On July 13th, Microsoft held a panel webinar with their customer, Shire – a recognized leader in rare diseases, along with numerous Office 365 MVPs (full panelist list below). We got to hear how they planned, built and use their beautiful and engaging digital workspace – The Hub – to help inform and engage everyone throughout the company in a consistent, sustainable way.
The panelists highlight the importance of governance throughout the project, describe numerous business cases, and cover the use of innovations including SharePoint communication sites, leveraging the SharePoint Framework (SPFx), multi-column page support, new web parts and page capabilities – all used to create rich and compelling sites to achieve their desired outcomes.
I was fortunate enough to act as Mark of Ceremony (MC) for the webinar and hear first-hand how they achieved the rollout AND the successful use of their modern, functional intranet. Below you’ll see both the full, on-demand webinar video (a fun, informative 60 minutes), plus expanded written thoughts across some of the top-level items covered, with links provided by our MVPs to additional materials to further your learning.
“The more we facilitate our employees to get information faster, to be more productive, the more that they can do to push therapies towards our patients."
-- Nicole Rojas - Head of Digital Communications, Shire.
With Office 365 and SharePoint, Shire built their digital workspace with a key focus on content governance. Their goal was not to limit and secure the content, but to ensure it is curated in a consistent, compelling, discoverable way. They recently completed their largest acquisition to-date, quadrupling the size of their global workforce. Thus, they needed an intranet that worked for them during this expansion and beyond to keep everyone productive and connected.
Their vision is to provide a modern, secure communications and collaboration platform to their mobile workforce; this was their North Star – something they could use to guide change for how people work at Shire. They then chose to embrace the leading edge – to use the latest releases from Microsoft.
Here are their key approaches to strategy and planning:
Below are two screenshots from Shire’s intranet:
Alongside modern team sites for collaboration, Shire is an early adopter for the new SharePoint communication sites in Office 365 – to help tell their stories to each other, with broad reach built in. In the webinar, they describe sites that are “fit for purpose” and could easily adopt the evolving technology. Every site, and the information within, is then accessible via the SharePoint home in Office 365 and the SharePoint mobile apps. These both offer good user experiences and increase visibility and engagement.
Shire saw communication sites as a great solution for IT business partners, too, to present to their clients. They give various business owners something beautiful, that allows them to focus on the content in a timely fashion without worry to design or development. They noted that the consistency with web part usage across team and communication sites was important – for consistency of how people used the tools to achieve what they needed. And for the budget side of the business, a resulting high return on investment.
Here are two in-production communication sites at Shire – each a great use cases:
Mobility, too, was a key portion of what they wanted for their internal communications - to broadly reach their users across devices without a ton of work to make pages and web parts responsive, it just all works and reflows on mobile out-of-the-box so users remain productive and up to date on the go; you can install the SharePoint mobile app for iOS, Android and Windows Mobile.
You can read more about Sue Hanley’s thoughts and guidance on communication sites in her two related articles:
In the middle of the webinar, we turned to discuss their approach on design and development. And per their governance practices, Shire first looks to see if the desired functionality is provided by Microsoft out-of-the-box AND is it worth spending time and budget with clear ties to a key business outcome. Once decided, they aim to align with user interface patterns found throughout Office 365, to facilitate a consistent end user experience.
It, too, was important for them to be able to create highly reusable components. This not only made it easier to scale and futureproof, it also allowed them to thoughtfully include legacy applications, on-premises development and even considerations for hybrid – mapping to the what’s possible in the cloud, or for future app migration.
Shire approaches the now and the what’s coming with an evolutionary mindset. They evolve not only with what tech is rolling out, they assess and reassess business priorities on a consistent basis. This helps ensure good adoption and alignment across the teams. Knowing what’s coming next from Microsoft and what’s needed next by the business guides the internal solution delivery list.
With their future in mind then, toward the end of the webinar, we focused on what each panelist saw as a personal hope and dream– aka, their asks to Microsoft to further round out The Hub through continued value and use of SharePoint and Office 365; I can tell you the engineering ears back in Redmond perked up at this section :smiling_face_with_smiling_eyes:.
Here’s a quick summary of their asks:
A huge thank you to our panelists, for their time, expertise and willingness to share. Each brought a specific talent, each complimenting each other to the benefit of the project and their working environment. If you ask me, all are worth following, to learn more from people who know what they know (and have taken some bumps and bruises so you don’t have to), and are good at sharing:
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