Customer Solution Case Study
Harrods Uses Intranet Technology to Improve Workforce Communications
“We decided to use the Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 intranet architecture because it offered so many of the features we needed.”
Kieron Bissett, People Management Applications Manager, Harrods
Leading retailer Harrods needed a collaboration platform for its 8,000 staff in the United Kingdom (U.K.) to improve processes. It worked with Microsoft Partner ICS Solutions, which deployed the solution in just four months using Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010. The system offers robust security for regulatory compliance, enhances communication, and is saving £75,000 (U.S.$120,000) a year in print costs.
Harrods, whose flagship department store is the largest in London, is a brand with almost two centuries of history. It is also among the principal tourist attractions in the capital city. The company has more than 330 business units and a diverse workforce of around 8,000 people from 50 countries. Until recently, many of the part-time staff were not connected to the communications and collaboration server. In addition, around half the employees at the Knightsbridge store are not directly employed by Harrods—it recruits contractors during peak periods, such as Christmas and New Year.
Managers at the 4.5-acre store decided they needed to upgrade the intranet to overcome the challenge of engaging with this diverse workforce and business units. A secondary objective was to cut the annual cost of using traditional print media to keep staff informed.
Harrods management also wanted to improve key performance indicators around staff engagement—for example, to get more value out of annual staff surveys. The company decided to use the intranet as the main channel through which to centralise all news and information.
Moreover, Harrods needed to comply with new U.K. legislation, which determined that all staff should have access to the same benefits and information regardless of employment status. It decided to create two environments with different functionalities—with read and write capabilities on its intranet, but read-only on its secure extranet. And, although separate, the platforms needed to be synchronised to ensure consistency.
Harrods turned to Microsoft Gold Partner ICS Solutions and requested a proposal for an intranet built on Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. Kieron Bissett, People Management Applications Manager, Harrods, says: “ICS Solutions was right for the project due to its proven expertise and knowledge of SharePoint technology.”
As part of the evaluation, a proof of concept was conducted for key stakeholders about what could be achieved with different versions of SharePoint technology. With help from ICS Solutions, Harrods decided to deploy Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010 with the Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 development system and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 data management software.
The implementation took ICS Solutions just four months and was delivered on time and within budget. The partner developed a customised layout for Harrods that reflected the brand’s identity and functionality needs, including a custom site map, an RSS feed aggregator, and Web Parts. Among the Web Parts built within the intranet is the People Directory with contact information for each employee. The directory uses Business Connectivity Services in SharePoint Server 2010, and allows users to update profiles, which then feed back into related business systems. Autocomplete functionality provides instant real-time access to employee details.
The use of wiki pages is another aspect of the solution. Alan Loughnane, Project Leader, ICS Solutions, says: “The design helps any user create a page and share content, strengthening the spirit of community among staff. To keep the content layout consistent, a range of HTML wiki templates was made available.”