Webinar Recap | Wounded Warrior Project’s Modern SharePoint Intranet

Thank you for your interest in “Wounded Warrior Project Reconnects Remote Workforce with Modern SharePoint Intranet.” If you were able to join us for the webinar, we sincerely thank you for being there. We hope you had as much fun learning about Wounded Warrior Project‘s success with an Out-of-the-Box intranet as our team did sharing the story with you. 

Didn’t get a chance to catch our session live? We’ve got you covered.

This Session:

An Intranet may seem like a small piece of the corporate puzzle, but in reality, it can revitalize your company from top to bottom. At Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), the company’s large global team was hobbled by an out-of-date Intranet. There was no structure, no oversight, and no collaboration. When the team finally decided to invest in a new Intranet, they wanted to do it right. Listen in as Emily Gray is the Communications Manager at WWP, describes the steps her team took to deliver a new solution⁠—and the incredible benefits that have resulted. 

Episode Takeaways: 

  • Create an Intranet that’s reliable and fun 
  • Involve users at every stage 
  • Enable employees to do it themselves 
  • Monitor usage over time 
  • Increase productivity 
  • Improve onboarding 
  • Enable company-wide collaboration 

Show Links: 

Key Takeaways 

6:12 – Make a wish list 

The WWP team started their Intranet redesign by taking stock of each and every goal. They did not expect SharePoint to meet those requirements, but were pleasantly surprised. 

“So we asked our teammates what they wanted, in terms of all internal communication, not just specifically an Intranet. And that was really key. Because we had to learn what our requirements were before we can start looking for a system. We had to write down what our goals are, even the ones that we didn’t think we could meet. We tried to do ‘stretch goals’ if you will, so that we could push for the greatest success with the most simple execution. And no one was more surprised than I was that SharePoint not only met all of our requirements, but it actually went further than our requirements. It did more than we had even thought of.” 

7:25 – Create an Intranet that’s reliable and fun 

Reliability is key for WWP, whose team is spread across the nation and Europe. But even more than reliability was the desire to create an Intranet that team members looked forward to using. 

“Obviously we wanted something that would build trust back, and would be reliable to teammates. We wanted something that they could engage with, that they could utilize on a daily basis. Something that could house all of our various items across all of our teams. We have multiple program teams in the organization all spread out over 25 different US locations and in Germany. And we needed something that could bring everyone together, and connect the dots if you will. And we want it to be engaging and integrated into the systems that we already had in place. But the most important thing, honestly, was fun. Because we really wanted something that teammates would want to go to. Not something that they had to go to, to find something. Something that they would go to and get excited about.” 

12:54 – Involve users at every stage 

WWP established a group of 75 users to champion and contribute to the new Intranet. Diversified across the organization, this was key to creating a usable solution. It also helped to unofficially roll out the new Intranet before it even went live. 

“At that point we built a POC group, if you will, of 75 teammates from across the organization. And so that’s every different level, every different program, every different team. We had a representative that we lovingly called our Flight Crew, going with the brand guide. And we used them to help us build the site. You know, we got feedback from them. We spend time with them. We learned from what they wanted to do. We got them to kind of be our champions to help us continue to talk about the site. And the more we did that, the easier it was down the road when we launched. Because people were already kind of in the know. And it was much easier with adoption because of that. So users, users, users is my biggest point there. Get everyone involved. Make it for everyone. Because this site that we have is not only user generated content, but it’s user generated structure. It’s user generated creation. And that was really key.” 

16:49 – Break the organizational mold 

WWP’s old Intranet was based on an organizational structure that didn’t make sense for daily use. By figuring out how employees actually used the Intranet, they were able to optimize the new Intranet to meet those needs. 

“So we really spent time with our Flight Crew in not only doing the content audit, but also doing things like a card sort exercise, which would allow us to understand how the user was going to experience the site. You know, our old Intranet was structured directly based on our organizational structure. And so if you were a teammate who was in a program team, and you didn’t necessarily know all of the different things that fell under finance, for example, you wouldn’t know where to go to find those things. And so we broke that mold. And we organized it based on the user experience, as opposed to the organization experience. Which was really key because now people can find things easily.” 

17:44 – Enable employees to do it themselves 

SharePoint has been a fantastic solution for WWP because employees can create and upload content as needed. Training set up by PixelMill made this process supremely simple. 

“The great thing about SharePoint: it’s so easy to use. It’s really easy for anybody. And we were able to break down that fear that they wouldn’t be able to do it themselves. The way that we manage our site is that we actually have all of those people, all of that Flight Crew, self-generating content. We have an approval structure in place so we can maintain consistency. However, we want them to feel creative and be excited about it. And so by doing training and really focusing on that – and PixelMill was a key component to that training. They built that training for us. They helped us deliver it. They gave us feedback. They left us with things that we can continue to train new Flight Crew members. That was really the best way to really implement the entire site.” 

18:52 – Monitor usage over time 

Once your new Intranet is in place, it’s easy to see if employee usage is ticking up. In the case of WWP, they’ve seen consistent growth in usage from day one. 

“We were a little scared that it wouldn’t be adopted right away. We were really wrong. And I love being wrong in that way. Not great at being wrong the other way guys. But I love being wrong in that way. Because from day one, we had everybody in the organization going to our Intranet. If not – definitely once, but multiple times throughout the day. We have had consistent growth month over month in terms of views. And we’ve had consistent feedback from our leadership about how excited they are to use it. We have improved engagement. We’ve definitely improved the way that we speak to each other and how much fun we can have with each other. And we’ve really built back that trust that we really didn’t have before.” 

21:00 – Increase productivity 

A more streamlined Intranet has had clear time-saving benefits for WWP. Less emails mean employees can pay more attention to what matters. 

“We spent a lot of time doing all-staff emails. And when you do so many all-staff emails, people start ignoring them. And so we’ve been able to cut our all-staff meeting emails. It’s probably even more at this point than 35% to be completely honest. But we really have been able to cut down those all-staff emails so that the only emails that we send are really important. And people can pay a lot of attention to them. We also have been able to minimize my team’s kind of workload. Because I can’t tell you how many times a day we would get an email, ‘Hey, where do I find this? Hey, can you send me this? Hey, where’s this document?’ And now, everybody just goes to mission central. And that’s fantastic. Because our productivity as an internal communications team has dramatically increased because of that.” 

24:49 – Enable collaboration 

A big goal at WWP was for SharePoint to help them break down barriers to communication and collaboration. 

“I’ve been with Wounded Warrior Project for seven years. And for the entire time I’ve been here, we’ve been trying to do this. So we really wanted to do it right. And so with that comes a lot of pressure. And a lot of the things that we were really coming up against is, because we’re a program-based organization, everybody’s connected through our mission, but they’re not connected through their program delivery. And so we were very siloed. You know, you’re focused on your day to day. You’re focused on what you’re doing. And there’s so much opportunity for collaboration, but people didn’t know how to get there. They didn’t know how to see that. And so there was no way to really break down some of those barriers, except for getting everybody together in one place. Which is for a nonprofit very difficult to do.” 

26:16 – Improve onboarding 

When new hires join your organization, it’s important to provide them with the resources they need to succeed. That is especially true for WWP, as new employees need to self-educate quickly. 

“A difficult thing for us was new hires. You know, orientation and onboarding, especially in such a mission-based organization, it’s so important that you know everything about everything. Because the second you’re on the phone with a warrior, the second you’re at an event with a warrior, you need to be able to talk about all the different things we do, not just what you personally do. And so we didn’t have a great way of creating an easy way for a new teammate to learn about the entire organization, other than picking up the phone and talking to maybe 50 different people, which can be daunting.” 

32:13 – Give everybody a voice 

Emily’s primary piece of advice to any company undertaking an Intranet overhaul is to give users an opportunity to shape the process. 

“Our Mission Central is built by us, for us. It’s not built by one team. It’s not managed by one team. Everybody has a voice. And there wasn’t anything like that before for our organization. And so really giving the users an opportunity to have a voice in the process of creating. Whether you’re updating something you already have, creating something from scratch, or like us going from something horrible to something brand new – the more that you talk about it to them, the more effective it’s going to be. And the easier the adoption process is going to be. And obviously have fun. That’s the other thing. Something like this can, I’ve been in other organizations where the Intranet is really just a place that you go when you need to get that file or that sign or that poster that you need to print. And people just don’t go there unless they have to. The more fun you build in, and the more excitement you build into it will make people want to go there on a regular basis. And that’s really key to the success.” 

33:52 – Look for a partner, not a vendor

After considering many possible solutions, Emily’s team decided to go with SharePoint because they felt like a true partner in the process. 

“The great thing about this partnership with PixelMill is they became part of our organization. It wasn’t like they were a vendor. And we’ve continued to work with them post-launch. You know, we extended with maintenance and support so that we can continue to grow with them. And the great thing about having a partner who really – it feels like it’s their mission too, to make it great. Which is what PixelMill is. You feel supported. And I can tell you, before this whole process started, I had no knowledge of SharePoint. I knew nothing about it. And being in charge of a project where you have to make all these decisions about something you know nothing about, can be quite daunting. And having that trusted partner in PixelMill, where I could literally just be like, ‘this might be a dumb question, but,” and they were calm and helpful and supportive through the entire journey. And that is the most important thing to find. Because without a partner like that, it’s just going to be you going up a really steep hill by yourself.” 

Join us on Thursday, 6/24 for the next episode of the PixelMill Webinar Series!

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