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Case Study: Leveraging Office 365 and The Cloud to Enable Global Collaboration

Learn how a global, nonprofit health organization streamlined collaboration, improved governance and saved money with Office 365 and The Cloud.

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Executive Summary

A global, nonprofit health organization was struggling to keep its employees engaged, effectively collaborating and up-to-date with company operations. Its highly customized intranet was practically inaccessible to international employees, restricting collaboration and overall usability. Withum’s digital team provided a solution using Office 365 and Microsoft Cloud solutions. Through agile implementation, personalization and custom additions, along with governance and training, Withum delivered a solution that improved communication and collaboration between employees across the globe.

The Client

The client is a global, nonprofit health organization affiliated with Johns Hopkins University whose mission is to improve the overall health of both women and families in developing countries. Operations span across the globe, with a majority of employees sitting outside of the U.S.

The Challenge

The client’s existing SharePoint intranet, designed at their U.S. headquarters, was a highly customized on-premise solution with a lack of governance. With approximately 400 U.S.-based users and nearly 3,000 international users, slow network speeds made their intranet extremely hard to access remotely, rendering it useless for roughly 90% of users.

Eventually, the client’s workaround for file sharing and collaboration solutions grew out of control, resulting in:

  • The need for various tools to accomplish similar objectives.
  • Unnecessary and uncontrolled costs.
  • Long, complicated workflows for simple tasks

The Approach and Solution

The client needed a comprehensive solution that could cut costs and tool complexity while improving and optimizing internal and external collaboration. They required a solution that was fast, accessible and allowed device independence.

Through over 50 interviews, individual meetings with leadership, a governance workshop, a design workshop, and an internal survey to understand the culture, pain points and organizational needs, the Withum team delivered:

  • An Office 365 integration with a SharePoint Online Intranet complete with Yammer.
  • A file-sharing tool consolidation (Dropbox, Azure file share, on-premise solutions, etc.).
  • An employee directory with profiles and data consolidation.
  • Automated and streamlined corporate communications via SharePoint Customization.
  • Content management and personalization based on user profiles and languages.
  • Recommendations for reporting and analytics tools.

Agile Implementation

After the discovery and design workshops, Withum implemented a lightweight solution with optimal speed performance, tying in various elements of Office 365 workloads. Upon receipt of feedback and growing needs, Withum built out a more robust platform and rolled out changes in real-time. This incremental roll-out approach allowed the client’s team to experiment with the solution and provide feedback throughout the project to customize it to their needs.

Personalization and Custom Additions

Microsoft is constantly releasing updates to Office 365, which allowed the client to keep their solution as close to an out-of-the-box solution as possible. However, certain personalizations were important to them. To meet their needs, Withum customized the following:

  • Personalized Corporate Communication – When someone accesses their intranet, users see the information most relevant to them. The content is based on the user’s profile and shows news and announcements for staff based on their location, team and other variables.
  • Local News and Insights – If a user is on a particular country’s site, they see things like the local airport, things to do in the area, directions to certain places and more.
  • Content Translation – this widget allows contributors to produce a piece of content in their native language, and then utilize a Google translate integration to recreate it in multiple languages, saving the content team time and resources.
  • Advertising space – they wanted an ad space where they could promote various fundraisers, so we provided a widget that included the functionality for users to donate to fundraisers through their intranet portal.

Governance and Training

The client already had a framework for governance, but they needed help with implementation, training, and guidance based on the various aspects of Office 365 and SharePoint Online. For instance, with their previous solution, there were often multiple versions of the same file floating around. Withum created a custom workflow where only one up-to-date file was accessible to all employees. The workflow allows an author to sign off on a particular file which they send to a knowledge manager. The knowledge manager reads, approves and sends it to the library for everyone to access.

In addition to creating a workflow for deduplicating and managing content storage, the client received reference materials and training guides to keep subsequent workflows consistent. The team also designed governance and help site for the client’s colleagues to get training on specific topics: how to create a page, how to request a site, the roles and responsibilities of site owners, when to use SharePoint Online vs Teams vs Yammer, and other useful information. Adoption and consistency can be the toughest hurdles, which is why it is important that internal resources are provided.

The Results

Within one year of the live intranet, the feedback was unanimously positive. As a global organization, communication and performance are critical. The client is now able to communicate via the new intranet, which is the hub for communication all over the continent. Employees have insights into happenings throughout the company and their specific locations.

Their team has access to a modern and intuitive intranet, fueling organic knowledge-sharing and encouraging person-to-person connections across the organization. Knowledge experts are more visible, and it’s easier for people to connect with them. There are also many avenues for publicly recognizing employees for living out an organization’s values by sharing articles relevant to the industry and asking employees to share their personal experiences.

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