Intranetters VIII: The Crown Estate, UK Parliament and GE Healthcare

Published by Richard Hare on

A wide-ranging session in prospect this afternoon with demonstrations of intranets from The Crown Estate, UK Parliament and GE Healthcare.

The Crown Estate

After a brief welcome, Rod McLean kicks off with The Crown Estate’s intranet which serves 400 mostly London-based people, a mixture of lawyers, foresters and gamekeepers, many without access to a computer.

In dispersed organisations the challenge for communication is that no single channel reaches everyone. The intranet is currently seen as an internal communications tool, but the organisation is asking whether it can be more, but with no intranet manager, there is a lack of vision when it comes to answering these questions.

The design is attractive. Rod points out a couple of quirks: the navigation appears above the banner, and the logo is positioned top-right. Most people currently use the intranet as a portal to access other systems through the links section and the most popular area is the menu for the cafe. A review is imminent and the next stage is evaluating the analytics in greater detail to find out which areas people find most valuable.

UK Parliament

Sharon O’Dea begins by explaining some of the mind-boggling challenges faced by the UK Parliament intranet. It’s a complex organisation, historically paper-based with strict rules about who can communication with whom. The two houses and support staff total around 5,000 users: a mixture of MPs, staff and interns.

Having already merged eight existing intranets built in Dreamweaver and migrated to EPiServer CMS, the announcement of the 2010 election signalled a different challenge. It was around this point where I stopped taking notes and pictures because I was so intent on the story. Anticipating lots of change, many new people and a more tech-savvy audience, they identified the information new members needed and chose to offered it through mobile phones.

The result is impressive: simple screens delivering the right information to the right people in the right place at the right time on different devices.

The next challenge Sharon and her team face is to move HR self service to the intranet.

GE Healthcare

Christine Payne rounds off the afternoon with GE Healthcare’s intranet. Founded in 1878 by Thomas Edison, General Electric has 46,000 employees worldwide.

In common with many large corporates, the intranet is based on a common platform provided by the parent company.

A sophisticated system targets stories using mailing lists. “My Links” are customisable, although Christine admits they ditched portlets “because no one used them”. News and links are tailored to individual users, though alternative settings are selectable. Staff are encouraged to leave comments and HR leaders take notice of feedback and have a policy of responding.

Having wrestled with different ways of presenting search options on the homepage, I also notice users have to select between the organisation and people directory when searching.

We rounded off with a discussion on the role of innovation and then retired to the bar for food and drink kindly sponsored by The Crown Estate.

Thanks to Rod for hosting and securing a budget for drinks!

Categories: Intranet

1 Comment

Intranetters XI: Romec and Field Fisher Waterhouse | Is This Wisdom? · October 14, 2011 at 11:02 pm

[…] final Intranetters of 2011 is full to bursting, with plenty of new faces. Our last visit to The Crown Estate was excellent though we’re not here to see their intranet today. Instead Romec and Field […]

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