SharePoint intranet optimisation enabled 360 degree communication
ElectraNet is the principal Transmission Network Service Provider in South Australia, and operates in the National Electricity Market. ElectraNet’s electricity transmission network is the backbone of South Australia’s electricity supply system transporting high-voltage electricity over long distances and to remote areas. Customers include power generators, the State’s electricity distributor and large industry.
"The old system was hard for non-IT staff to use and maintain. Empired helped us change that and paved the way for us to move other non-intranet applications onto SharePoint."
Electranet Business Analyst
As a business that is subject to regulation, ElectraNet needs to communicate effectively with employees to ensure all policies and procedures are clearly understood and followed. The company’s intranet delivers key policies, information, procedures, forms and a contact directory for its workforce. ElectraNet originally used Microsoft SharePoint 2007 for its intranet and decided to upgrade and enhance its intranet platform in 2010.
Ren Gentilcore, ElectraNet Business Analyst, said, “We needed to find a partner that was experienced in implementing SharePoint environments so we could work together to upgrade our corporate intranet. The old platform was quite clunky and difficult to use. We needed to give the business a platform that was easy to use and gave employees the information they needed.
“As a business that uses Microsoft products predominantly, we knew that SharePoint was an important part of our strategy. We planned to upgrade to SharePoint 2010 to enhance our intranet. We also knew that we could use the platform for other application functions as well, making SharePoint 2010 a strategic choice.”
Early adopters of SharePoint 2010
ElectraNet chose Empired to deliver the upgrade of the SharePoint platform in parallel with its intranet re-development.
Ren said, “Empired had a good reputation and a local presence, both of which were important to us. We were one of the first organisations in South Australia to move onto SharePoint 2010 at the time and they were the only implementation partner that had actual experience with the product. Empired’s pre-existing experience with SharePoint 2010 mitigated some of the technology risks associated with ElectraNet’s upgrade.”
Empired delivered an improved intranet that let ElectraNet communicate more effectively with employees. As well as essential information about policies and procedures, the intranet offers a dedicated space for each of the organisation’s different departments to share information.
Ren said, “HR, Finance, Governance & Facilities, and IT all have a strong presence on the intranet because they are corporate services. All employees use these services at some point. For example, the HR department might post information on employee benefits or how to change your superannuation. “Employees can download forms from the intranet, confident that they are the most up-to-date versions.”
"Empired created custom code and configurations to make this connection work in the way we wanted it to. It was a complex project which avoided a lot of frustration and time-wasting for the business. It was a massive win."
Electranet Business Analyst
The implementation process was a collaborative one with both teams working together to create the most powerful solution possible.
Ren said, “The way Empired run projects was a good thing for us to be exposed to. It showed how agile we needed to be. And we learned how they ran projects, and set deliverables and reporting cycles. Their communication was outstanding and was a much appreciated benefit they brought to the project.
“The Empired team was also very open to talking and learning about what was happening within the business and how SharePoint could contribute. It was a collaborative process involving a free exchange of information and ideas, which was great for everyone.”
Improved document management
The initial intranet project was successful, leading to a number of subsequent projects that leverage SharePoint and Microsoft Project Server.
Ren said, “We were using a document management system that did not integrate automatically with SharePoint. This meant that a person searching for a document via SharePoint would not be able to find it if it was stored in the other document management system. This was obviously not acceptable, so we asked Empired to come up with a solution.”
The solution involved creating a connection from the old document management system into SharePoint so that searches would return both archived and current documents stored in either SharePoint or the original document management system. This eliminated the need to migrate approximately one million documents into SharePoint.
The SharePoint platform delivered by Empired has allowed ElectraNet to move to a more distributed content model, taking pressure off the IT team and giving the business a system that is easy and effective to use.
Ren said, “This approach lets the business own their own information rather than IT having to take ownership. The old system was hard for non-IT staff to use and maintain. Empired helped us change that and paved the way for us to move other non-intranet applications onto SharePoint.
“We are now looking at SharePoint becoming the primary user interface into our other systems. That will let us consolidate information and target it towards certain audiences rather than people having to go to four or five different systems to get the information they need.
“Over the past four years we have continually utilised the SharePoint platform to build functionality from the intranet through to a series of specific applications. The journey has delivered incremental benefits and the overall result is a significant improvement in efficiency and information sharing.”