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

Despite supporting customisation and personalisation, iNet ensures that SMU's various intranet sites are aligned in some ways to support the university's strong corporate identity. According to SMU, the sites in iNet are developed on a mobile-first Bootstrap framework and use standardised grids and templates to ensure consistency in navigation. Styles are effectively cascaded across site collections, and sub-sites, enforcing a uniform presentation across all intranet sites. The corporate typefaces are also applied universally across all pages via the use of an Adobe Typekit font kit.

iNet also helped improve employee satisfaction. For instance, new members of the university can get a checklist of what they need to do on their first day, first week etc. from SMU's HR site. They are also provided an IT welcome kit to get started with the IT services.

Besides that, the intranet provides a 24/7 self-service knowledge base which contains over 400 help articles that allow users to troubleshoot issues on their own. Users can also track the history of submitted cases (i.e. IT problems) and their resolution status online.

To enable collaboration and mobility within the workforce, iNet provides 1TB of online storage from OneDrive for Business which allows users to create, edit, and share documents from any devices, in real-time. iNet also shows details of changes made to a shared online document or webpage to ensure that the information shared is always updated and accurate.  

Key takeaways from the digital transformation experience

Based on his experience of developing iNet, Azhan believes that organisations should apply the agile methodology to their digital transformation efforts.

"The danger [of the waterfall approach] lies in trying to scope out an ambitious wish-list of enhancements and new features all at once, which makes the project span many years. As such, the first deliverables may not be seen within the first six months, which may negatively impact the morale of the project team and the stakeholders as they'll wonder when they'll ever complete the project," he said.

"To counter that, we break the project into manageable chunks that yields tangible benefits, and improve things incrementally but consistently. Since this recipe (i.e. agile methodology) has worked for us, whether it is for the web projects or intranet projects, and we will continue to [use it in our future digital transformation efforts,]" he added.

Even with agile methodology, digital transformation efforts may take some time before producing visible results. As such, Azhan advised IT/project leaders to diligently update the progress of the project to manage stakeholders'/users' expectations. "It is important to combine visually visible and non-visible deliverables in every phase of a project as a way of maintaining perceived progress in the eyes of the stakeholders to continue to rally their support till the end of the project," he said.  

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