Inholland University of Applied Sciences wanted to set up a social intranet for some time now; a portal for lecturers, students and staff that would unlock information and integrate applications. The aim of this was to provide optimum access to the digital learning and working environment.
In addition, the portal had to be personalisable and it had to be easy for users to find answers to their questions quickly. The portal had to use new technologies such as conversational interface, BOT technology, AI and machine learning to optimise the user experience into the future. Rogier Nijenhuis (Principal Consultant Workplace at Broad Horizon) decided to design the project together with Inholland in an innovative way.
Independence as a starting point
“Normally we work with the Waterfall or Scrum method, but in this project we took as a starting point that Inholland had to be self-sufficient in the area of Synigo Pulse, their social intranet, when the project was completed. The idea behind this was to be able to do the management ourselves, give training and know the CMS.
To this end, a working model was set up with counterparts. This meant that if an application specialist from Broad Horizon worked on a particular component, an application specialist from Inholland was also put on the same component. The specialists did a kind of mini-project among themselves, which resulted in a very fast transfer of knowledge. This way of co-creation and shared responsibilities worked well and quickly generated results”.
Question and answer instead of browsing
The project manager of Inholland, Rogier’s counterpart, was Derk Riesthuis (ICT project manager at Inholland). Derk: “We were partly ‘forced’ to look at something new. Intranet ran on SharePoint 2007, which is no longer supported by Microsoft and was not used very well.
The information on the intranet was far from always correct and also did not meet the needs of the students and staff. We shared information from a ‘sending’ point of view, without considering whether students and staff were looking for that information. By setting up Synigo’s knowledge-base (Knowing and Regulating), Inholland is trying to better meet the needs of students, lecturers and staff.
The structure of question and answer and themes and categories, instead of having to search for information yourself, fits in much better with a modern educational institution. It had to be easier to find your way around all of Inholland’s applications, your questions had to be answered and it had to be a channel for the communication department. By putting all these requirements together, we came up with Synigo Pulse: one page, a portal to everything. In addition, Synigo has a high Office 365 integration. We were also looking for this synergy”.
Looking for a new way of thinking
“Initially, the project focused on setting up the portal and the Knowledge and Control section of the staff departments (HR, ICT and the student organisation), because they had the most information and were best organised. That was a relatively simple step. As a result, we didn’t need a lot of implementation help. In addition, a number of integrations with other systems were also realised. For example, students can now see their study progress in the portal. This kind of information is placed in a widget, which can be chosen by the user himself. Knowing and regulating has taken a lot of effort. Another way of thinking was central to this, namely from the point of view of demand instead of traditional information-thinking. That is still a point of attention.
On the road to the future
“We are currently working on two things: transferring the rest of the content, because we want to turn off our old intranet. We are also working on optimising and further structuring the organisation around the new portal (Governance). Over the past few months, we have learned a lot about what is and what is not useful. We are now recording these learning moments and implementing them. How do we ensure that it becomes a well-oiled machine? That is our next trajectory.