ICA grows stronger with Omnia

A new group-wide and Omnia-based intranet helps grocery retailer ICA radically improve internal communications across all units and subsidiaries. The new platform enables ICA to stimulate internal collaborations and knowledge-sharing as well as strengthen the Group’s corporate culture, employer branding, and target alignment.

– With Omnia we have for the very first time a single access point for both group-wide and company-specific internal communications. The new intranet will help us significantly improve collaborations and communication between our units and subsidiaries, something that will not only stimulate synergy and innovations within the ICA Group but also strengthen our community and support our development of uniform goals and visions. The solution also makes it easier for us to distribute information to and engage the entire organization. Thanks to the platform’s integration to Microsoft 365 and its user-adapted navigation and information structure, it furthermore facilitates much smoother work processes, says Andreas Keymer, Manager Group Functions IT at ICA Group.

Common platform boosts internal communications

With more than 1,300 stores and a market share of approximately 36 percent, ICA Sverige is the leading grocery retailer in Sweden. Virtually every Swede is well acquainted with this part of ICA. The ICA Group, however, is very much larger and, in addition to ICA Sverige, incorporates Rimi Baltic, Apotek Hjärtat, ICA Fastigheter, ICA Banken and ICA Försäkring. In 2020 the Group had a turnover of SEK 126 billion and around 23,000 employees, of whom about 10,500 work for Rimi in the Baltic region. Including independent ICA stores, the total number of people employed by the ICA enterprise is in the region of 50,000.

The ICA Group previously had a decentralized and patchy intranet in which communications were confined to each individual subsidiary. Management accordingly wanted to create a uniform, transparent, shared and fully integrated communications and collaborations platform for the entire Group. In doing so, their goal was to boost internal collaborations and communications and build a more united and stronger ICA.

Andreas Keymer and his team conducted a thorough analysis designed to identify the organization’s needs of and requirements for a new intranet platform and to map these against a suitable standard solution. One of their most significant conclusions was that the intranet must be readily accessible to all users taking into consideration their specific work roles and IT experience. Another important requirement was that the platform should easily integrate with Microsoft 365, which had previously been established as ICA:s primary work and collaboration application.

– Omnia quickly stood out as being our best fit. The solution’s high performance, page speed, smooth integration with Microsoft 365 and SharePoint-based out-of-the-box capability were some of the features that appealed to us. It’s also very easy to integrate with Teams, which has recently become our main collaboration platform. Today, the intranet is the employees’ default start page in Chrome, but it’s also integrated as an app in Teams, thereby making it even more accessible to users, Andreas points out.

Crucial keys to success

The complexity and scale of the project have required a systematic and business-wide change management process, in large part based on the change management model known as Adkar. In implementing this process, a number of user surveys and information campaigns have been conducted.

– We have, for instance, focussed heavily on creating both an awareness of the need for change and a willingness to change in the organization. In order to reach and get the opinion of our users, we’ve had a steering group working throughout the project, with management representatives together with pilot groups representing all users, Change Management Leader Malin Nyman explains.

Both Malin and Andreas point out that the main challenges have been to engage the whole organization and to get all the decision-makers in ICA:s many units and subsidiaries to agree on a content strategy. On account of the scale of the project and the size of the organization, the new intranet – known as Worknet - took a whole year to complete. Launch date was October 1, 2020. Rollout was then implemented successively to different user groups and units, with each rollout being preceded by numerous pilot tests.

– We’ve had several pilot tests in which different user groups have tested and then answered questions about the intranet’s functionality, user interface and navigation. One pilot group, with thirty users from selected units and with varying work roles, was introduced to the first version of the intranet without any initial information or education. That way we could genuinely explore the system’s user-friendliness and observe users’ spontaneous impression of the intranet, Malin explains.

As part of the program to create awareness, understanding, and a willingness to change, ICA has produced a series of demo videos aimed at managers, with the objective of making them ambassadors of the new intranet. Similar demo videos targeted at HR teams, communicators, and editors have also been produced. As evidence of the success of the project, when asked what they thought about the new intranet, users gave it 8 out of 10 points just two weeks after its first rollout.

– Anchoring the change in the organization well before the launch by using steering and reference groups, pilot tests, and demo videos – this has undoubtedly been key to the success of the implementation, Malin concludes.

Strengthened community and engagement

Among the primary goals of the new intranet was the speeding up of digitalization, the elimination of inefficient channels, and the strengthening of ICA:s corporate culture, community and employee branding across the whole organization. To further stimulate social engagement and conversations, ICA is now considering the implementation of closer integration between the intranet and Yammer.

– The new platform helps us move away from paper-based communications and other inefficient channels, such as notice boards. Our internal e-mailing has also dropped considerably since the new intranet was launched. The personal user experience in Worknet, combined with the ease of finding information and our group-wide collaborations and communications spaces, will also boost engagement and our corporate culture. To encourage social conversations across company borders and units, we’re currently exploring integration options between Worknet and Yammer. Just like Teams, Yammer could also be an access point to Worknet, concludes Andreas.


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