Don’t call it an IT project! Introduction strategies for the new Linchpin social intranet at enercity AG

Every social intranet project is different. After all, every company has its own custom projects, products, employees, use cases, and requirements. In line with this, the approach used by internal project teams to support and drive the introduction and implementation of a social intranet has to be customized too. As such, first-hand insights into a large-scale intranet implementation can prove particularly interesting and inspiring.

Silke Remmert from enercity gave us an insight into such a process at this year's Atlassian Enterprise Club Day. In her talk, she looked at the way the project team perceived itself, presented the current status of the new system, and reflected on strategic approaches to engage employees.

A collaborative system won't thrive on its own

We have already spoken about why it is not enough to simply drop a collaborative software tool into employees' laps and then wait until they start using it.

Provided your employees are not all tech-savvy, open-minded early adopters, who would accept any new tool with open arms and try it out straight away, the jump-in-the-deep-end approach above would probably cause any social intranet or wiki to fail. The project team at enercity was well aware of this.

A new social intranet for 2,800 employees

The Hannover-based company, enercity AG, implemented an intranet based on Linchpin for its 2,800 employees around nine months ago. This project is part of the company's digitalization strategy. In a world of modern technology, enterprises need to digitalize their internal structures, not just the external ones.

The new social intranet formed an essential part of this strategy. Accordingly, it was approached not as "just another IT project" but an undertaking for the entire organization, and an opportunity to think about how they could bring the system and its users together effectively.

Just nine months after its launch, the preliminary results are certainly favorable. The system – named "enerdigi" – has been open to all users since the end of last year. The users receive continuous support from multipliers from every area of the company, who function as an interface between the project team and the employees. These multipliers are close to the users, teams, and business areas, so they know about their challenges and needs.

Six features for modern collaboration

The enerdigi platform based on Linchpin is made up of six key feature-based components, chosen to promote and drive a new, modern culture of collaboration, communication, and information exchange.

News: There are two levels of company news on the intranet. In a central channel on each user's start page and in the form of personalized space news. All users can like and comment on news items as well as subscribing to news channels they're particularly interested in.

User profile: Intranet profiles promote networking among employees (across departments) and enable employees to find specialist contacts and experts on different topics within the company. 

Wikis (based on Confluence spaces): These are the locations in which employees can collaborate on content, and they are visible to everyone. Each organizational unit is automatically provided with a corresponding intranet space. Individual spaces can also be set up for specific projects and workgroups.

Questions & answers:  This section holds an variety of information organized by topic. All users can ask and answer questions, across the entire company. This feature is based on Confluence Questions.

Microblog: Intranet microblogs have been created to provide a communication channel that is similar to social media and structured by topic. This way, information can reach those it is intended for without disturbing others. There are also plans to integrate a real-time messenger in the future.

Surveys: This feature is useful for asking employees across the company for their opinion on different topics using multiple-choice surveys. An analysis of the results can be viewed directly. Furthermore, the feature can be used to find dates and times for events or meetings (using the Doodle integration).

User engagement within a diverse community

Throughout the entire project, the enerdigi team assigned one key success factor the highest priority: user engagement. This has been a complex challenge for enercity. The employee community is a very diverse group made up of people with a broad spectrum of experience, expectations, and needs, as well as a varying degree of affinity towards digital media.

For this reason, employee training and communication across several levels formed the main pillars of the introduction strategy. This was done in three stages, each with a specific approach – before the rollout, simultaneous to the launch, and post-launch. In her talk, Silke presented a selection steps and actions that were taken by the enerdigi team:

Before the rollout:

  • The intranet team established a test platform for stakeholders and interested employees at an early stage to generate feedback and train multipliers. They were then able to present and communicate the newest developments in the project to their groups on a regular basis.
  • A company-wide naming contest meant that the name quickly became established among the staff as well as serving to promote the intranet throughout the company.
  • A practice workshop is run regularly for multipliers and early users to work through questions and short practice exercises, learn in a group context, and exchange information and ideas.
  • In special training sessions, multipliers have the opportunity to become familiar with the features and options for collaboration on content within the digital workspaces.
  • Advanced training was also offered in the form of webinars to deepen knowledge and understanding of specific tools (e.g., macros).
  • The intranet team also drew up a digital reference book. "enerdigi help" provides orientation and also serves as a handbook with tutorials, explanations, and screenshots.
  • Just before the launch, all of the company's buildings were adorned with spray glue graffiti to catch employees' attention and awaken their curiosity. This proved to be a very effective means of communication.

At launch:

  • The migration of the existing wiki content had already been completed, including quality assurance checks.
  • The project team had prepared an array of intranet content so that users wouldn't start out using an empty platform. This way, news with tips, links and other information was ready for broadcast at launch.
  • Thanks to the great logistical efforts of the intranet team, each employee was equipped with a starter kit made up of a brochure with the first steps and basic functions, post-its, and some sweet treats inside.
  • In the initial days following the launch, the team organized a tour and set up an information stand in several of the enercity offices to inform employees about the new system. A photo booth provided employees with the opportunity to take some spontaneous snapshots, which they could then use as their profile pictures on the intranet. This created a bridge from the offline world to their digital user experience.

Post-launch to present:

  • A workshop series called "enerdigi & wir" (enerdigi & us) was created to further support user engagement with the new system. This series focuses on work in the team spaces as well as concrete use cases on the intranet that are relevant to the respective teams. This is intended to encourage people to find additional helpful and effective use cases for the intranet.
  • The project team continues to offer wiki seminars and webinars on three levels – for beginner, advanced, and power users.
  • The team also organizes informal brown-bag meetings. In a casual atmosphere, teams can exchange ideas and learn about how other teams, groups, organizational units are using the intranet and which other use cases could be relevant for them.
  • In terms of communications, the project team publishes regular blog posts and news campaigns on the intranet covering a wide range of topics with information, tips, user interviews, and other content.

Conclusion: The project team's perspective

When closing her talk, Silke concluded with a few remarks about the enerdigi project and outlined several concrete things the team has learned from their experience:

  • You're already on the right path when the team is 100% behind the project and the new system.
  • In enercity's case, providing "tools for everyone" and covering as many use cases as possible proved to be the right approach. This ensured that the varying needs within the diverse community were taken into account and that the focus was always on the user.
  • It is crucial that members of the project team in particular, pave the way and use the intranet consistently. This way, the use of the intranet becomes habituated within the company, and the users learn to recognize beneficial use cases.
  • Multipliers are incredibly valuable. It is worth investing time and effort into finding and holding on to enthusiastic colleagues. The challenge is, how can you ensure that they are granted the time they need for their additional role as a multiplier?
  • In a company-wide project that affects all areas of the company, it is particularly important to get the managers and leaders on board and make them enthusiastic about the project.
  • A social intranet requires a great deal of time and effort, especially in a large company that is still growing. The project team is continuously challenged to establish a positive cultural shift.

Social intranets with Linchpin: Find out more and test for free!

Linchpin is a sophisticated solution that transforms Confluence into a fully-fledged social intranet. Do you want to find out more? We'd be happy to discuss your needs and use cases and invite you to take part in a demonstration. You can find more information about the features, benefits, and pricing on the Linchpin website. Or, why not have a look at what Linchpin can do in a pre-configured system? Our open demonstration instance is available at any time and is a great way to get a first impression.

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Further information

The advantages of the Linchpin Intranet Suite
Linchpin: Onboarding and Assistant features to help you start using your Confluence-based intranet
Linchpin Mobile: Take your Confluence intranet to the next level
Linchpin Intranet Suite 1.1: Many new features and options for Confluence-based intranets

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