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Project of the Week: Intranet Makeover, British Columbia Style

So here’s the deal. The entire province of British Columbia just gave their government intranet system a complete facelift and let’s just say the result could be an episode of “Pimp Your Site” if that show even existed. Anyways the public servants in BC are now rocking out with an intranet system that includes drupal, social media and many other Gov2.0 essentials.

GovLoop sat down (or e-mailed back and forth) with Kathleen Walsh, Manager of Creative Strategies for British Columbia to see how the whole process went down.

Tell us a little bit about the project and its history.

The BC Public Service, an organization of 30,000 employees across an immense (and gorgeous) province, relaunched its corporate intranet in April 2010. In just 50 working days
from development to production, a tiny team built an interactive intranet to
support employee communications and collaboration. This work was completed
within the existing site budget using an open-source platform.

Obviously you had an intranet before. What worked well with the past version? What were the biggest problems?

@Work already had a robust user base and was the main communications vehicle for the BC Public Service. What worked well on the old site was the use of rich content to attract viewers: corporate announcements, employee profiles, executive updates, videos and audiocasts. Readers participated in weekly polls, and
a comment board was most visited portion of the site.

The biggest problem was that the old platform wasn’t designed to support social media – though increasingly @Work’s audience and executive had an appetite for it. We posted employee “blogs” for the Beijing and Vancouver Olympics, which were manually uploaded but popular, and we had also demonstrated the value of a
corporate wiki by piloting an acronym wiki on SharePoint.

How big was the team? How long did the redesign take?

The heavy lifting on the redesign was done by a core team of three people doing development, theming, and business analysis. We also had the support of a graphic designer, project manager, team lead and hosting solutions teams.

What technology did you use? Was it all Drupal? How much customization did you do?

We used Drupal core and customized several modules, particularly to create enhanced commenting (on various types of content), a corporate wiki, and dynamic content feeds to the home page from other portions of the site (i.e. most discussed, highest rated, most viewed).

What was the thought process in selecting Drupal an open-source technology?

Drupal was chosen for three key reasons:

1. Social media capacity – Drupal core both supports the social media components we wanted and has capacity for multiple administrators if we move to more distributed content ownership.

2. Budget – Because there were no licensing fees, the redesign was achievable within the existing site budget with minimal investments in training.

3. Timeline – Leveraging some of the work done by another B.C. government agency using Drupal helped the @Work team meet an aggressive timeline.

You are about to roll-out BC-wide. What are some of your techniques to build adoption?

We involved the site audience in the redevelopment to help build adoption. We told readers what was going on and what stages we were at, we invited their feedback, ran reader polls, had BC Stats do a survey (including non-site users), and we used employee feedback to help inform our choices. We also consulted cross-government stakeholder groups as we developed the information architecture and design and in user acceptance testing. We did a soft launch to these groups.

Since the launch, we’ve held a site treasure hunt, published video site tours, posted articles and wikis on the enhancements already completed and in progress, and started and commented on discussion topics. A community manager helps respond to questions quickly and events like “Wiki Wednesday” are in the works to continue to increase participation. Early results? The volume of comments and the number of employees commenting have more than doubled in the first 30 days.

Besides Vancouver, tell us about BC generally and its awesomeness. I heard Victoria the capital is beautiful.

B.C. generally? You gotta be here. Outside my window in Victoria? Emerald lawns, sunshine on the sea, and a
blue skys full of seagulls. One province over, it’s snowing: the wet, cold, miserable kind. I can commiserate… it’s snowing here too: cherry blossoms.

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Robin Howe

We haven’t yet contributed back to the community but we have every intention of doing so. We just need to find the time. 😉