An overflowing inbox is something we’re all familiar with. This is especially true here at Accenture, where we use an internal system known as “Mailer” to send out bulk e-mail to our employees. It’s an old (but impressive) collection of tools to assist with content management, dynamic list creation, and mail distribution for Accenture’s internal e-mail system. Problem is, it’s too good at what it does, and we routinely send out over 1 million bulk-mail messages per day to our quarter of a million employees. As you can imagine, the employees aren’t nearly as enthusiastic about Mailer as we are. We knew our employee portal could do more to free up inboxes for e-mail. This started the ball rolling on a major redesign for our internal Employee Portal. I’m Chris Crawford, and I am responsible for our employee Social Collaboration, Knowledge Management, Search and intranet Portal here at Accenture, and in this blog I’m going to walk you through our innovative Portal update.
We started with a steering committee of employee-centric business leaders, and a handful of design goals:
· Make it a home for the tasks, announcements and newsletters to reduce e-mail clutter
· Compose it from gadgets that bring live, relevant information from internal and external data sources
· Offer pre-composed layouts for common employee types (“new employee” or “client lead”), but allow individual customization
· Have a look and feel similar to popular consumer portals (e.g. iGoogle or myYahoo)
· Continue to support existing uses of portal: Corporate news, enterprise search, links to internal web apps, etc.
Our Portal development teams in Chicago and Buenos Aires embarked on a four month conceptual and architectural design phase followed by six months of agile iterations leading to the first public release in May 2011. After another half-dozen releases over five months, the new Portal was fully deployed and live for all Accenture employees in December 2011. You can hear more about our strategy and launch in this podcast.
The Portal is built on a core of SharePoint “mySites,” augmented with dozens of custom web parts and a new UI layer over the standard SharePoint features. The SharePoint capabilities sped time to launch, but brought several challenges for us in authentication, page rendering time and operations that we worked through (and around) in the months after the initial pilot launch.
Today, the Portal is exceeding its targets for performance, availability and usage. We currently offer over 80 different web parts that give access to a wide variety of data. My personal home page includes a part that shows my current travel spend, my outstanding to-do’s, highly viewed Accenture blogs, and the three day weather forecast for my home and work locations, plus about a dozen others. I can also access the full version of Portal on my iPad, or a stream-lined, single column version on my phone.
Going forward, we’ll be incorporating additional parts from more line-of-business applications, and moving more of our communications and corporate to-do list out of e-mail. You can read more about how the Portal is supporting our employees in this credential.
Is your enterprise thinking about upgrading your portal? Let me know about your plans!