Truth is your Intranet is bad. But so are everyone else’s right? Yes, yes they are. And especially in NHS organisations.
Take ours for example:
It’s an in-house cobbled together classic-ASP mess that has been hacked up and re-worked so many times since it launched back in 2001 I’ve lost count of what ‘version’ we are on.
It’s utterly inflexible and impossible to improve upon without a complete overhaul. But who has the time, money and resources to put into such a project when in the general feeling is that - it works.
Familiarity is your enemy
In general staff at the hospital like our Intranet. They see it as a good way to catch up with the latest news and goings on and have a chat in our message boards.
It’s rare that anyone ever comes forward to criticise it. Even new staff seem to simply accept the inevitable and get on with using it.
The sad truth is we could use this Intranet for another 10 years and I honestly don’t think any of our staff would mind.
So why should I bother?
Because, as I said in the title, its bad and it makes me feel bad. Really bad
I feel bad that it has been left for so long since anything significant changed on the Intranet and I feel awful that the promise of shiny new tools like SharePoint have just come in and muddied the waters and added an extra layer of complexity for our users.
To me it’s a mess – a big ugly mess. A mess that I’m responsible for because I helped build it and I maintain the status quo by containing hack and slash at the code to keep it running.
Enter project Canopy
Project Canopy is just a name I’ve given to our new Intranet prototype (excuse the logo, I only had 15 minutes). I’m starting preliminary work on the project next week while at the WordCamp UK Retreat in Edinburgh.
I’ve worked with the marketing & engagement team to come up with some realistic objectives for this project. The key sticking point is that this will not replace our entire Intranet system.It will instead augment it and run over-the-top (hence the name) of our existing Intranet-based systems like SharePoint and our telephone book system giving our staff a clean modern and fresh portal (I hate that word but it’s relevant here) to everything we have on our internal network as well as a few external items like NHS Mail and our website.
It should also make things easier to find because we can build a new less-cluttered front-page and leverage the modern tagging and indexing technologies built into WordPress to make sure everything is searchable and attributed to the correct area.
The basic outline for phase one goes something like:
- Improve the way news & information is processed
Allow for different ‘types’ of news such as events, documents, links andstatuses (think tweets). News should be properly categorised and tagged using extensive taxonomies. It should cut down on emails to the marketing team by allowing different types of news to be user-submitted via online forms so only the essential information is received before being published.
- Create a directory where all items on the hospital network can be added and indexed for quick access
Sort of like a ‘human Google’ this will involve blitzing though all of the links off to SharePoint, shared drives, important documents, clinical systems, apps, tools, resources etc and placing them in an intelligently indexed database (like our A to Z only more flexible). Oh and it will be searchable.
- Implement a poll system to improve staff engagement
Another no-brainer Quick and simple polls are a great way to gauge staff opinions and emotions and gather feedback.
- Some slight Twitter an Facebook integration
We recently were able to open up social-media sites to our staff by getting IT to unblock them. However, it’s still a challenge making staff aware that this service is available and it should be encouraged.
So, in essence Canopy will just be a news publishing system. But a modern and polished one.
Oh and it will be built using WordPress. In fact, I’ve spent most of the R&D into this project assessing if WordPress is right for this. And it is, for reasons that will be explained in more detail once the prototype is up-and-running.
Hopefully by the time this is over I won’t feel so bad.