Stora Sköndal is modernizing its digital workplace with SharePoint Online

By rebuilding and moving the intranet to SharePoint Online, the Foundation Stora Sköndal has made its digital workplace more accessible, straightforward and fun to work at. The new solution is also easier to govern and gives the organization better control over its content, looks and functionality.

Our new cloud- and standard-based SharePoint solution has made it easier for us to manage and reshape the intranet ourselves. It’s like night and day compared to our previous self-developed server-based solution. Before, we had to call in the experts if we wanted to make even the smallest change. Today we manage most things ourselves. The new platform has empowered us to create a more modern, accessible and attractive intranet. More employees use the intranet's resources today, as well as read and comment on news and posts. It has definitely boosted the organization’s curiosity and engagement”, says Quality Manager Jessica Berg at the Foundation Stora Sköndal.

In search of a straightforward and cloud-based intranet

Stora Sköndal is a non-profit foundation providing health and residential care, and education. The foundation is also engaged in various research projects and has about 800 employees with operations mainly in Sköndal, Nacka, Tyresö and Vällingby. Its operations include elderly care, preschools, a university, housing for unaccompanied refugee youth, neurological rehabilitation and care for people with disabilities. Through its subsidiary Framtidsutveckling AB, Stora Sköndal is also the initiator of the city development program Framtidens Stora Sköndal, which aims to create a modern, socially sustainable urban district. The district is planned to be ready in 2035 and will then be home or workplace for approximately 10,000 people.

Until a few years ago, Stora Sköndal's IT environment, including the intranet, was mostly on-premises server-based. The intranet was a self-developed SharePoint 2013-based solution that both users and administrators thought was out-of-date, difficult to use and downright unattractive. Among other things, it was difficult to log in to and very costly to alter and keep secure and updated. This led to stale content and declining visits.

In 2018, the management decided to modernize and standardize the IT environment and that most applications should be moved into the cloud to simplify and streamline operations, administration and use. One of the first improvement steps was to introduce Microsoft 365 to selected parts of the organization. After an evaluation, which Precio Fishbone helped Stora Sköndal conduct, it was decided that Microsoft 365 would be implemented throughout the organization and that the intranet platform also needed an upgrade. Their choice fell on SharePoint Online.

“We evaluated several different intranet platforms, but found the standard version of SharePoint Online, which is also included in the Microsoft 365 license, well matched our needs and requirements. We also wanted to do much of the design and construction of the intranet ourselves. Then SharePoint is a very cost-effective, customizable and powerful platform, provided you are prepared to invest time in learning the application”, Jessica emphasizes.

Involve the organization from the start and save time

The implementation of the new intranet began in the spring of 2021. It took about a year to build and was launched throughout the organization in April 2022. The platform itself and the intranet's basic structure were already in place after a month or so. What took time was the development of a new SharePoint- and cloud-based Document Management System, including the re-editing, structuring and migration of old content and the creation of new.

“Our biggest challenge during the implementation project was the lack of internal resources and time. It was only I and my closest colleague Sofie Ursäter who worked on the project. We designed the intranet and cleaned, categorized and migrated old content and created most of the new material. With hindsight, it would have been better if there had been more hands on deck and if we had spent more time on pre-studies and involved the users from the start. We were too eager to get started and began designing the intranet without listening to the users first”, Jessica explains.

Jessica says that if they had done a proper pre-study before starting to build and involved a reference group from the start, with employees representing all user groups, the project would have been more efficient. Overlooking this, they have had to redo a lot of work, which has taken an unnecessary amount of time and caused some frustration.

“To those about to implement a new intranet, I warmly recommend investing adequate time in preparatory work! Find out what users really want through surveys and in-depth interviews. Ask them to prioritize their needs and figure out what is critical and what is only ‘nice to have’. Then build and launch the intranet with only the most important functions included. The rest of the intranet can be further developed after its up and running. And always with the organization's involvement and approval”, Jessica underlines.

Precio Fishbone helped Stora Sköndal set up and configure the platform in the cloud. The team consisted of SharePoint experts and implementation consultants Jenny Oredsson Lind and Petra Ericsson, as well as project manager Karin Lundberg. A large part of the team's time has been devoted to workshops and trainings to provide Jessica and Sofie with the knowledge and tools they need to manage, administer, structure, populate and design the intranet themselves. The team has also helped with content and document migration and development of the new Document Management System. Precio Fishbone also provides support for and ensures that the platform is up and running 24/7.

Less noise and more relevance

The new intranet works both as an organisation-wide communication platform and as a Quality Management System for all units and processes. All governing documents are available through the intranet and are categorized per unit and process, making them easy to find and understand. Each unit also has its own pages on the intranet for which the respective manager has editorial responsibility. The intranet also includes tools that make it possible for employees to manage their own work roles and competence profiles, as well as sign up for training courses, activities and more.

A big difference compared to before is the ability to direct news and other content to the right user. This leads to the content and the entire intranet being perceived as more relevant and personalized.

“It’s significantly easier to create, publish and lifecycle-manage content on the new platform. This leads to a more vibrant and updated intranet. We can also now better control and personalize the content. This means that employees today only receive information and news that are relevant to them”, notes Jessica.

Stora Sköndal has not yet conducted a user survey after the launch, but Jessica can see that both usage and engagement have increased.

“More employees are regularly visiting the intranet today and participate in various collaborations and discussions. In general, online interaction has increased and we can see that there’s a greater interest in the organization’s common challenges and activities, which strengthens our cohesion in the long run. We also believe that employees communicate less via email and other means of communication, as it’s now much easier to find any type of information they need on the intranet. The traffic boost is probably also partially due to improved accessibility with significantly easier login and a better mobile interface”, says Jessica.