What does a proper intranet solution look like for an international company with 1,800 employees, sales in over 30 countries and production in 7 countries? That was the question at Peikko Group that wanted to improve internal communication across the company by renewing their intranet. Peikko did not have a modern intranet or digital workplace encompassing the entire organisation, allowing the company to start from scratch.
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Peikko is a family-owned company that manufactures concrete connections and composite beams for the construction industry. The former small family business has since expanded to Europe, North America, Middle East, Russia and China. Until recently, each group company has operated fairly independently and organised their internal communication according to local customs. This has resulted in varying policies across the Group, massive email volumes, several newsletters and a large amount of knowledge remaining tacit within the organisation.
An extensive pre-study helped build the new intranets
The new intranets aim at improving internal communication, providing various employee groups with new ways to work and interact, as well as provide the employees with easy and efficient access to all useful information and instructions. The renewal also set out to support the corporate culture and solidarity at the workplace.
With intranet projects, starting from scratch is rare and challenging but also an extremely interesting starting point0. Careful preparation is of utmost importance in a case such as this one. The new intranet should be good enough to convince the employees to switch to using the intranet instead of whichever tools they were using before.
Peikko carried out an extensive pre-study to determine what should be included in the project, why and how. Some employee groups were unfamiliar with the modern intranet as a tool, which needed to be taken into account in the survey. The pre-study helped determine how the employees share information with each other, which information they need in their daily work and which tools they use for internal communication and information sharing. Mervi Kainulainen, Communications Manager at Peikko Group, interviewed more than 30 people within the Group from a total of 10 countries. In order to give everyone a chance to make their voice heard, an electronic survey was also sent out to the personnel. All gathered data were then used as a base in the planning workshops.
‒ It was important to us to ensure that all country organisations are committed to the intranet project, so Peikko representatives from across the globe participated in the workshops. The resulting concept was separately validated with representatives from various countries, Kainulainen says.
The overall concept for Peikko’s intranet was planned in together in the workshops. Peikko decided to go forward with one common global intranet in English, supported by several local country sites in local languages.
Workspaces provide a solution for the internal communication needs of small sales offices and help reduce internal email communication, and support collaboration across national borders. As a large number of Peikko employees spend a lot of time on the go, it was important that the intranet can be accessed on mobile devices as well.
Useful information in one place
One of the objectives set for the new intranet was to provide a tool for the employees for finding essential information quickly. This objective has been completed.
‒ The intranet offers a huge amount of information, including information which previously had not been recorded anywhere. We have already received tons of positive feedback even though the global intranet and the Finnish site have only been live for a few months, Kainulainen states.
The highly detailed personal profiles play a key role for employees in finding the right people across the Group. Before the launch of the new intranets, searching for contacts was difficult and you had to know who to ask. In the new system, everyone can be found and reached easily.
Peikko employees need plenty of product information in their work but there was no desire to duplicate information that is already accessible elsewhere. However, the product section turned out quite extensive, and it has proven a great resource for the employees. For example, the Group website still holds the product information, but the product section in the intranet provides the employees with added useful information and guides them to the source of information. Product images from the Crasman Studio media library are also displayed in the right context and can be browsed in the intranet product section, making it easy for the employees to find the images they need.
‒ Embedded image folders are really handy and help our employees in their daily work, Kainulainen says.
Right tools for the corporate culture
As the intranets were designed based on the users’ requirements, it quickly became evident that O365 and SharePoint online was the most appropriate solution for Peikko. At the time of the project start, modern SharePoint sites were still a fairly new phenomenon and Peikko’s wishes regarding the appearance and its customisability led them to opt for classic SharePoint sites.
As for the workspace solution, Peikko selected Share Point TeamSites. For instance Peikko wanted a classic discussion board for the workspaces, enabling users to re-read messages later and providing them with a clear overview of the conversation.
Peikko continues to use the M-Files document management system that enables document editing and storage. Any files located in M-Files can also be accessed through the intranet and its workspaces so that the employees can find the right information regardless of its storage location. The motivation for this solution is that the user does not need to know where the information is stored, because they can find it on the intranet.
‒ Currently, the workspaces are being taken into use, the number of them nearing one hundred. The popularity of the workspaces has taken us by surprise, Kainulainen says.
Peikko’s employees are being encouraged to adopt new working methods and seek information on the intranet. Pre-existing communication channels remain in use while the Group organisations take their new intranets into use. Peikko has used newsletters for quite some time, and during the transition the employees are being directed by the newsletters to the intranet to read the news about the Group.
At Peikko, the intranet is a tool for both Group officials and employees. The intranet news feed is displayed on information screens at factories so that daily communication reaches also the people working at the factories.
‒ The news feed on the information screens provides us with another channel for internal communication, which hopefully encourages employees to read more about the stories on the intranet, Kainulainen states.
Tight schedule and publishing in phases
With a total of nine different intranet sites to create, phasing was necessary. At the first stage, the global intranet site in English and its Finnish localised version were created. They were published in May 2018.
‒ All things considered, the project has been a real success so far, Kainulainen states. Everything has been done from scratch with a good team spirit. Support from the management has been crucial. The schedule has been tight, but delays have been avoided. ‘Without the extensive preparations carried out with North Patrol, we would not have been able to pull it off’, Kainulainen says.
The project is being implemented by Cloudriven, whom the Peikko project group has been extremely satisfied with.
‒ The project manager at Cloudriven has been keeping everything under control nicely, and we are also very grateful to their technical architect. He was able to see the project in its entirety, considering also non-technical factors, and has had the energy to reply to a massive number of emails, Kainulainen states.
The content producers have been given clear instructions as to the subject matters, tone of voice, and the features and layout of the intranet pages. After laying out a solid foundation, they have been able to begin their work with ease.
The next stage sees the creation of the localised sites, and the implementation of the intranets is continued.
‒ We are using the intranet of our Finnish branch as a template for the site adaptations of the other regions, which are being created this autumn. The intranet of Peikko Finland will be used in content planning for the other group companies and familiarisation with the tool. The remaining new intranet sites will be launched by March 2019, Kainulainen says.
Mervi’s tips for a successful project
- Allocate plenty of time and effort to conceptual planning. Thorough preparation will pay off by helping avoid delays.
- Engage as many groups and teams of the organisation to the project as possible. This will improve the quality of the outcome and facilitate the use of the new tool by the employees, as they already feel that the tool is tailored to them.
- An intranet renewal should not be only a project of the communication department as it requires close collaboration between the communication and IT departments. With both departments taking care of their duties, the project will progress smoothly.
- The project manager should be demanding but should also know how to motivate the project group and give credit for successes.
- Obtaining the management’s support to the project as early as possible is important. Peikko’s management validated the new concept before more detailed planning was commenced.
Case: Peikko Group’s intranets
Client: Peikko Group
Contract value: under EUR 100,000
Preliminary survey: North Patrol (spring 2017)
Requirements specification, call for tenders and vendor selection: North Patrol (autumn 2017)
Technical implementation: Cloudriven (started in December 2017)
First publication: May 2018
Regional intranet sites are being developed and will be published by the spring of 2019