The end of September saw the quarterly get-together of GovIntranet Club members. This time it was hosted by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), at the same venue where the original Whitehall intranet club meetings started, six years ago:
— Steph Gray (@lesteph) February 25, 2010
The GovIntranet Club meetings are a chance for intranet managers and internal comms teams to compare and contrast their intranets and to find out about new developments in the GovIntranet theme. It’s gone from an informal chit-chat around the office kitchen table to a more structured agenda of member showcases, external guest presentations and a spotlight on examples from the field.
- Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency,
- Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (former BIS and DECC),
- Department for Culture, Media and Sport,
- Department for Communities and Local Government,
- and the new Department for Exiting the European Union.
I’m thrilled to be supporting the team on the new Brexit intranet. Apparently, Helpful Technology is the first company procured to provide services via the G-Cloud for the new department. Good to know that the intranet is high on the list of priorities for the internal comms team as this new department organises itself and gets down to business. The intranet will initially act as the go-to place for information as new staff in London and Brussels join the developing department. There are plans to develop the mobile features of the platform. And yes, there are already nicknames flying around; The Outranet, Dexter, The Brextranet…
We heard how the team at BEIS have been managing the merger of BIS and DECC, creating a new intranet during the period of transition and keeping staff abreast of news and changes. Flexible templates in the theme have allowed administrators to sculpt and mold new pages, and I’ve been watching the design and layout of this new intranet change almost daily over the past months.
Katy Gibbins, from Internal Communication at DCMS, walked us through how the DCMS intranet operates today. The staff directory is the killer app for this department, with staff profiles tightly integrated into forums, comments and blog posts. A recent addition to the intranet is the Honours Wall, where members of staff can post praise for individuals, teams or themselves. New honours are highlighted on the homepage and posts on the wall are aligned to departmental objectives. The internal comms team have also been supervising corporate content rewrites over the past year, ensuring that the quality of content is maintained.
Internal comms teams have been ramping up for the Civil Service People Survey 2016, planning their campaigns until the survey closes at the end of the month. DCMS set a high bar for participation rates last year and are hoping to break their own record this year.
Several departments have a weekly news item that wraps up a weekly board meeting or an all-staff stand up meeting. I’ve spotted a few instances of memes creeping into the featured images for these types of news articles, following the same theme each week, for example, snapshots of lego figures against a backdrop of staff at their desks, or meerkats or kittens.
We held a Hangout with three organisations who have setup their own WordPress installations using GovIntranet to implement intranets, extranets and public websites.
Bella Strömhielm from Zoona in South Africa showcased their intranet which has been spiced up with BuddyPress and bbPress, helping staff who work across different countries to connect and stay in touch. They wanted a theme that worked well with lower bandwidths and which didn’t force an image-heavy, graphic interface.
Benedikt Wirmer from StudyPortals in The Netherlands told us how this fast-growing startup had hit the point where they needed an intranet and how they have saved costs using open source software.
David Butt from Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council in the UK has been using the theme for numerous sites including intranets for the council, public websites and intranets for schools, embracing open source and making big savings for the council compared to the monthly fees for typical out-of-the-box, cloud sites for schools.
The session ended with a preview of what’s bubbling away in development, and a “bloopers” section highlighting intranet naughties reported by the intranet police.
I’m already seeing results of advice and tips that people have taken away and started to implement. Some nice progress bars showing people survey response rates. Some neat Bootstrap integrations as teams build their own custom pages with tabs and buttons.
This open sharing and gentle competition across departments makes things better. After nearly four years in development, it feels that we’ve reached a tipping point with GovIntranet, shifting from “what can the theme do?” to “what do you do with the theme?”