Case study: Consolidating to a global intranet

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CASE STUDY: Going from multiple local intranets to one global platform

How DWG helped a large financial institution
build a new user-friendly intranet navigation

Consolidating to one global intranet DWG

THE BUSINESS CHALLENGE

Many intranets make for a fragmented user experience

When it comes to intranets, there can be too much of a good thing. This was certainly the case for the client, which found itself in a situation where the benefits of having an intranet had led to its many departments and geographical locations implementing their own separate platforms.

With the user experience and budget fragmented, the client wanted to embark on a journey that would help it create a one-stop shop, where employees could go for the information they needed for their work. But this wasn’t the only driver. Building a culture of transparency and participation, it wanted to help employees be a part of how it achieved strategic goals and to feel like part of a single community.

Questions the client needed help with answering were:

  • What could it learn from other organizations that had embarked on a similar journey?
  • How could it best work with the large and diverse community of stakeholders needed to make the programme a success?
  • How could it meet the needs of such a large, diverse organization within a single platform?

The client

A global financial institution offering banking services to a broad customer base, comprising individuals, families, small businesses, large corporations, institutions and governments. The client has over 50,000 employees and offers retail and commercial banking services to customers in over
40 countries.


WHY DWG?

User experience skills plus digital workplace leadership

The client needed a partner that not only had strong user experience skills but also understood the wider intranet and digital workplace landscape. With so many stakeholders, it also needed a partner that could help counter debates driven by opinion with hard-and-fast evidence of what had been proven to work elsewhere and of what its employees needed.

We were the perfect match. Our consulting approach is founded in research and we’re vocal advocates of the importance of user-centred design. The client had also previously worked with our usability experts on a separate project and had long been part of our membership community. After having benchmarked its intranet over the years through DWG’s membership arm, this was an exciting opportunity to be involved in helping the client build its new platform.

Overview of DWG

The Digital Workplace Group (DWG) provides large organizations with independent expertise for success with intranets and broader digital workplaces.

Our Member Forum offers confidential peer learning and expert research. Our Benchmarking provides sophisticated evaluations, comparisons and recommendations. Our Consulting Services provide strategic guidance and hands-on implementation support.


OUR APPROACH

Research, insights and hands-on user-centred design

The project was by no means going to be a quick and simple one. We proposed three main phases, which would get the client to a point where all its main stakeholders were on board, and it had a new global information architecture rooted in user research.

  • The first phase would focus on gathering insights from both external case studies and from within the organization. This would help us obtain the information we needed to get started and also ensure that key stakeholders were engaged from the get-go.
  • The second phase would use the findings from “Discovery and Insight”, with our consultants’ analysis, to create both a draft global information architecture and wireframes for key landing pages.
  • Finally, a third phase would see us testing our designs with users and iterating to arrive at final, signed-off navigation and wireframes, ready to hand over to the client’s design agency of choice.
Service What we did
Internal Discovery As we were going to be developing an information architecture and wireframes, it was essential that we carry out extensive user research first.

Our User Researcher and Consultants completed the following:

  • an online survey and interviews of employees
  • task-based user testing of the current navigation
  • a stakeholder workshop
  • a review of key documentation.
External Insight In addition to Internal Discovery, our Lead Researcher conducted case study-based research, demonstrating the impact that “one intranet” can have, as well as other pertinent themes.
Personas Based on the insights revealed during Internal Discovery, our Lead Consultant worked with the client to develop a set of task-based personas.

These are a useful tool for validating designs, and also helping teams and authors understand their audience.

Information Architecture and Wireframes Our Lead Consultant developed primary and secondary level navigation for “one intranet”, as well as wireframes of key landing pages.

The work was based on and validated by a number of methods, including:

  • card sorting
  • tree testing
  • user testing.

The DWG team

Project Manager: Stella Watts, an expert in usability and design, managed the project, looking after communications, timescales and providing guidance and input to our final deliverables.

Lead UX Consultant: Louise Kennedy, who is also a lead usability evaluator for intranet benchmarking, helped shape the approach for the client, as well as design the information architecture and wireframes.

User Researcher: Louise Bloom, who is also a lead usability benchmarker and drives the development of our benchmarking model, carried out user research through interviews, surveys and user testing.

Lead Researcher: Stephen Bynghall, our Research and Knowledge Lead (as well as a consultant and benchmarker), identified clear case studies of how other organizations had gone about bringing many intranets together into a single platform.


THE RESULTS AND OUR IMPACT

One intranet for one company

The client came to us not knowing how it could make its vision of a united platform for all its employees become a reality; it seemed as though there were more local differences than global commonalities. Working together, we were able to show the client, through thorough user research, not only that it was possible, but that its people had more in common with each other than they realized.

The impact included:

  • Impartial, external guidance: It can often be difficult to know what the best way forward for your organization is. Working as a partnership, we gave the the client team a neutral, expert guiding hand to show them which approach was most appropriate for what they wanted to achieve.
  • Bringing stakeholders onboard: Building a global intranet intrinsically means having to work with stakeholders from across your organization. We brought this key group of individuals together so that as a collective they could shape what their intranet could be and understand what it would mean for them and their teams.
  • Identifying commonalities amongst diversity: Multiple intranets within a single organization often emerge as a way of addressing local needs, which aren’t being met elsewhere. We were able to uncover that there were many more commonalities across the client than they expected, with localized needs often coming down to something as simple as different terms for the same things.
  • User-centred debates and design: The wealth of user research we carried out provided an invaluable bedrock for discussions about wireframe and information architecture design with stakeholders. Rather than having to guess what users needed, we had the data to inform design decisions.
  • Tangible outputs for the next phase: The client finished the project with: a clearly researched, tested and documented primary and secondary level global information architecture; wireframes for key landing pages, also researched and tested; and a wealth of research showing precisely what users need from their platform. We were able to brief their chosen design agency on each of these key artefacts, putting the client in a strong position to move on to the next phase of its programme.
RELATED RESEARCH:

User-Centred
Intranet Navigation

User Centered Design for Intranet Navigation - Executive Summary

RELATED APPLICATIONS OF THIS SERVICE

The power of user and external research cannot be underestimated. If your organization is looking to consolidate multiple sites into one, improve your current navigation, or just see the “art of the possible”, the methodology we used for the client can work for you in areas such as:

  • Seeing what other organizations have achieved as inspiration.
  • Creating a platform to help build one company after a merger or acquisition.
  • Combining multiple legacy intranets into a single platform.
  • Identifying common and specialized tasks across your organization to help shape a global information architecture.
  • Testing your current information architecture to identify pain points and improvements.

ABOUT DWG CONSULTING SERVICES

DWG Consulting Services provides vendor-neutral, unbiased and high-quality advice, and practical hands-on support for digital workplace and intranet programmes. This work is rooted in our decade plus of providing measurement and research-driven membership services and our team’s experience of working within large organizations.

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