Welcome to the OnSemble Coffee Hour – an ongoing series that brings to you the experience and the knowledge of successful intranet teams.
This week we had the pleasure of engaging in conversation with Nicholas Thom, Chief Financial Officer at First Northern Bank of Wyoming, who has been using OnSemble Employee Intranet since 2016. Nicholas shares with us the moment they decided they needed an intranet, the selection process they followed and his experience with the implementation of an intranet. What follows is a transcript of our conversation with Nicholas lightly edited for clarity and length.
Q. What made First North Bank select OnSemble Employee Intranet?
Nicholas: As part of the project management IT group that we have internally, we brainstorm enhancements and projects for the bank and we implement those projects that are strategically important.One of the issues we were facing then was just forms management and share drives that were just a nightmare. Any time we tried to clean up the shared drives, somebody would save the file locally and so we would have some issues crop up. So, we never really could finally get a good solution to it. That’s when we started evaluating Intranets for their document management and form management capabilities.
We had seen you Passageways at various ICBA events. And you know what, we weren’t considering any other solutions other than yours. Normally we do. But we had a level of comfort knowing that financial institutions were your turf. We had a cross-functional team that thoroughly evaluated OnSemble as the perfect fit.
Q.Who all were involved in the implementation of your new intranet?
Nicholas: It was the same cross-functional team that evaluated the product. The team comprised of different department heads: Our COO, the head of our loan processing, our senior lending officer, operations VP – we had representations from each of our branches as well.
The biggest reason in doing this was that we wanted to get buy-in across the whole organization. We wanted to get all the supervisors involved so that they could then disseminate that information back to their people. We involved all our branches to make sure that whatever we did make sense for the process that all branches had in place.
The cross-functional team and involvement ensured the success of the project after implementation.
Q. When did you launch OnSemble and what was your implementation experience like?
Nicholas: I think it was about 6 months from start to finish. We began mid-year and then made the launch at the start of the New Year. Initially, as we started to explore the platform, we didn’t realize how much customization was possible – which is good.
We had an implementation manager who was really great. She did a great job as far as keep us involved and track. Seeing tons of different examples of other portal designs was very helpful in the sense of knowing how many different options you have – the flexibility of the portal. So that definitely helped. I attended your guy’s PowWOW conference during the implementation, that was helfpul too.
Q.How did the intranet launch play out across different branches?
Nicholas: About 3 months before our launch, we started sending out basically teasers, little pieces of information about tools that would be available and screenshots of designs. We did a logo and naming contest for all employees. That helped get people involved even before the launch.
Then as far as the launch went, on the day we created a redirect for everybody from the old intranet to the new. And as soon as they logged in, it popped up the welcome screen. We created a series of short videos – under 2 minutes videos – that gave an overview of the portal, explaining how actions are done or where to find files. People had an opportunity to watch at their own pace. We’ve put a bunch of those up on the help page.
Q. How did you align OnSemble with your organizational strategy?
Nicholas: For decades and decades we were a single branch bank. Really close-knit, family oriented and then we added a couple other branches that and I think the branches fell a little out of touch with the main office over time. So, in my mind the Intranet was a method to at least let you put faces to names, give people the opportunity to see news across branches and keep bridge us closer, keeping contact with all the branches. This was important for us as we grow.
The biggest success we have had is with document management. Our lending process, our loan process department, frontline staff – everyone uses it all day long and they love it.
Q. For an outside organization looking for guidance, what would you tell them was a key driver of your success?
Nicholas: I’d say a 100% get people involved from all departments and all branches. The buy-in and shared ownership go a long way in driving success. And then remember there is a commitment involved. The freedom to customize needs time commitment. It is an ongoing process to drive engagement and keep the intranet dynamic. We bought a product that we really like and it’s accomplished everything that we’re looking for so I’d defiantly recommend it.