Revamping an ageing intranet to better support the digital workforce

By transforming its decade-old intranet in an agile manner, SMU is able to better address the changing needs and demands of its employees.

By Adrian M. Reodique
July 18, 2016

The second phase of the project saw the creation of more than 40 publishing, collaborative and reference sites for the entire university; the building of a mobile responsive portal and customisable portal; and adoption of Single Sign On for its e-services to deliver a seamless authentication experience between its enterprise systems and iNet.

The last phase of the project saw SMU working together with a vendor to build the university's capability for disaster recovery of iNet SharePoint by using the Microsoft Azure cloud. By having an active-pass deployment of the databases and a log-shipping method of ensuring content is synchronised between the on-premise database and the ones in the cloud, the university is able to switch to an off-site intranet within 30 minutes, according to SMU.

The new face of SMU's intranet

According to the project manager of iNet -- Muhammad Nurazhan Bin Moin (also known as 'Azhan' to his peers), Senior Manager of Web & Media Technologies, Integrated Information Technology Services in SMU, iNet served as a catalyst to develop and improve other systems in the university. "New workflows are built around the new iNet platform, while old workflows and systems are revamped and improved. In fact, the iNet project triggered the massive side project to build single sign-on across all our intranet applications."

It is hoped that the new workflow and features from iNet will "help administrative and academic support staff better support SMU's academic efforts" to positively affect the quality of education, he added.

Since its official launch on 5 May 2015, iNet has been used by 97 percent of SMU's faculty and staff.

In line with its first objective of ensuring that content can be easily found, iNet's search feature narrows down results quickly by its type, location, taxonomy term or by data. It also allows users to preview the document by automatically providing a summary of it.

In terms of delivering an enjoyable user experience, iNet allows users to 'pin' their favourite or most used e-services and add bookmarks to their home screen. They can also personalise their homepage by choosing the sections they want and re-arrange them according to their preference. Additionally, users can customise the user interface of the intranet by applying their preferred theme out of the 23 provided variations, and use their own pictures as the background for the platform. Since iNet went live, more than 786 separate user customisations in app selection, theme and bookmarks - which represents about 70 percent of the faculty and staff population - have been made, according to SMU.

The university also equipped the iNet with analytics to help them gain insights on how users are interacting with the content, the duration spent across the different site collections, and to identify the most popular e-services. The generated insights will help them plan for the upcoming refinements, said SMU.

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