Omnia-based intranet “The Hive” unifies Catalyst Housing
Housing association Catalyst has improved internal communications and united its organization with a new Omnia-based intranet. The solution facilitates smooth organizational fusion and improved accessibility to Catalyst’s digital workplace with enhanced findability, productivity and mobility.
”Our Omnia-based intranet has radically improved our productivity as it’s now much easier to find relevant and accurate information. In contrast to how it was before all our work tools, shared documents and other common information is now accessible via a single entry point. This includes business-critical information and other resources which our employees need constantly, like procedures, policies and forms. Having it all in one place eliminates the risk of duplicates and unreliable outdated information. The new consolidated intranet platform has also played a key role in bridging the former organization of Catalyst together with Aldwyck Housing Group, when Aldwyck merged with Catalyst in 2019”, says Parveen Agnihotri, Internal Communications Manager at Catalyst Housing.
Merger prompted platform upgrade
Catalyst is a not-for-profit business and one of the UK’s leading housing associations with over 37,000 homes in London and the Home Counties. The company builds, regenerates and provides a wide range of social and affordable housing options, including homes for sale, shared ownership and rent. With more than 1200 employees, all driven by a strong social purpose, Catalyst creates safe, sustainable and environmentally friendly communities and neighbourhoods.
Catalyst’s previous intranet platform was a SharePoint-based self-developed solution. It was out-of-date, lacked a lot of functionality and required internal IT expertise for solving simple publishing or layout needs. In 2019 Catalyst and Aldwyck Housing Group merged, which actualized the need for a change of intranet platform. The new group needed a consolidated platform to unify the two organizations into one.
“When we merged the need for a new shared cloud-based intranet, in which all common documents, internal information and other resources are easily accessible for everyone, became abundantly clear. We wanted a standard intranet platform which is easy to adapt and publish information on and doesn’t require the help of IT experts to execute basic publishing and layout operations. It was also important that the platform would integrate seamlessly with Microsoft 365. During our tendering process Omnia really stood out from the competition as the platform that could serve our needs best”, says Janice Swart, SharePoint Developer & Administrator at Catalyst Housing.
Launching The Hive just in time for long-term isolation
The implementation, carried out by Omnia’s UK-based implementation partner CPS, started in late August 2019. The new intranet was launched in the beginning of December, just three months before COVID-19 forced the British people into isolation and remote working.
“We were lucky to have the intranet up and running in good time before we all had to switch to remote working. The platform’s importance and business-critical value was accentuated by the pandemic. It has really helped us to efficiently merge the two organizations as it facilitates smooth and organization-wide communication and collaboration. Being the hub for all internal information, news, tools and processes, the intranet has also been instrumental in terms of keeping up the organization’s productivity during the pandemic. Having it all in one place has made it so much easier for our employees to access and find relevant information and other resources, thus boosting their efficiency”, Parveen points out.
Parveen explains that the same item of information, like a policy statement or a procedure, could previously be found in many different places and in various versions. That made it difficult for the users to find the information and to verify its accuracy. With everything consolidated and accessible via a single interface there’s only one version of the truth and one way to find it.
Improved findability, accessibility and mobility
Catalyst’s Document Management System is built on SharePoint Online and is integrated with Omnia, thereby making all documents accessible and shareable through the intranet. As part of the implementation project Catalyst has invested a lot of time in creating new content and scrubbing old, duplicated and redundant information and documents. The implementation team has also built a new information and navigation structure in order to improve findability and make the digital workplace easier to navigate.
“The merger created a new and larger organization demanding a completely new information structure. Most of the intranet’s content has also been recreated or built from scratch. We first decided which content to populate the intranet with and then designed the navigational structure for best user experience. It proved a good strategy. The users are very happy with the new intranet and appreciate its straightforward navigation, ease-of-use, attractive modern layout and, not least, its enhanced accessibility. Our former intranet didn’t allow for mobile access whereas the new platform works fine on any device”, Janice concludes.