Articles, Digital Workplaces, Internal Communications, Intranet

The Story behind Rijn IJssel's Award Winning Social Intranet

Rijn IJssel has won the Intra.NET Reloaded Berlin award in the category UX Design, personalization and Content Distribution. During the conference (April 18-20) in Berlin they received this prestigious award. Rijn IJssel uses Synigo Pulse as the platform for their Social Intranet, called “Plein”. The Dutch Press article can be read here.
This blog article tells the full story of their successful social intranet.

Make the organization more communicative

The goal of our project was to make the organization more communicative by linking employees and management together. Our old system was a static environment that supplied an overload of information – often dated. Over the past year many (digital) changes have been implemented at Rijn Ijssel. These changes only confused many employees so the assignment was to quickly create a social intranet to provide clarity.
The project group consists of representatives from all layers of the organization. We focused entirely on adoption. Strict management was utilized to achieve these goals so that we were able to go live within 10 weeks. We call our intranet ‘Plein’ (Dutch for Plaza) and it was very well received by the employees. Since going live, all employees have logged in and more than 50% (some 700 employees) make daily use of Plein.

Why did Rijn IJssel initiated a new social intranet?

There was a need to set up the intranet better so that information is easier to find. Instead of hoping that an employee would read it, and a communication resource from the Marketing & Communication department, we wanted to transform the social intranet into a shared knowledge platform where colleagues could share knowledge and competences with each other.

'Action' vision on digital workplace

To realize a more communicative organization, we have transformed our ‘action’ vision into a vision of interaction. In the old action vision, it was mainly about transmitting messages (reach); the old intranet was static and set up according to the formal organizational structure.
The interaction vision especially emphasizes two-way dialog and the significance in internal communication (involvement). The consequence of interaction can be that colleagues and students collectively create (share) information, experience and values. The power of a properly functioning social intranet is that we can find each other regardless of time and place. Not just with formal documents but also for tips & tricks.
Communication is essential: it is the lifeblood of an organization.

To realize a more communicative organization, we have transformed our ‘action’ vision into a vision of interaction. In the old action vision, it was mainly about transmitting messages (reach); the old intranet was static and set up according to the formal organizational structure.
The interaction vision especially emphasizes two-way dialog and the significance in internal communication (involvement). The consequence of interaction can be that colleagues and students collectively create (share) information, experience and values. The power of a properly functioning social intranet is that we can find each other regardless of time and place. Not just with formal documents but also for tips & tricks.
Communication is essential: it is the lifeblood of an organization.

Finding one's way on the social intranet

Plein has been very well received by the employees. Over the past year, they have had to deal with many digital changes. What do we do where? Where do I find what? The arrival of Plein meant overview and clarity. Plein is the starting point of your working day. There, employees and students quickly and easily find the right information and colleagues and go to the underlying systems.
Employees were able to help think of a name for the new intranet. ‘Plein’ emerged as the winner and it has already become a household name.

ROC Rijn IJssel shared a landingpage to explain how their social intranet works
ROC Rijn IJssel shared a landingpage to explain how their social intranet works

In the Knowledge Base app, employees can find all the information they need to know within our organization. The organizational structure has been completely set aside here. Information is presented in a question-answer format, which better suits the search query. Short and sweet instead of reams of text.
Plein’s home page can be personalized by each employee. This substantially limits the overload of news. An employee selects what he or she finds relevant or interesting. By using Microsoft Office Groups it is now possible to easily work together, share documents or knowledge, and conduct group conversations. There is interaction and more involvement.
Plein is 100% webbased, so any place, any time any device.

Project approach social intranet

Many (digital) changes have been implemented at Rijn IJssel over the past year. To provide clarity, the assignment was to quickly create a social intranet. For this reason, the project was split into three different phases:
Phase 1: first working version for employees
Phase 2: continued development + encourage collaboration in groups
Phase 3: students on the Social Intranet + links to external systems
A project group was assembled for the project, with representatives from all levels of the organization – both staff and educational. To make our organization more media-smart, media coaches were deployed. They were closely involved with the launch of Plein. The project group was supported in the adoption and safeguarding by Evolve, an agency that specializes in internal social media.
Project leadership was under the control of both Marketing & Communication and Information Management – a collaboration that is necessary for quick success.
Because Synigo Pulse for Office 365 is a product that was already technically complete, we were able to focus entirely on the layout, content migration and adoption.
Strict management was utilized to achieve these goals so that we were able to go live within 10 weeks. Personal, physical communication was primarily used for the launch campaign, supported with resources to actually help employees find their way.

Doreen Borneman gives training about new social intranet Plein
Doreen Borneman gives training about new social intranet Plein

Communication of the new social intranet

Personal, physical communication was primarily used for the launch campaign, supported with resources to actually help employees find their way. The following means of communication were used.
Personally by the members of the project group:

  • Demos (before going live)
  • Instructional meetings
  • Presentations

Coordinating with existing consultations Supportive:

  • Quick Reference Cards
  • Manuals
  • Videos
  • Posters
  • Newsletter and the previous intranet
  • Article in digital staff magazine Ronduit
Example of manual new social intranet Plein
Example of manual new social intranet Plein

Lessons learned

A good team is key. Our lessons learned of implementing the social intranet are

  • Have a good ICT-M&C collaboration and involve important links in your project group.
  • Approach employees personally.
  • Be VERY selective with content migration.
  • As early as possible, think about who will do content management (after finalization), coordinate with them and their manager (commitment), and then closely involve them.
  • Maintain a strict date on which you will put the old intranet on READ ONLY and don’t work with two systems simultaneously. It’s fine to (temporarily) keep the old system available (as READ ONLY).
  • Patience, patience and more patience. Change doesn’t happen overnight.

Feel free to contact us for any questions or brainstorm.
The Dutch version of the blog article ROC Rijn IJssel wint Intra net award can be downloaded here.
The Dutch Press article can be read here.

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