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More Than A Lift and Shift For An Educational Organization

Kent ISD

Education organization based in Grand Rapids, MI aimed to transform corporate communication and facilitate an improved employee experience by using Bulb Digital’s expertise in creating a comprehensive plan for a new intranet on a modern platform.

The Problem

The internal communications experience at Kent ISD left employees feeling frustrated and disconnected. The organization was feeling the disadvantages of not having an interactive team. Not only did employees lack a central place to access information, but they didn’t have an intuitive way to search for information, documents, or people. Internal communication was suffering and that was reflected in recent employee satisfaction surveys.

Since the intranet was first built over 10 years ago and before a period of large organizational growth, it no longer suited them in a meaningful way. It lacked content that was currently relevant. At the same time, the amount of old content in existence was daunting, as those who managed the intranet feared it would clutter the new site. Kent ISD knew from experience that they needed to spend extra time up-front in order to produce a well-organized site that would be functional to employees and easier to maintain in the long-run.

Additionally, the old intranet was on-premise and hadn’t seen significant updates in over a decade. When looking into upgrading the existing on-premise implementation, they determined that moving to SharePoint Online would a more efficient approach since they were already fully licensed. The main question was how should they approach moving to SharePoint Online.

  • Employees had a poor perception of internal communication and staff interactivity
  • Current intranet structure and content was outdated and stale
  • Maintaining on-premise SharePoint required too much specialized experience and resources

The Approach

Kent ISD partnered with Bulb Digital to audit their existing content and organize thinking around future content delivery to employees. We took the following approach:

1. Discover

We started with a kickoff exercise with the project team to align on project goals and timeline. We conducted a thought exercise to engage the team and obtain their true desires, needs, but also worries so we can address real pain points while mitigating potential pitfalls. The next step was to conduct in-depth discovery via user interviews across departments. We facilitated listening sessions with individuals who were responsible for creating and/or communicating content, whether they maintained content on the current site, or needed space on the future site. We helped them identify types of content that should be considered for the new portal so that we could design a space for it. We also met with IT to review current license set up in order to provide analysis on the current state and future state while identifying any gaps.

2. Content Assessment, Site Structure, and Navigation Design

Our approach is never to lift and shift. This is an opportunity for our client to improve their process flows, expectations, and classifications. We supplied both a framework and a proven strategy to gather and organize our client’s information. Our comprehensive audit of both the organization as a whole, and the current portal content was used to help inform what needed a space on the future intranet. Once all content was assessed, we conducted a card sorting workshop with the project team. This workshop provided insight into how Kent ISD uniquely organizes their content and informed our design of the navigation and site structure for the future intranet. Once our team created draft site structure and navigation, we validated those plans with the full project team. The continuous communication and feedback loops we established with the team from Kent ISD allowed us to incrementally improve plans throughout the project.

3. Final Plan Forward

Our team delivered a detailed document which accompanied a final presentation of a plan for the new intranet and migration strategy. This plan included: 

  • Assessment of how users communicate currently, including any needs that aren't currently being met
  • Review of current license set up and analysis of any gaps for the desired future state
  • Audit of current intranet content as well as content needed on the future site
  • Customized navigation plan complete with a mockup visual
  • Custom information architecture & metadata design
  • Visualization for the recommended outcome
  • Detailed chronological steps and educational links so that Kent ISD could successfully achieve their desire of continuing with the intranet migration on their own

In addition to the final plan and steps forward, we delivered the project artifacts including meeting recordings, slide decks, and whiteboard exercises. This allows Kent ISD to refer back to any piece of the project process or outcomes later on.

The Results

Kent ISD utilized Bulb's expertise to plan and conceptualize their new intranet utilizing the most current platform, but also embraced our emphasis on helping them gain the knowledge necessary to build out and maintain their intranet going forward.

They successfully launched a new intranet on SharePoint Online after following the plan they received with a positive reception from employees. Kent ISD now has a communications portal plan and strategy and is positioned to dramatically improve their internal communication and employee interactivity, while accomplishing IT's goal of shutting down old servers and being self-sufficient going forward.

I have worked with Bulb since the very beginning as a company. They are great people who have continued to hire great and talented people. I really view them as a partner organization, not someone hired to merely do a job for us. The Bulb team’s insights, integrity and listening to us as customer is always appreciated.

Mark Maynard - Kent ISD