Sanlam Investments provides clients - individual and institutional clients in South Africa, the UK and elsewhere in Europe, the United States and Australia - access to a comprehensive range of specialised investment and risk management expertise.
The company’s intranet had grown organically across various business units to the point where it was integral to the business processes. But general adoption of the intranet on a cluster level was tailing off without a broader approach and cohesive identity.
“We needed a single interface where our people could find everything they needed within one or two clicks” said Gayle Freeman, IT Service Manager at Sanlam Investments (SI).
SI also wanted to use social tools to make its internal collaboration and communication more efficient, and provide a platform for the company’s leadership to profile themselves through personal blogs.
SI worked with Microsoft partner Intervate to create a unified corporate intranet portal, using Microsoft SharePoint 2010. It now has an interactive, cluster-wide portal that provides easier access to content for the company’s employees.
“We customised the environment to reflect the SI brand and culture,” said Riaan Retief, User Experience Designer at Intervate. “Our brief was to make it easy for users to jump right in and find the activities or communities that they want to engage in. Making the portal user-friendly, simple, intuitive, and personalised was our primary goal.”
Enhanced social networking capabilities create a sense of community and promote cross-unit collaboration. The new platform offers a personalised user experience and a single window to key applications.
“With minimal investment, we were able to re-skin all the existing assets within business units to fit in with the new portal,” said Freeman. “We were also able to integrate tools like Microsoft Outlook and Lync to unlock powerful collaboration.
The portal was designed to encourage social networking using the built-in capabilities of SharePoint Server 2010, such as blogs, discussion forums and communities. If an employee’s profile is up to date, people can find them easily and instantly reach out to them on their areas of expertise. This promotes visibility and ensures maximum utilisation of their skills.
“There’s a very definite culture change associated with collaborating online,” said Freeman. “Our job is to make relevant content and resources available when people need it. We also created blogs or message boards for the senior executives, which was something totally new for the business. It’s early days, but some of them have really embraced the new platform and making a success of it.”
By creating a unified portal using Microsoft SharePoint 2010, SI is establishing a foundation for an innovative work environment where employees can share information effectively and efficiently, consolidate business and social information in one place and promote a sense of community with a dynamic intranet.
“The various business units have been using SharePoint extensively for document management and process efficiency. We are now looking at providing a communications centre with subscription management where content is pushed to interested staff, rather than having them going to find it,” said Freeman.
The enhanced portal has given SI’s employees improved, targeted access to required documents and expertise, which helps them make decisions and execute projects faster. In addition, the portal is strengthening the social network by helping employees form social connections and improved collaboration.
SI employees can use the portal to work efficiently and confidently with colleagues across the organisation, search for documents quickly and can easily navigate the information and expertise they need through personal sites, team sites and blogs.
“We’d like to help people work together without having to negotiate department boundaries or navigate multiple sources of information,” says Freeman. “It was important for us that the intranet promote a two-way experience rather than a top-down push. We’ve opened up the facility for all employees to have their own blogs and discussion boards.”
Promotes a sense of community
Social collaboration gives SI employees a new way to engage, learn, and disseminate information. By supporting the use of social networking tools, such as blogs, the portal encourages employees to connect with each other and create their own sense of community.
“Our goal was to bring employees together using various modes of communication,” says Freeman. “The social networking tools in SharePoint 2010 promote easier sharing of information, which in turn saves time and money, and furthers innovation.”
The landing page of the portal is now far more dynamic and simplified, with four major bubbles: one, a profile picture of the user themselves, with a link to their My Site page; two, a section highlighting SI in the media, which is constantly updated; three, the CEO’s blog and updated pictures; and the fourth, a focus on any current internal initiatives.
By organising information with content management tools in SharePoint, SI employees can more easily share information, streamline decision-making processes and get tasks done faster.
“The primary usage of the portal is integral to business processes and what our people are doing every day. It’s a great resource for new employees as well,” said Freeman.
“Research shows that companies can increase their productivity up to 25 percent by using social collaboration in the enterprise,” says Intervate Director Troy Gerber. “And we feel that we have helped Sanlam Investments get close to that through the delivery of this portal”, continues Gerber.
“We now have a unified platform for content and collaboration,” says Freeman. “The new environment encourages information-sharing through its ease of use and boosts efficiency.”