The more than 400-person alumni affairs division of a private New York-based university was dependent on an outdated, text-heavy intranet site built on the ColdFusion platform. The site was meant to be a resource for staff as they connected with alumni, built community, shared news, hosted events and pursued their more than $5 billion dollar fundraising goal.
However, the site lacked an efficient communication platform, unified staff directory, interactive org chart and centralized file storage. The ability to post about departmental news or events was also limited, and not all departments within alumni affairs even had a presence on the site. Any updates to the site could also only be made by a select few with editing rights, leaving the site riddled with outdated information – some resource links hadn’t been updated in over five years.
“During our discovery interviews, people complained that it was unclear where links were going to direct them, who authored a file and when a file was last updated. People struggled to identify who to contact with questions, so much so that they didn’t even use the intranet,” the Sr. Solution Architect overseeing the site design said. “Their directory was a manually updated Excel file that would become outdated quickly.”
The Blueprint Way
Because the school had an existing M365 license, Blueprint worked with alumni affairs to utilize the power of SharePoint and the Power Platform to create a collaborative intranet platform that’s auto curated, secure and can be accessed on any device to enhance productivity.
The engagement kicked off with 40 stakeholder interviews with different departments, programs and services within alumni affairs. Blueprint then set out to design and build an entirely new intranet that captured the valuable themes of the old site while adding new capabilities to create a single source of truth and a streamlined user experience.
Blueprint transformed the intranet experience into a hub of easy-to-navigate resources for the division. A SharePoint site was created for each of the more than 30 departments to house essential information, including news, current focuses and who to contact about specific topics. These sites were then integrated with the division’s home site, creating the over-arching division-wide intranet. Next, the team set up a Knowledge Base to establish a single source of truth, giving users a one-stop-shop for questions, how-tos, toolkits and instructional information.
Using two SharePoint lists and custom JSON formatting, Blueprint also recreated a custom app the division used to populate personalized lists of links to various apps and information people used every day, including BI reports, Workday, Tableau and HR policies. The division’s existing Excel directory was also imported into a SharePoint list, connected to Active Directory and then formatted to display as easily searchable cards with a photo and contact info.
Blueprint chose a modern SharePoint experience, in part, to leverage its ability to communicate across the division in a more direct, readily consumable way. Because the division relied heavily on email, Blueprint created a leadership team site within SharePoint, enabling the leadership team to post news and announcements that would then populate the division’s intranet homepage. Blueprint also used Power Automate to pull news, announcements and events from other sites within the school, including the campus newspaper, to populate the home page with current content in an aesthetically pleasing way rather than a never-ending string of text.
This new modern intranet enhances the alumni affairs division’s ability to quickly and easily do their jobs, see important announcements and updates and streamline fundraising campaign efforts. The division is also set up for future shifts in strategic priorities with the flexibility and scalability SharePoint offers.