Completed: June 2009
When Hudson became an independent public company in 2003, it launched a global intranet on a 3rd party CMS dedicated primarily to delivering Company News from the top. In addition, a hastily launched “communities” platform based on WSS 3.0 had shown the company the potential of collaborative technologies to manage projects and encourage user participation. By 2007, much had changed; from user expectations and web technology to Hudson’s own business model and management structure. With this backdrop we embarked on a project to replace Hudson’s Intranet with a modern approach that could meet the current and future business needs of the company.
We wanted to redesign the Intranet with user research at the center of our decision making. So, we began by engaging an ethnographic research firm to help us interview and observe the work habits of a cross-section of our user population from administrators through to VP’s of sales. We found the following user themes:
- I read the news on the homepage, what else is there?
- I’d rather call someone than use the intranet
- I don’t see anything relevant to my job
- It’s easier to find people in Outlook
Using the research and the realities of an obsolete platform with no development support as the business case for proceeding with the project, we began the design process. We partnered with an external agency to augment our internal team for information architecture and wireframes. Only a month after the official release of MOSS 2007, our lead developer built a “Show Car” on a sandbox MOSS server to prove our vision and further refine our requirements. At this point in the middle of 2007, we could point people to the vision, but had huge doubts about our ability to roll the project into our internal infrastructure.
With many web development and business priorities competing for attention through 2007 and 2008 we continued to chip away at the coalition building and hardware investments it would take to make the intranet a reality. During that time our CIO commandeered resources to clean up Active Directory and build out a development, staging, and production environment. At the same time the marketing team worked on final branding templates, content strategy, information architecture and Senior Management buy-in. Site development, including the heroic task of customizing Sharepoint templates, building custom webparts and configuring servers began in October 2008. The end result was a Beta Launch of InSite in June of 2009, 8 months later. We used the following Camtasia Video to communicate the exciting launch of what should prove to be a major leap in productivity for the company.
In the next 2-3 months we expect InSite to come out of beta and be every person’s homepage. After the platform is fully vetted in North America, we plan on deploying the project globally to fully replace the aging current platform.