Case of trophies
A focus on the employees who use the intranet made FOA Net the winner in this year's Danish Intranet Prize PHOTO: David Flores

Employees are the ultimate judges of intranet or digital workplace success. 

You can have amazing design, innovative features and cutting-edge content, but if your users aren’t engaged or adoption is very low, your intranet isn’t really a success.

Satisfied Users, The Best Sign of Intranet Success

A number of intranet and digital workplace awards provide a great deal of value for the broader community. Of these competitions, the Danish Intranet Prize, presented annually at the IntraTeam conference in Copenhagen, Denmark is unusual in that it is based mainly on the opinion of users rather than of judges.  

IntraTeam run a free self-completed benchmarking survey, and then validates the results through an additional evaluation. The winner of the competition is the organization with the most satisfied users.

Winning the satisfaction and the trust of users is not always easy — and it doesn’t happen overnight. Adoption often spikes after launch, but then requires a sustained effort to keep your metrics going north. A combination of user-centered and intuitive design, good findability, high quality relevant content and change management can make or break these efforts.

FOA took the prize this year. Its intranet team and the team behind last year’s winner Realdania, both worked tirelessly to build the trust and support of employees using their intranets. 

IntraTeam's benchmarking process resulted in a recorded satisfaction rate of 83 percent for FOA users. Strong areas recorded included search, ease of uncovering details about colleagues, up to date content and the presence of all necessary relevant information on the intranet.

About FOA NET

FOA is a Danish Trade Union which serves 182,000 members, offering legal help and expert advice about working conditions. Its 1,400 employees are spread over 45 separate locations, making communication a challenge. 

The company launched its new intranet, FOA NET, in April 2015 and it has transformed communication in the organization. The intranet is based on SharePoint 2013 with the Wizdom “intranet-in-a-box” product layer on top. 

The overall objective of the intranet is to support operations involving members of the trade union, drive efficiency, enable collaboration and encourage knowledge sharing.

A Focus on Ease of Use

As the intranet team put it, “SharePoint is like a jet plane, but our users have only just started cycling.” So they decided to focus on a simple but effective user experience.

This meant deriving a user-centered information architecture through numerous card-sorting sessions, while running other workshops to articulate the specialist requirements of case workers and local branches. Local editors also received training on how to use SharePoint, as well as how to structure and write content. 

The team created a more relevant search experience by making the main search return only global content. More specialist searches, such as project spaces, can be carried out in relevant sections of the site or from the advanced search page.  

The homepage is straightforward with news and a central column for news. Other widgets feature alerts, promotional items, search features and more:

FOA Net intranet home page

A Focus on Relevance

While providing an effective channel for internal communications, the intranet is also focused on helping employees get their work done. 

The homepage includes links to the most popular systems, such as the member database and the time registration system. More operational announcements and alerts are targeted to different groups including case workers, those dealing with unemployment insurance and those located at the FOA headquarters. 

The intranet contains a special section for case workers, with a structure which mimics the workflow from when a case is recorded. This means case workers have all the information and documents they need to follow a case through its entire lifecycle. 

A separate project section links through to any project site an individual has access to, as well as all of the relevant documents. 

Fostering Connections

Features geared to help connect colleagues to each other also feature prominently. One web part is called “Who Can Help,” where employees can search through the organizational structure to discover who can best handle specific questions and topics.

Within the people directory, (the most visited area of the intranet apart from the homepage) there are also presence indicators which reflect individual’s availability based on their Outlook calendar. Manual status updates can also be displayed. In this way, you let people know if you are sick or on annual leave.

The status indicator in FOA Net
The status indicator in FOA Net

A Plan for Sustained Change Management

The team made a sustained change management effort, both during the build and after, which played a big part in the intranet's success. 

Intranet manager Andreas Engbo explains, 

“During the project phase we made sure we got a broad section of the organization involved. We also frequently made status presentations at management conferences as well as news updates on the old intranet, so everyone was aware that a new intranet was coming. When we were on the verge of launching, we had promotional posters and sheets with user tips printed and sent to all units and departments. We launched in April and went on a promotional tour, consisting of a one hour presentation of FOA NET. We also frequently fill the newsfeed with user tips and links to user guides.” 

Meanwhile a fresh road tour looking at more in-depth features is planned. It will provide the team a chance to receive valuable user feedback from local branches.

It’s All About Providing Value

Ultimately the team at FOA created a solid, relevant, helpful and easy to use intranet. They achieved this with continuous effort — rather than any magic ingredient — increasing the trust of users and driving high satisfaction rates. 

The team see the prize as a validation of their work and approach.  

Intranet manager Andreas Engbo reflects on winning and being benchmarked, “It has been an enlightening process and made us reflect on the work we do, but also on the areas we can do better! It’s been a great boost for our confidence!”