take for the coming years: Strategy2020. We wanted to take up this initiative quickly. To strengthen the offline sessions, we then wanted to continue discussing online via an E-platform. Then it soon emerged that Microsoft could not deliver such a platform in a few weeks. We then started a pilot with Embrace. The infographic, created by product manager Remco Rispens (Embrace), showed that our employees used the intranet easily. That was a sign for Corporate Communication to continue with the platform.”

In May, De Friesland Zorgverzekeraar gave a glimpse into the kitchen of their new intranet

Three project phases:
Phase 1

Talking to key players

“Phase 1 was four weeks of hard work. Pleuni Boelaars, Embrace consultant, was with us 2 to 3 days a week. IT, Corporate Communication and Pleuni worked intensively together to set up the platform. During this phase, we talked to key players: people or departments that stood out in the statistics of the old intranet. For example, the weekly menu is number 1 among the most viewed items. We therefore spoke to the restaurant manager about the best way to transfer the menu. We've given the menu a different look and it looks better now. The service desk also plays an important role in the online environment. Ultimately, the platform also takes work off their hands.”

Focus on setting up the platform

“Because we had first run a pilot, the technical side was already largely there. That is why, in the first phase, we were able to fully focus on the furnishing issue. In those four weeks, we looked for ambassadors and held sessions with them. We gave community management sessions. And we also asked many people about their wishes and enthused them. As a result, you now see an oil slick on Frits (the name of the social intranet): there are more and more new colleagues who also post a message, ask questions, fill profiles, et cetera”

Screenshot of Frits, De Friesland Health Insurer's social intranet

Slowly switch to the new intranet

“We also set up the environment and provided a number of basic functionalities. The aim of the first phase was to replace the front page of the old intranet with Frits. Now, when you open your browser, you'll see Frits on the first tab and the old intranet on the second tab.” Want to know more about what an intranet can do for companies? Then go to Embrace Business or download the ebook 'Digital workplace for professionals' for free

Phase 2

Transferring content

“We've been live with Frits since March 2. People post a lot of work-related posts or questions about using Frits. The possibilities to add more functionalities are also being asked. We are slowly disabling a number of functionalities on the old intranet, such as agenda, controlled content, Twitter feed and the application list with which applications we use internally. All these functionalities can now be found on Frits. In addition, the focus of phase two is on content migration. To do this, we work with various departments. Phase three runs parallel to phase two.”

Phase 3

Using the Knowledge Connector

“As discussed in the first part, we are integrating the Knowledge Connector into our business processes. If you want a feature to actually be used, it is also necessary to link it to your processes. Technically, the Knowledge Connector can be turned on at any time, but we just want to wait until we have identified how, where and when we will use it.”

Office 365

“In phase three, we are also looking at what we will do with the Office365 connection. Together with Embrace, we are thinking about how we can further implement this within De Friesland.”

Remote hosting

“If you look at the goals in Strategy 2020, we have already largely achieved them. We are in dialogue with each other, we have a social intranet and we are constantly expanding. In the future, we want to work more with partners such as municipalities or healthcare partners. Now, Frits can only be reached internally. If we also want to reach the platform externally, we have to meet the conditions of De Nederlandsche Bank. Because this procedure takes a long time, we chose to host the intranet in-house first. We are now working on the procedure, so that we can ultimately also easily collaborate with external parties and consult Frits at home on the couch.”

Success factors

From strategy to technology

“One of the biggest success factors of this project is that we went from strategy to technology. That we linked functionalities to organizational goals and that we were therefore able to demonstrate that the social intranet suits us. Furthermore, the supplier has contributed well in all facets, not just in technology. That was certainly an added value.”

Director role

“Another aspect of success is being the driver exemplary role: pack. He takes the initiative himself, is enthusiastic about the platform and therefore likes to use it. For example, he posts a message every day about his activities that day and writes in understandable language: I went there and spoke to them. As a result, you know what you're doing and what's on your mind about each other. That lowers the threshold for other employees to post something.”

What is the role of the director on the social intranet?

Switch quickly and decide quickly

“In the first phase, we worked in a small team (Jenny from Corporate Communication, Dolon from IT and Pleuni from Embrace). Because we were able to switch quickly, we also achieved quick results. That is a big advantage. The steps you take are also immediately visible. An additional advantage was that the project had a high priority due to time pressure. As a result, decisions were made quickly.”

Learning points

Community Management

“Beforehand, we appointed people who would be involved in community management. Because we have not made clear agreements about this, Jenny and I are more concerned with community management than we had estimated. That stands in the way of phase two at the moment. So one learning point is that we should have thought more carefully about the organization of community management beforehand. We also notice that the ambassadors need to play their role even more. Now, for example, they're not yet approaching people about filling out their profiles.”

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