The complexity of technology in an enterprise creates frustration amongst users. Some of the challenges include limited availability of mobile tools, bad usability, multiple logins, functional overlap of tools, and lack of integration. A digital workplace strategy aims to mitigate these challenges by providing a holistic and people-centric approach to support digital working.
At Intermountain Healthcare, we have been using SharePoint as a platform to provide internal facing tools and resources. We have worked to establish the proper governance of SharePoint, created value by developing many valuable internal facing tools on top of SharePoint, leveraged out of the box features, and customized page templates and master pages to create an engaging user experience.
SharePoint is a very powerful platform that can support many internal needs. At the same time, it can quickly become out of control without proper governance.
Determining which team should own SharePoint can be challenging because there are many departments in the organization that have a vested interest in the operations and strategy of the SharePoint implementation. Effective governance can help answer this question and ensure your intranet implementation is setup for success.
“ Value can be realized by utilizing the many features that are available through SharePoint out of the box or with minimal customization’’
At Intermountain Healthcare, the SharePoint implementation is managed by the eBusiness team in Information System. The eBusiness team manages the custom development, the look and feel, migrations, and works closely with site content owners who contribute content to the site. They also work closely with Human Resources, Communications, Education, and other key stakeholders to establish strategy and direction. Having an effective governance model will help ensure a SharePoint implementation that is driven by strategy and the needs of the business.
One of the pillars to our successful SharePoint implementation is using it as a platform to customize enterprise products. Some of these products include: Intranet—Our corporate intranet is the starting place for many users. When they open a browser, the landing screen is the intranet homepage. This strategy has facilitated effective employee communication and collaboration.
Document Management – We’ve customized a portal specific for managing documents. This portal uses out of the box SharePoint functionality including tagging documents with metadata, versioning, workflows, and advanced permissions.
Team Collaboration – With a geographically and generationally diverse workforce, collaboration has become more important to productivity. To facilitate effective collaboration, we’ve integrated SharePoint and other Microsoft collaboration tools into a cohesive experience. Teams can share calendars and documents in team sites or have group conversations in embedded Yammer groups.
Enterprise Search – Search is one of the most used tools on the intranet. By indexing both SharePoint and third party content repositories, we can bring information to users in a single interface. We’ve optimized search by making use of the content type hub and managed metadata in the term store.
Mobile – To help meet the growing needs of a mobile workforce, we’ve built an internal mobile app. This app isn’t built on SharePoint, but heavily uses our SharePoint environment. We use ADFS authentication, SharePoint services to pull in user profile attributes and surface content stored on our SharePoint sites.
Customizing Out of the Box Features
Too many times, companies look at SharePoint and take it at face value. They look at SharePoint as a place to manage documents, calendars, and task lists. What they’re missing out on is the value that can be realized by utilizing the many features that are available through SharePoint out of the box or with minimal customization. Some of the out of the box features we are utilizing include:
Web Based Forms – Taking advantage of web based forms is a low hanging fruit for any company. Many times, employees are expected to complete a fillable PDF, print a document and return via email or fax, or any other number of inefficient processes. Using a web based form sourced by a SharePoint list is an efficient way to collect information and improve internal processes with minimal development effort.
Reusable Content – One of the ways we’ve empowered site owners to create aesthetically pleasing sites that meet style guide and branding specifications is by using reusable content. Reusable content is a simple SharePoint feature that allows designers to create reusable pieces of HTML and CSS that site content contributors can easily embed in their pages.
Search Results Web Parts – We have used out-of-the-box search results web part to pair content with custom display templates. Utilizing this functionality has decreased our dependence on custom development while providing seamless access to information for users.
Branding and Templates
Using master pages and page templates, we’ve been able to make SharePoint fit our corporate branding guidelines and create an engaging user experience. People are often surprised to see that our intranet is built on top of SharePoint because it “doesn’t look like SharePoint.” By having custom page template, we enable our site contributors to structure their sites to meet their content needs. The page templates are easy for any level of user to understand, so we are able to have many contributors with minimal training or support needs.
Good usability and an engaging user experience are fundamental to the great adoption of SharePoint. We have a team of creative thinkers that doesn’t feel “bound” by the typical SharePoint box. They have been able to ideate cost effective solutions to a wide variety of needs in the company. Some examples of success include:
Wellness Program – We built a gamified tracking system for users to participate in our wellness program. This encourages employees to participate in wellness activities and complete training modules to earn a reward each quarter. The simple user experience and integration of the program into our SharePoint environment has helped provide high participation in the program.
Café Menus – We integrated with a third-party nutrition system to provide quick access to daily menus and nutrition content. Users can view the daily specials as well as the daily offerings from a SharePoint site. Nutrition directors don’t have to manually manage content in two places. They make the updates in the nutrition system and the updates are reflected on the SharePoint site.
Pharmacy Formulary – We combined third-party data from our EMR and content managed in SharePoint by our pharmacy team to create a simple user interface for pharmacists to search to find what drugs are available on our formulary.
By taking a strategic how we’ve implemented and managed SharePoint and focusing on how it can meet company strategy and user needs, we’ve successfully created an implementation that helps offset needs for additional third party products. Our SharePoint implementation has wide adoption in the company because we’ve focused on staying aligned with company strategies while addressing the needs of our end users.