6 great SharePoint examples with screenshots for 2022

SharePoint remains an excellent platform for delivering high impact intranets and digital workplace solutions to increase engagement, drive efficiency, minimise risk and improve productivity. At Content Formula, we’ve delivered hundreds of SharePoint projects that have supported employees in their day-to-day work while helping the organisations they work for realise strategic goals.

One of the major advantages of SharePoint is its flexibility, insofar as it can deliver all kinds of different solutions while integrating with other Office 365 tools, providing huge value either out of the box or with customisation. There is also a highly mature ecosystem of products based on SharePoint.

With intranets and the digital workplace set to be more important in 2022 than ever, there are bound to be many opportunities for SharePoint to make a difference. Let’s look at six high impact examples of how you can use SharePoint, illustrated with screenshots from some of the work we have delivered to clients.

1 Using SharePoint to implement Viva Connections

One of the most exciting digital workplace developments of the past 18 months has been the launch of Microsoft Viva – the employee experience platform that consists of complementary apps that are accessed through Teams. One of these is Viva Connections, which seeks to surface internal communications, relevant reference content and Yammer conversations all within the Teams experience. Additionally, the Viva Connections dashboard can feature integrations from other digital workplace systems such as ServiceNow, SuccessFactors and Glint. We know many internal communications and digital workplace teams are currently considering how they can use Viva Connections, and 2022 will be a big year for the platform.

There is still some confusion about Viva Connections and whether it replaces a SharePoint intranet. In fact, Viva Connections is dependent on SharePoint, as what you’re viewing is essentially SharePoint content within the Microsoft Teams environment. By making a SharePoint communication or hub site a home site and creating your desired navigation within Viva Connections (or inheriting it from the home site), you can allow employees to access SharePoint content through Teams. This can be really valuable if your employees spend a lot of time within Teams, bringing SharePoint content to the place where they are working and providing a more consistent digital workplace experience across different tools.

Entain Viva Connections

2 Creating a hub or portal to centralise and contextualise learning

Over the past year, placing learning and training right at the heart of the digital workplace and the daily flow of work has come increasingly into focus. This is partly down to the possibilities of integrating a learning platform seamlessly into Office 365 through a solution like LMS365 (which is actually based on SharePoint), as well as the launch of Microsoft Viva Learning which surfaces relevant learning content for users.

If you are using LMS365, a great use case for SharePoint is to create a learning hub on your intranet which can act as a seamless front page into your learning platform, giving more context about the content you provide It can also be a top-level navigation item in your information architecture so users can find it more easily. Here, you can leverage SharePoint web parts such as news, events, key links and even Yammer threads to bring together the latest updates, as well as provide information about learning at your organisation, offer opportunities to ask questions to the learning team and more. You can also link to relevant dashboards within LMS365.

Because LMS365 integrates so seamlessly with a SharePoint intranet, users may not even realise that they are entering the LMS365 platform because it will feel like one integrated ecosystem, delivering a consistent digital employee experience and supporting good learning adoption.

School-Led Network LMS365

3 A central policy library to support compliance and minimise risk

SharePoint is an excellent platform for employees to access the trusted, authoritative information, content and documents that they need in order to get things done, carry out their role or complete mandatory compliance-related tasks. A central policy library built on SharePoint and Microsoft 365 has real value as a place where employees can easily find HR and work-related policies, procedural information, critical forms, key guidelines and more, knowing they are accessing the latest and most up-to-date information. When you don’t have a central library, it cannot only prove difficult for employees to find the policies they need, but if they do, they then have no way of knowing if it is the right version. Carrying out tasks and making decisions based on out-of-date policy documents can involve risks, especially if they pertain to a topic like health & safety.

There are multiple ways to create a policy library using SharePoint, such as leveraging pages, a document library, integrating workflows from Power Automate and using the right permissions to ensure documents are kept up to date. At Content Formula, we have used SharePoint as the basis for Xoralia – a sophisticated and intelligent policies and procedures library software product with multiple features including mandatory reads, detailed reporting, robust policy lifecycle management and even a range of useful web parts that you can deploy on your SharePoint intranet.

Xoralia

4 An HR intrant to support self-service and key HR processes

An HR intranet based on SharePoint is an excellent way to help HR teams achieve their goals and ensure employees have access to the people-related information they need. An HR-focused SharePoint intranet will have a number of key features including access to HR policies, personalisation to target information to the right location and role and integrations with core HR systems to support self-service tasks like booking annual leave. The flexibility of SharePoint means this can all be achieved in a relatively straightforward way that allows employees to access what they need on a self-serve basis, relieving pressure on busy HR support teams.

SharePoint pages can also include information and integrations to streamline major HR processes. For example, employee onboarding is a high-value use case that supports good employee experience. You can use a combination of SharePoint web parts, features and integrations like lists, notifications, to-dos, forms and personalisation to make sure new joiners have an authoritative list of the tasks they need to complete and when. They can then perform the tasks and track their progress. This drives efficiency and makes the onboarding experience smoother for new joiners.

Haines Watts

5 Revolutionising frontline messaging with a custom SharePoint solution

Communicating with frontline staff in a targeted and impactful way can be challenging. For example, we were engaged by TTEC – a global provider of customer experience services with many frontline staff deployed to different customers – to deliver an improved method of messaging hard-to-reach staff. Using email had proved to be ineffectual, and they were looking for a fresh way to deliver personalised, hyper-targeted messaging.

One of the advantages of using SharePoint here is that you can deliver customised solutions. Customisation is not always desired by IT functions, but for high impact use cases, it can be necessary to achieve great results. We were able to deliver a user-friendly messaging service that is hard-baked into their already highly-used SharePoint intranet. Here, each employee can view personal and targeted group messages and reply to them. It’s a simple and elegant solution that has had a strong impact and exploits the power of SharePoint.

TTEC Messages For You

6 Streamlining digital communications through a SharePoint intranet homepage

The digital communications landscape for most organisations is highly complex, with multiple channels for internal and external messaging as well as varied audience targeting across different locations, functions and regions. It’s hard for employees to keep on top of all the news they need to read, events they might want to attend, automated notifications they may receive from different systems, various social feeds and more!

One thing a SharePoint intranet does very well is surface news and updates from different channels in one place, helping to streamline communications and reduce information overload while also ensuring relevance through matching the right content to an individual’s Active Directory profile. For example, a SharePoint intranet homepage could include:

  • Global, regional, divisional, departmental and role-based news
  • Automated notifications, reminders and approval requests from right across the digital workplace
  • Embedded social feeds from internal tools like Yammer or external channels like Twitter
  • Details of events
  • And more!

A compelling intranet homepage that improves communications is a common use case that is as relevant in 2022 as it has been for the past fifteen years.

TP Bennetts

Using SharePoint in 2022

We’re looking to delivering more exciting SharePoint projects this year. If you’d like to discuss your potential SharePoint intranet or digital workplace project, then get in touch!

Webinar video: Using SharePoint for policy management and compliance

Ensuring that employees read policies is an important factor in compliance for all organisations. You may be considering using SharePoint to manage your policies or your organization may be using it now, but in either case you may be asking the question Is SharePoint the best approach?

During this webinar, we will show you how to get the most out of SharePoint when managing your policies and help your organisation to stay compliant.

We will explain why SharePoint is the best approach and cover:

  • Common organisational scenarios in policy management
  • How to get the best out of SharePoint
  • Is SharePoint enough?
  • One of our customer case studies

10 main features of an HR intranet

HR intranets or similar people-related portals are excellent ways to support the strategic objectives of the HR function. Here at Content Formula, we’ve worked with numerous HR teams who have invested in an intranet which has gone on to make a tangible contribution in supporting their organisation’s HR or people strategy.

An HR intranet might be a completely dedicated intranet focused on HR and people-related content and features, or a similar HR hub within a wider intranet. In this post, we’re going to explore the main objectives of an HR intranet, and run through the typical features and content that support them.

What are the main objectives of an HR intranet?

At a very high level, most HR intranets are specifically designed to:

  • Support employee self-service and related manager self-service, allowing employees to get things done on a self-serve basis without having to ask HR, relieving pressure on busy HR support teams
  • Improve HR and people-related processes by making them more efficient, increasing take-up, standardising them across the enterprise and minimising risk
  • Support important HR policies and initiatives including learning, wellbeing, Diversity & Inclusion and flexible working
  • Drive a strong employee experience to make the organisation a great place to work, supporting talent retention and attraction.

Let’s explore the features and content that help deliver these four main aims.

1 Access to HR policies and procedures

HR functions will have numerous HR policies and procedures that employees and managers will need to refer to from time to time when they need to complete tasks, make decisions and carry out HR processes. An HR intranet provides an opportunity to create a single source of truth for all your HR-related content that employees will trust is always up-to-date. It’s the place to access the staff handbook, find out what needs to be done to register for maternity or paternity leave or explore the company’s bonus scheme.

HR intranets deliver this through various features including content pages grouped into relevant HR themes, as well as an authoritative central policy library with all the latest policies and how to content and documents. A decent search and intuitive information architecture are also important to ensure employees find the HR content they need.

2 Personalisation to ensure relevant HR content

A core capability of modern intranets based on SharePoint is the ability to support personalisation and target content to employees based on their Active Directory profile. This means employees see the content that is relevant to their role, location, division, department or similar attribute. Personalisation is really important in HR intranets, especially in larger global companies where HR procedures, policies and systems can vary from country to country. Managers also need to be able to access HR information relating to managing their team. It is imperative that employees only see the HR information that is meant for them and their location; personalisation is a must-have intranet capability that delivers this, although there is a dependency on having complete and accurate AD profiles.

3 Integrations to support employee self-service

HR and people-related systems are numerous, and can include a core HR system like SAP or Workday, a time-recording and expenses system, a benefits portal, a learning management system, a system to log a ticket with HR support desk, an appraisal and performance review application, a wellbeing app and many more. One of the most valuable elements of an HR intranet is delivered by integrating some of these applications with the intranet, meaning employees can access personal HR information and complete simple transactions without even having to visit these disparate applications and systems.

For example, the intranet might not only act as the front door to reach these systems, but also display information through integrations, such as how much annual leave a person has, the benefits choices they have made or the status of an HR helpdesk ticket. They may also be able to actually book their annual leave, log a helpdesk ticket or make their benefits choices, all from within the intranet. Increasingly, these transactions are being delivered by chat bots.

Some HR intranets also include an inbox which displays automated notifications and reminders from different systems, including the ability for managers or HR staff to approve requests as part of their workflow. Overall, these integrations help support employee self-service, drive efficiency, initiate quicker approval processes and result in less frustration for employees who no longer have to log in to multiple systems and rely on email.

4 Support learning and training

HR intranets themselves don’t tend to directly deliver learning and training, but can play an important role in making it easier for employees to access learning resources. For example, we often implement LMS365, a learning platform that integrates seamlessly with Microsoft 365. This integration means that you can create pages on an HR intranet based on SharePoint that act as an informative and attractive front end to LMS365 and encourage more adoption; employees may not even realise they have left the intranet and entered into the learning platform. You can also integrate LMS365 courses and assets into an intranet search. An events calendar on your HR intranet can display learning events and encourage people to register.

5 HR communications and updates

A good HR intranet should provide communications and updates relating to HR through news and reminders about core processes such as annual appraisals, the employee engagement survey and more.

6 Support employee onboarding

HR intranets tend to focus on moments that matter throughout the employee lifecycle, including when a person first joins a company. Employee onboarding is a core HR process that supports better employee retention. New hires are more likely to stay if they have a strong onboarding experience, and an HR intranet can help by gathering the resources new starters need to refer to all in one place, making the process of joining less overwhelming and more welcoming.

An area of an HR intranet targeted to new joiners can include a schedule of onboarding tasks they need to complete and when, links to all the information about the company, lists of contacts and even a welcome message from the CEO. The ability to target notifications and reminders in your HR intranet and integrations can also cover specific tasks and activities for new hires, such as completing relevant learning.

7 Ensure health and wellbeing

Health and wellbeing have been priority areas for HR functions for a long time now, but the pandemic has placed even more focus on them Some teams are including a specific wellbeing hub on their HR intranet which brings together wellbeing-related content, resources and features onto one specific page or microsite. Typically, this will include:

  • Information on health-related benefits
  • Wellbeing related content, including tips and tricks, often produced by third parties
  • An opportunity to book wellbeing events and activities such as online mindfulness sessions
  • Access to a wellbeing community for discussions
  • Health and safety policies and procedures.

8 Employee resource groups to support Diversity & Inclusion

Diversity & Inclusion is a crucial priority for organisations. An HR intranet can support D&I by providing information about initiatives and policies, as well as specifically supporting spaces for Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). ERGs are groups of employees that join together based on shared characteristics to support each other and positively promote D&I policies. Common ERG demographics include women, LGBTQ+ people, ethnic groups, military veterans and more. An HR intranet can provide information and resources about establishing ERGs, but also support discussion groups, usually through social collaboration features including integration with a platform like Yammer.

9 Create dialogue to check the employee pulse

Increasingly leaders are realising the importance of listening to employees and establishing dialogue in order to engage employees and help inform decisions, but also spot problems and issues that need fixing. Intranets are an excellent channel for HR functions to get a sense of employee sentiment and understand issues that are impacting staff. There are a variety of different intranet features that can help get a pulse check on how employees are feeling, including:

  • Discussion feeds and communities, such as those powered by Yammer
  • Quick polls and more in-depth surveys
  • Commenting on blogs and news articles
  • Overall analytics to see what content staff is engaging with.

10 Nurturing organisational culture to drive employee experience

HR functions want to create a great place to work in order to retain and attract talent, and intranets can help nurture organisational culture that contributes to this. Internal communications an integral part of any intranet play a part here, alongside the ability for employees to post updates from across the organisation, celebrate successes and thank their peers. Information about company purpose and values, as well as updates on CSR activities, can also play a part.

Need to discuss your HR intranet? Get in touch!

An HR intranet can provide real strategic value for HR functions and organisations through a combination of features and content. If you’d like to discuss your HR intranet or how an intranet can help your HR department, then get in touch!

I need an intranet for Office 365! What are my options?

As more and more organisations go down the Office365 and Microsoft 365 route, they realise the importance of having an intranet that integrates with the other Microsoft tools such as Yammer, Microsoft Teams, SharePoint Libraries, Planner, Microsoft Forms and even Outlook. Invariably, this means an intranet that is based upon SharePoint Online, although there are other options to explore.

Having an intranet that is built for 365 and integrates effortlessly with all the necessary tools means:

  • Your are provided with a seamless and less fragmented digital workplace and digital employee experience
  • Your intranet can provide a highly convenient entry point for the Microsoft universe, easily accessible for your entire workforce
  • You can present content and feeds from apps together to add context and value, for example, presenting Yammer conversations alongside SharePoint content
  • You can drive better findability through integrated search right across the 365 universe, simultaneous with better designed user journeys
  • You can fully leverage your 365 licence, allowing you to achieve ROI more easily
  • You can support better adoption of your tools and your intranet.

The options for your 365 intranet

Teams who are looking to introduce an intranet perfectly suited for Microsoft 365 don’t always know where to start, nor which base technology to use. Generally, if you have Microsoft 365, then a SharePoint intranet is going to be your best option. But there are a range of options to consider relating to SharePoint, as well as some slightly different approaches such as delivering an intranet through Microsoft Teams.

Let’s explore the different options for creating an intranet for Office 365 and Microsoft 365.

1 SharePoint Online out-of-the-box

Amber

One option for delivering an intranet is to leverage SharePoint Online straight out-of-the-box with no customisation. This is particularly attractive for some teams because it allows them to significantly reduce costs and fully leverage the features and tools included in their 365 licence. Avoiding customisation is another a tactical aim for most IT teams that supports easier day-to-day management of your intranet environment and avoids difficulties with upgrading.

Two years ago, a SharePoint intranet out-of-the-box simply wasn’t a viable option for most organisations, but Microsoft has invested in features which allow teams to add some of the main features of a global intranet such as a homepage and global navigation. However, using SharePoint alone could create significant gaps in the intranet experience, especially around the ability to deliver internal communications and advanced personalisation, as well as the capacity to add intranet governance to content to ensure a more successful and sustainable intranet. For more complex organisations, SharePoint Online alone may not be enough to meet all their needs.

2 An intranet in-a-box product such as a LiveTiles intranet

Entain

An excellent option for delivering a SharePoint Online intranet that offers a more comprehensive intranet experience is using an intranet in-a-box product in conjunction with SharePoint Online. This leverages the strengths of SharePoint Online, before adding a host of templates, features and interfaces which introduce capabilities for internal communicators, content owners and more. It also delivers a comprehensive digital workplace experience, and supports the more scalable and complex intranet required by most enterprises. An in-a-box product not only closes the gaps left by using SharePoint alone, but saves time and delivers an improved digital employee experience.

The in-a-box SharePoint intranet product that we implement is LiveTiles intranet, and it’s one of the market leaders. The obvious disadvantage of this approach is the additional cost of another platform; however, in our view, the advantages of using a LiveTiles intranet rather than just SharePoint actually make it a very sensible investment.

3 A fully customised SharePoint intranet

Moving Made Easy

A few years ago, leading SharePoint intranets were all customised. This meant they were very expensive to implement, and projects were long and intense; they also proved hard to improve and evolve. Thankfully, the days of fully customised SharePoint intranets are long gone due to a combination of cloud solutions, agile methodologies, developments to SharePoint Modern and the evolution of SharePoint Online and Microsoft 365. In our view, it is unlikely there is a need for a fully customised SharePoint intranet nowadays, unless it is part of a very specific wider customised digital workplace such as the one we created for property firm Moving Made Easy.

4 LiveTiles or SharePoint out of the box with customisations and add-ons

While most teams would not want to deliver a fully customised SharePoint intranet, customisation does still have a role to play in creating the perfect SharePoint intranet. If you’re choosing to implement an intranet just using SharePoint Online, and even with LiveTiles, there may still be some gaps you need to fill, for example:

  • Very specific features, processes or experiences which are unique to your organisation
  • Integrations with systems and applications that are not readily available out-of-the-box
  • Custom features that are popular with employees and which you want to replicate from a legacy intranet
  • Individual branding needs
  • Features and capabilities insisted upon by stakeholders.

When you have these gaps, adding customised web parts or additional intranet products can provide the intranet you need. For example, we regularly deliver custom business apps for Office 365 that can also be delivered or integrated via an intranet. Intranet add-ons and products deliver real value for example, our Xoralia policy library for SharePoint intranet provides industry-leading capabilities around policy management which you can’t get from just SharePoint or LiveTiles.

5 Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams has emerged as the centre of many digital workplaces, particularly during the pandemic. With an eye on the huge adoption of Microsoft Teams and its ability to integrate with other digital workplace tools (both Microsoft 365 and beyond), some teams have asked us can Microsoft Teams deliver an intranet? In fact, we were asked this so many times that we held a webinar on the topic.

When we unpacked this question, we found it can be interpreted in two ways. Firstly, can you deliver the capabilities of an intranet through Microsoft Teams, and secondly, can you access and view an intranet through Teams?

The answer to the first question is not necessarily straightforward, although it’s safe to say that on balance, Teams isn’t going to deliver all the capabilities you need from your intranet, in the same way an intranet won’t deliver all you need from Teams. Again, we explore this in more detail on this blog.

The answer to the second question is more simple. It is possible to add a link to your SharePoint intranet within a Team channel, while a LiveTiles intranet is available to view within Teams. Viewing an intranet though Microsoft Teams is also possible through Viva Connections, which is explored in more detail below.

6 Viva Connections

Microsoft Viva is a recently launched employee experience platform that is still evolving. It incorporates four apps which are experienced through Microsoft Teams. One of these the Viva Connections app – is designed to create an intranet-like experience similar to Teams, and was actually originally developed as the Home Site App: a way to access and navigate resources and sites from across your organisation within Microsoft Teams. Some of the foundational work you need to do to leverage Viva Connections actually means you’re effectively setting up a SharePoint intranet anyway.

We recently covered Viva Connections on this blog as an option for intranet teams. We think it’s still early days for Viva Connections, which means there are some advantages in waiting to deploy it. We also don’t think it’s a replacement for the full browser-led intranet experience. However, it is almost certainly going to play a role in bringing your intranet to the Teams environment, and is definitely an option to watch as it evolves.

Looking for an intranet for Office 365? Get in touch!

If you’re looking for an intranet for Office 365, there a number of options to consider. If you’d like to discuss the right one for you, then get in touch!

What is a social intranet and what are its main features?

When we speak to intranet teams about what they want to achieve with a new or existing intranet, they sometimes tell us they want to introduce a social intranet. Although some teams use terms such as modern intranet or even digital workplace which can cover similar ground, social intranet is still a commonly used term.

Generally, a social intranet is regarded as one that includes a high number of social and collaborative features and tools which enable participation from employees, therefore distinguishing it from a more traditional intranet purely focused on internal communications and static content. Many organisations wish to introduce a social intranet to help drive employee engagement and support a less hierarchical organisational culture.

In this post, we’re going to explore in more detail what a social intranet is, what its main features are and the advantages it can bring.

What is a social intranet?

There is no formal definition of a social intranet. However,  a social intranet is generally considered to be an intranet where there are a substantial number of social tools and features accessible across it that allow users to publish content, add comments, post contributions and interact with each other. It can also include social networking capabilities such as the ability to follow other employees. A social intranet might additionally integrate external social media, such as a corporate Twitter feed.

These social capabilities are usually visible and well-adopted to a degree where they counter-balance the more formal, top-down elements of an intranet such as corporate news and more static evergreen content. On a social intranet, bottom-up, user-generated content will be highly prevalent, and should make a site more dynamic and livelier with a constant stream of employee contributions from right across the organisation.

The social features of an intranet might be either built into the intranet software you are using, integrated from a separate platform or even both. For example, many social SharePoint Online intranets  include a Yammer integration as their main social element.

What are the features of a social intranet?

There are a number of common features of a social intranet, although not every social intranet will include all of these.

Activity streams and feeds

Social intranets tend to have activity streams and feeds from social platforms like Yammer embedded into pages. These may appear on the homepage, which might aggregate feeds from different groups and be personalised, or as a feed relevant to the subject, topic or community on a specific page. These feeds will not only surface conversations, but also be a point from which users can interact and make contributions.

Commenting, sharing and liking on messages

Social intranets tend to allow users to interact with more formal communications such as news and leadership communications by commenting, sharing and liking. This can be an important mechanism for driving dialogue and asking for feedback on initiatives and topics.

Blogs and other user-generated content

Social intranets open up publishing for everybody, ensuring everyone has a voice. Typically, on a social intranet, employees can post blogs, localised items relating to their own team (news), user-generated videos and even photos. The chance of finding a cat video  on a social intranet will be much higher than a traditional intranet!

Social networking features

Many social intranets include social networking features such as the ability to follow colleagues, use @mentions and add #hashtags. These can be very useful in utilising social networks for messaging and communications.

Communities, groups and discussions

A core component of a social intranet is support for communities, groups and discussion threads which allow interaction between different employees. Ideally, these should be open for all to view. A social intranet might support professional Communities of Practice, Communities of Interest, user groups for software, Employee Resource Groups and even non-working communities such as sports and hobbies forums.

Employee directory

The employee directory on a social intranet can feel quite different from those typical of a normal intranet, with sections completed by employees to give a more rounded overview of their life both inside and outside work as well as their past experience, providing a profile more like LinkedIn. Their profile might also show their contributions across the intranet.

Polls and surveys

Polls and surveys provide opportunities to solicit the opinions of employees and gather quick feedback on different issues.

Gamification

Gamification is not always a common feature, but some social intranets include gamification elements such as points, badges and leader boards to encourage contributions and other desired behaviours.

Analytics

A good social intranet provides comprehensive analytics on content and engagement in order to deliver insights about user behaviour and opinion.

External social media feeds

Some social intranets include external social feeds from platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. These are usually the corporate feeds used externally by the company.

What are the advantages of a social intranet?

A social intranet can prove to be an excellent investment to help organisations and digital workplace teams meet both strategic and tactical goals. By bringing social collaboration to a key channel accessed by all employees like the corporate intranet, general digital workplace adoption can be given a significant boost. Strategic benefits can include:

  • Supporting a strong employee experience by ensuring every individual employee has a voice to give opinions and publish stories, thus demonstrating that this is encouraged by enabling it via the intranet
  • Supporting a less hierarchical organisational culture by encouraging social interaction and dialogue between all levels
  • Driving a one company culture and sense of community by allowing interactions across different locations
  • Enabling a listening and more inclusive style of leadership and management
  • Facilitating collaboration and a corresponding culture of collaboration
  • Supporting Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) within an organisation
  • Underpinning employee wellbeing through more social interaction.

More operational and tactical benefits can include:

  • Driving adoption and usage of both the intranet and social tools
  • Helping to support ROI in social tools like Yammer
  • Making individual communications more impactful by presenting commenting and discussion as priorities
  • Allowing leadership to get a temperature check of employee sentiment on specific issues
  • Making it easier for employees to communicate with each other by presenting options for contact
  • Supporting networking and strong connections between individual employees
  • Streamlining communications for individuals by aggregating messages across social channels and communities
  • Supporting decentralised publishing on the intranet through blogs and local news publishing
  • Facilitating a range of communities of practice and interest with benefits relating to specific processes, working practices and initiatives
  • Allowing conversations to be presented in context with related content and vice versa, enabling better dissemination of information
  • Enabling user support communities to ask questions relating to different IT tools and HR services.

Need help with your social intranet?

Social intranets can be powerful in supporting engagement, adoption and culture. If you have any questions about implementing a social intranet or want to make your SharePoint intranet more social, then get in touch!

Webinar video: Yammer best practices

85% of Fortune 500 companies are now using Yammer, but we regularly hear about poor adoption and failed implementations. What does Yammer best practice look like? How can you ensure that it works in your organisation?

In this Webinar we’ll share our experience and insights into what makes Yammer succeed within different organisations. Including:

  • Aligning Yammer with your company strategy
  • Establishing the right roles
  • Why and how to run pilots
  • Yammer for Internal Communications
  • Yammer for Leaders

Panelists:

  • Richard Gera, a Digital Communication and Engagement Consultant with a wealth of Yammer experience. This includes rolling out and managing enterprise collaboration as an external consultant and an in-house practitioner.
  • John Scott has worked across both design and technical disciplines – a rare combination that allow him to build a bridge between the user experience and technical teams. This means that feasibility, usability, delivery and ease of maintenance are baked-into all of our solutions.
  • Joe Perry oversees the technical delivery of all Content Formula projects. He works closely with our UX consultants and clients to understand requirements and design appropriate technical solutions.

Webinar: Yammer best practice – 5 tips to help it succeed in your organisation

Update: Watch webinar video “Yammer best practices”

Webinar details

Date:  16th June 2021
Time:  2:00pm UK time

85% of Fortune 500 companies are now using Yammer, but we regularly hear about poor adoption and failed implementations. What does Yammer best practice look like? How can you ensure that it works in your organisation?

In this Webinar we’ll share our experience and insights into what makes Yammer succeed within different organisations. Including:

  • Aligning Yammer with your company strategy
  • Establishing the right roles
  • Why and how to run pilots
  • Yammer for Internal Communications
  • Yammer for Leaders

Panelists:

  • Richard Gera, a Digital Communication and Engagement Consultant with a wealth of Yammer experience. This includes rolling out and managing enterprise collaboration as an external consultant and an in-house practitioner.
  • John Scott has worked across both design and technical disciplines – a rare combination that allow him to build a bridge between the user experience and technical teams. This means that feasibility, usability, delivery and ease of maintenance are baked-into all of our solutions.
  • Joe Perry oversees the technical delivery of all Content Formula projects. He works closely with our UX consultants and clients to understand requirements and design appropriate technical solutions.

Register now!

 

16 ways you can integrate Microsoft 365 functionality into your intranet

Updated for 2021

Many businesses have moved to Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365), but still think of their intranet as something separate that sits alongside it. However, the Microsoft 365 apps can be cleverly integrated and embedded into your intranet (and your LiveTiles intranet), giving you the following benefits:

  • Drive adoption of Microsoft 365 apps and the intranet at the same time
  • Improve efficiency and usability
  • Continually add value as Microsoft rolls out new features and changes

So, how specifically can you integrate Microsoft 365s many apps and capabilities in your intranet?

 

1. Use Delve and Microsoft Graph to give employees a list of their recently accessed documents

List of recent documents with Microsoft graph

Microsoft Graph is the technology that tracks everything you do in Microsoft 365. You might find that scary, but its really useful. It enables Delve to highlight relevant content to you, and if you go to portal.office.com you will see a list of the documents that you recently accessed.

Its pretty easy to then add this feed to your intranet homepage, making it more useful and personally relevant to all your employees. Weve added this as an additional feature in LiveTiles.

 

Get in touch to discuss your project

 

2. Use Yammer for questions and answers (Q&A)

use yammer as a questions and answers feature on your intranet

Yammer is great for conversations around all sorts of topics within a business, but it seems quite separate from SharePoint and the intranet. However, it doesnt have to be this way. Its completely possible to use the powerful Yammer functionality to house discussions within your intranet including asking questions.

When someone posts a question, anyone can answer but the person posing the question or an administrator can then choose the best answer. This means that people looking for the same information in the future can more easily find it.

This is a much better way to answer common questions from your internal customers than a traditional email, because you avoid answering the same question multiple times.

 

3. Add interactive PowerBI dashboards and bring data to life

build power bi dashboards into your sharepoint intranet

PowerBI is a fantastic app that allows you to build dashboards and custom reports which are fed from lots of different data sources financial systems, CRMs, inventory management or Excel spreadsheets. You can build and view the reports within the PowerBI app, but why stop there? There’s a PowerBI webpart for SharePoint Online, allowing you to easily publish reports into your intranet pages. The only catch is that people must have a PowerBI pro licence to view the reports.

 

4. Create a learning & development area using Stream

using microsoft stream as a learning platform

For years and years, video platforms for intranets were really lacking. But, things have changed and I talked about a new hope for intranet video at IntraTeam in Copenhagen.

Its now completely possible to deliver high quality video content to your employees via laptop, tablet or mobile. With Stream (Microsoft 365s video platform) you can do this quickly and easily. The app converts and optimises your videos for you and allows you to arrange them into searchable channels.

But did you know that you can also embed the videos into your intranet pages? Meaning you can embed them within guidelines or policies. You could even create a dedicated training or learning and development site with chaptered video content.

We created an Office 365 learning centre for Johnson Matthey on their intranet all powered by Stream.

Recently Microsoft rolled out new features including the ability to lightly edit videos, and to create videos by recoding your screen. See this page for the latest Stream info including upcoming features.

5. Create a blogging platform using Communication sites

blogging in communication sites in microsoft 365

Unfortunately, Microsoft retired the blogging feature within Delve, but there is still a way to blog in Microsoft 365. You can use a Communication site to build a blog portal where, rather than posting news articles, you use the same features to publish blog posts.

This benefits from 365s modern UI for content publishing which is much easier and more satisfying to use than the traditional SharePoint publishing tools. If you want to take things further, you can even create a blog network using multiple communication sites connected to a hub site.

How to set up a communication site as a blog

 

6. Relay important messages to employees using bots in Teams

relay important intranet messages in teams using a bot

With so many employees now using Microsoft Teams as their primary work and collaboration tool, its a great place to reach them with important announcements that they may have previously seen on the intranet.

Its possible to create a bot for Teams that sends people a message with important updates or actions that they need to take e.g. Compulsory training.

You can connect the bot to Power Automate Flows and write rules that ensure the right people get the messages that are most pertinent to them.

 

7. Manage projects using Office 365 Planner

plan projects in microsoft 365 planner

Some companies use SharePoint team-sites for project management and others use Microsoft Project. However, if you are looking for a middle ground something that is better for tracking tasks than SharePoint, but not as heavy duty as Project then Planner is worth a look.

Microsoft 365 Planner allows you to quickly create projects, organise tasks into buckets and assign them to different team members. It can be used across desktop, tablet and mobile.

You can associate a plan with a Microsoft Team and allow people to track and update tasks there, but also add information on tasks in SharePoint too

Heres a great intro to Planner

 

Get in touch to discuss your project

 

8. Surface your intranet in Teams

surface your intranet in Microsoft Teams

Its been a big year for Teams. The pandemic has meant lots of home working and many companies have gone from experimenting with Teams to fully depending upon it. Employees have also become comfortable with Teams and it has become an app more central to their workday.

All of this means that its a great place to reach people with your intranet content news, policies, how-to guidance etc.

You can do this a few ways: You can add your intranet as a tab within a Team or multiple Teams, you can build a simple app to appear in the left ribbon (or ask us to!), you could buy software like LiveTiles or wait to see what capabilities Microsoft Viva brings in this space.

9. Use chat bots to provide everyone with a personal concierge

integrated chat bot in sharepoint

Chat bots are Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered assistants that you can interact with via a text chat interface. You might ask them to find you a policy, book a meeting room or check the weather forecast.

Chat bots are a hot topic in the intranet world at the moment because they have reached a level of maturity where they can be useful, but also they are much easier to configure. You no longer have to be an AI boffin to train bots and make them more helpful.

Microsofts bot, Luis, can be embedded on your SharePoint intranet via a chat interface. We have rolled out a bot for UK accountancy firm, Haines Watts.

 

10. Work live on intranet information at the same time using Office Online

Office Online integration with SharePoint

Anywhere in Microsoft 365, whenever you click on a Microsoft Office document that document will open in a new browser tab within Office Online. Office Online includes the web app version of Word, PowerPoint and Excel that runs within your web browser.

But, were you aware that you can click the Edit button and make changes to the file directly in the browser? Not only that, but other people can edit the same document at the same time, and you even can see their changes appearing right in front of you.

There are many opportunities to make use of this neat functionality on your intranet. You could use these files to collect information from multiple people at the same time using a shared excel spreadsheet. Or, you could create a knowledge base / wiki which is based on set of word documents. The contents will be indexed by search so people will easily find the content later.

 

11. Create an approval workflow for policies using Power Automate Flows

 

create approval workflows with power automate flow

Building workflows for your SharePoint intranet used to be quite tricky. Power Automate is the Microsoft 365 app that was designed to fix that. Creating workflows – known simply as Flows – in Power Automate is much more straightforward. It offers integrations with other apps outside of SharePoint and even outside of Microsoft 365, like Dropbox for example.

A really common workflow that companies often want to implement is one for approval of content before its published. Check out this video for a step by step tutorial for building an approval workflow in Flow.

 

Get in touch to discuss your project

 

12. Build an app for field workers using Power Apps

build-sharepoint-integrated-apps-for-field-workers-with-powerapps

Many organisations struggle with how to make their intranet relevant and useful to field workers people not based at a desk. This can be factory workers, delivery agents, sales reps and so on. Most of these workers do not have laptops, but many have tablets or mobile devices.

Power Apps is a tool that allows you to build apps for these staff to use on their mobile devices. The apps could allow them to enter information about a customer they just visited, or log maintenance problems with machinery on the production line. Also, that app can be integrated directly with SharePoint to share this information with other people in your business via the intranet.

We ran a webinar about PowerApps and how it could support your business.

In this step-by-step tutorial video, Microsoft show you how to build an app using Power Apps. Their example scenario is a secret shopper app for clothing retail stores.

See whats new in PowerApps in 2021

 

13. Keep in touch with customers using Dynamics 365

Dynamics 365 integration with SharePoint

You may already have a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) suite, but you should really take a look at Dynamics 365.

Dynamics 365 allows you to do all the regular things that youd expect from a CRM: Keep data on customers, integrate with your website etc. However, being based in Microsoft 365 means that it integrates really well with other apps like SharePoint. Dynamics 365 uses SharePoint for storing its documents and can be easily connected to your SharePoint intranet search. This means that your employees wont have to jump between different systems to find the information they need.

Here are 13 reasons why you should use Dynamics 365 as your CRM.

 

14. Run an employee survey using Forms

using microsoft forms for an employee survey

Its often necessary to collect information from your users on your intranet from booking a training course to requesting stationery. You can do this with SharePoint lists, but its a bit difficult to configure and not very easy to use for employees.

Say hello to Forms. Forms allows you to build attractive and usable forms with a simple drag and drop interface.

The forms you create can then be embedded in a range of locations on Microsoft 365, including within your SharePoint intranet pages. You can then use Power Automate Flows to move the captured information through a business process.

Watch this video to get started with Forms.

If Forms is too basic for your needs, then Microsofts upcoming Viva product and its integration with Glint employee survey software will probably be of interest. Using these tools youll be able to get much more detailed insights on your employee experience.

 

15. Craft beautiful sales aids using Sway

creat-beautiful-sales-aids-with-sway-and-sharepoint

Many companies have sales reps out in the field, talking to customers and evangelising products and services. Traditionally they are provided with material to help them explain the products or services to their leads. Sometimes these sales aids are expensive custom apps built for tablet devices, but often they are just a few lacklustre PowerPoint presentations or pamphlets.

Sway is an Microsoft 365 app that allows you to quickly build web app that conveys information using mixed media and a simple interface. Without any need to touch computer code, you can create a set of content that is beautifully structure and presented, but can include written content, images, videos, charts and graphs. With a built in menu system it also allows you to take the customer on a journey through the information that is unique to them, rather than flicking through a generic linear PowerPoint presentation.

You can manage access to all your Sway presentations from your SharePoint intranet.

Get started with Sway using this video tutorial.

 

16. Allow your employees to jump into their Teams from the intranet homepage

Microsoft-Teams-integration-with-SharePoint

Thanks to Microsoft Graph and the Microsoft Teams API – it’s possible to display a list of each employee’s Teams on the SharePoint intranet homepage. This helps to make the intranet more of a personalised and useful daily work tool – presenting the employees with a quick and easy way to access their Teams. This enhancement requires a bit of coding, but it’s something we have added to the capabilities of LiveTiles – as well as a few custom intranets for our customers.

 

Get in touch to discuss your project

 

How to use Yammer for internal communications?

Yammer is a fantastic tool that is increasingly used by internal communications as part of their digital communication tool set. Yammer is not primarily designed for use by internal communicators, its actually a social collaboration platform that everyone can use, but it allows for a more personal and informal approach to communication.

Yammer offers strong opportunities to drive an  informal and impactful approach to messaging, particularly for leaders. It also allows you  to engage staff through dialogue and asking for feedback, an element particularly important for some engagement-led campaigns. Yammer can further boost more formal messaging on other channels such as your intranet.

In this article, were going to look at seven tips for using Yammer that can help internal communicators get the best out of the tool.

Work out how Yammer fits with your other digital channels

Yammer is a versatile tool that can be used for internal communications, engagement, gathering feedback, Q&As, employee resource groups, Communities of Practice and more. Because it is so flexible, it really helps to define how it relates to the other digital communication channels you have at your fingertips, and in particular what it brings to your digital communications strategy. Spending some time to define how internal communicators can best use Yammer for messaging or to amplify items on other channels can help everybody get the best out of it.

One way to do this is to define a digital communications matrix that sets out message type, purpose and intended audience, and matches these to the best tools to use. For example, perhaps Yammer is the best place  for peer shout-outs and targeting success stories to specific groups, while also amplifying more formal communications that are on your intranet. By giving some thought to the detail, you can encourage  effective Yammer usage.

Encourage participation and dialogue

Although Yammer is  not really a formal IC channel, it can be a very effective way to get people to engage with themes and topics in an  informal and natural way that often resonates better than more traditional, corporate news. For example, if your CEO wants to get a message across about a topic like sustainability, wellbeing or purpose, then this could work well as a Yammer discussion. During the pandemic, a more discursive, empathetic and informal approach to some employees communications has  worked consistently well.  Yammer also creates the possibility of dialogue – a far more engaging and valuable communication process that delivers useful insights for leaders.

Integrate Yammer across Microsoft 365

One huge advantage of Yammer is that its part of Microsoft 365, making it super easy to integrate with other 365 tools such as Microsoft Teams and SharePoint. This not only makes it easier for employees to access Yammer from multiple places within your digital workplace, but also means you can present Yammer threads and messages in context with other content. For example, you can embed a Yammer feed from a particular group as a tab in a relevant Teams space, or  into an appropriate SharePoint page on your intranet.

Integrating Yammer with other Microsoft 365 tools is a powerful tactic for internal communications because it not only means messages are more likely to be read because they are  directly in the flow of work, but you can also add value to  Yammer conversations themselves. For example, if you have an engagement-led campaign around some themed content, an embedded Yammer feed can work well on the relevant SharePoint intranet page.

Use hashtags and @mentions

Never forget that Yammer is a social tool, so you can use hashtags and @mentions to help broaden message and conversation reach, bringing key people into the discussion and allowing employees to follow specific themes.  You can use hashtags centred around different topics to drive hashtag campaigns and encourage more people to communicate, and you can display  discussion feeds based on individual hashtags.

For example, if you were building an engagement campaign around customer service, you could ask people to contribute their customer success stories using the hashtag #keepthecustomersatisfied. You could then compile a Yammer feed of all posts with that hashtag on a thread displayed in the customer service area of your intranet.

Work out your Yammer groups for internal communications

Yammer is designed to be  an organic platform that evolves naturally with employee need; it is intended to allow people to create new groups quickly and easily. When you want to use Yammer as a core IC channel, you generally need to take a more structured approach to creating the right group to match messaging needs. For example, you might want to create a specific all-company feed for news and announcements, and match key groups for specific communications targeted to different locations and divisions. You may also want to create specific groups for less formal types of communication like employee and peer shout-outs and success stories, or have themed channels around your company values.

When you create these Yammer groups, another element to consider will be whether some or even all employees are  entered into these groups by default so they can  automatically view the messages posted.

One tip is  not to create too many Yammer groups, as this can cause confusion and make it harder to find the right discussions.

Keep governance light

When you use Yammer for internal communications, you can expect to receive opinions and reactions. This is  one of the strengths of the platform, and you want to generally make sure you keep any governance of Yammer  light so it doesnt impede peoples ability to access or post messages.

A few years ago, when Yammer and enterprise social networks were less mature, it made some risk-averse stakeholders nervous about misuse. Actually, the overwhelming experience of  Yammer usage is that you can trust employees when using it. Generally, the only pieces of governance you need to have in place are:

  • Making sure all contributions are attributable with no anonymous posting
  • Making sure there is a process to report misuse or questionable posts, with clarity about what happens subsequently
  • Having a social media usage policy that people have to sign up to
  • Having a clear owner and admin for each group.

With these steps in place, you minimise the risk of misuse. Some of these, like assigned group admins, are built into the management of the platform.

Coach your leaders

Yammer can be an excellent tool for leadership communications, allowing your C-suite and senior management team to deliver more informal and personal communications, as well as interact with employees. Here, senior leaders can get a real impression of employee sentiment which can be both insightful and refreshing. Certain formats such as sharing videos, seeking feedback and even organising Ask Me Anything sessions can all work.

Interacting on Yammer doesnt always come naturally for senior leaders, so its  worth spending time  coaching your leaders to give them the know-how and confidence to communicate on the platform. When they are comfortable, it can genuinely revolutionise the way they communicate with employees. In turn, these good habits and behaviours can  trickle down to other layers of management for even wider impact.

Yammer for internal communicators

Yammer is an excellent tool  for both employees and  internal communicators, and we hope youve found these tips useful. If youd like to discuss how Yammer fits in with your digital communication strategy, then get in touch!

Yammer vs Teams infographic

Yammer vs Teams infographic

Also read our article “Yammer versus Teams: which tool should I use”

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