“With a tight budget and limited resources, using Cloud2 meant quick turnaround and fast installation. That saved us the time and money that would have gone on an in-house development team”
Frustrated staff at the North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust had almost abandoned their intranet entirely. Now, they have a user-friendly solution that consistently serves up relevant, uniform and up-to-date information – saving precious staff hours and improving patient care.
Spread across 70 physical locations, the North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust employs a lot of people in a lot of places. And, given the Trust’s role in caring for the mentally unwell, staff in all locations need access to relevant, uniform and up-to-date information.
But communicating wasn’t easy. Instead of aiding the timely distribution of information, two separate and antiquated intranets (used by different parts of the organisations) were actually hindering communication and collaboration within the Trust.
The digital policies were difficult to find and a struggle to keep updated, the staff directory was unusable and the intranet’s search function was fundamentally flawed. In fact, things had become so bad that staff had reverted to offline communications – despite being spread across 70 physical locations.
So when the Trust initially secured the funding to upgrade their dated ICT intranet site (based on SharePoint), they began looking into different solutions.
Inconsistent paper files leading to the spread of misinformation
Lorna joined the Trust as the new ICT SharePoint Administrator and was responsible for the front-end upkeep of the ICT Department’s SharePoint site. Initially, Lorna couldn’t quite believe how difficult the intranet made finding information.
“It was like banging my head against a brick wall,” Lorna recalls. “It might as well have been a folder of documents on a shared drive – that’s how interesting, informative and helpful it was.”
Time and time again, her searches would come back with nothing – despite how selective she was with her search criteria. Staff throughout the organisation were experiencing the same frustrations, which led to them printing and storing physical documents on site.
Significant storage costs aside, the staff’s well-meaning actions could lead to discrepancies between sites, which only further compounded the North Essex Trust’s issues. Something had to change – so Lorna took charge.
Custom solutions to clearly define corporate structure
As soon as she discovered her department was switching to Hadron, Lorna began collaborating with Cloud2 directly. She was on a personal mission to overcome the Trust’s communication problems.
“It was very much a shared discussion,” Lorna says, “Cloud2 were really helpful with suggestions for what could be done quickly to get us the functionality we so desperately needed.”
Meanwhile, Martin Cresswell joined the Trust as Communications Director. Seeing the issues the Trust was having with the main intranet site (a bespoke build on HTML), Martin decided to replace it. But he didn’t want it on SharePoint.
However, Lorna and Phil (Applications Manager) had both seen the potential of Hadron on the organisation, and went knocking on Martin’s door.
“We showed Martin the Hadron templates and he immediately wanted to roll it out Trust-wide, replacing both old intranets” tells Phil.
Getting the Trust’s staff directory up to speed was one of Lorna’s primary concerns. Under SharePoint, staff had to define roles and responsibilities though hearsay – they were knocking on doors, hoping to find the right person. The solution, it turned out, was surprisingly simple.
Following Lorna’s feedback, Cloud2 developed an expanded terms and conditions page which included fields that gathered essential information, such as a staff member’s name, email and telephone number. Users had to fill in these details when accepting the usage terms and the new details fed directly through to the staff directory – resolving the issues in a matter of minutes.
Instead of an outdated, useless directory, staff now have access to an up-to-date corporate structure that helps them quickly track down – and then contact – the colleagues they need. The simple switch has already saved the Trust hundreds of staff-hours.
future-proof intranet adapting to an ever-changing organisation
**The directory is, of course, not the only improvement.**
Before Hadron, the Trust struggled with a lack of meeting room space. Given their 70 locations, staff never knew when and where meeting rooms were available – there was simply no easy way to check. In the absence of transparent information, they booked into HQ facilities – managing meeting room demand alone was the work of two full-time administrators.
So Lorna worked with Cloud2 to develop a digital meeting room booking system, which enables geographically dispersed staff to see which facilities are available in which sites when, and to book the rooms up in just a few clicks.
Now, whilst the Trust have the same number of rooms as before, all of the rooms are being used far more efficiently – allowing administrators to focus on other areas within the Trust.
Cost saving technical support from start to finish
Deploying new solutions can often cause problems – especially when they are to be deployed on such a large scale. But even though Lorna had never tackled such a large deployment, Cloud2’s technical support meant she didn’t have to worry:
“I could’ve been a complete beginner and it wouldn’t have mattered. Whatever questions I had, I felt completely looked after. In fact, after deployment we didn’t even need to raise anything with the support desk for 18 months.”
The comprehensive technical support from Cloud2 also meant the Trust didn’t need to take on an in-house team of developers. As Applications Manager Phil Crofts says:
“We didn’t want the technical stuff to be in-house because that’s expensive. A contractor costs at least £500 a day. Now we only need Lorna as a front-end specialist to manage the way the Trust uses the intranet.”
Engaging more staff than ever with efficiency boosting technology
Since deployment, Lorna has introduced an increasing number of the Trust’s team to Hadron – resulting in a greater uptake of the solution than Lorna ever imagined.
But then it’s no surprise that staff are finding new ways to use Hadron to make their work more efficient: Lorna’s enthusiasm for the solution is unwavering and infectious. In her words:
“I can’t see the process as being anything except interesting and fun. Cloud2 have been so easy to work with and our communications team finally have a platform that works.”
With an intranet that’s getting vital information to where it’s needed, staff at the North Essex Trust now see tech as a help, not a hindrance.
The days of archaic paper files are gone and the definitive version of everything rests within Hadron. Policies are in place to make sure information is kept up to date and everything is stored in a decent hierarchy of meta data, which helps people find exactly what they need.
Perhaps the best example of culture change since the new intranet launched is the response Phil Crofts received when, 6 months ago, the Trust’s IT systems went offline, making Hadron inaccessible:
“Before Hadron, nobody would have noticed any problems with the intranet, but 6 months ago it went down for a few hours and my phone was ringing off the hook!”
It’s a far cry from the dark days of an outdated and unused SharePoint. And, of course, a perfect example of how the right intranet can help an organisation move forward.← Other stories