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Posted: 5/22/2012
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Harrods Harrods Uses Intranet Technology to Improve Workforce Communications

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.


Business Needs

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.

Solution

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.”

Harrods deployed its extranet on a separate server and synchronised it with the intranet. In addition, systems for Payment Card Industry regulations, forms-based authentication for identity management, and the Active Directory service were deployed. To provide a comprehensive search experience, ICS Solutions used Microsoft Search Server 2010 Express—a standalone search server—for both sites.

Benefits

Harrods expects to save around £75,000 a year because fewer document and information updates need distribution using print media. In addition, the organisation now easily complies with U.K. employment legislation, which stipulates that certain information must be available to all staff regardless of whether they’re contractors or part-time workers. Bissett says: “We decided to use the Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 intranet architecture because it offered so many of the features we needed.”

Compliance with employment law. Harrods needed to meet a legal requirement to make information available to all staff regardless of employment status. Now, all employees can access the same information—using either the intranet or secure extranet, depending on their employment status.

Savings of £75,000. Through the intranet, the Harrods communications team estimates savings of £75,000 a year that previously would have been spent printing information updates for its 8,000 employees in London.

Users publish content without assistance from the IT team. Wiki pages help users publish content without needing support from IT technicians, while HTML wiki templates standardise the content layout.

Compliance with Harrods brand guidelines. Loughnane says: “Harrods has a strong brand identity, and the customer had a good idea of the look-and-feel and functionality they wanted. We made sure that this was implemented throughout the SharePoint Server 2010 intranet architecture.”

Future development in SharePoint. Harrods plans to continue developing innovative solutions in SharePoint technology, having started with Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010. It has around 8 terabytes of information on its full server, of which only a small percentage is used. The focus is on developing new projects, with the company currently looking at resource booking and information management.

Self-service information management. Giving employees the ability to update their own profiles leads to more accurate and relevant information. It removes the bottlenecks and inaccuracies associated with centralised information management.

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview



Organization Size: 8000 employees

Organization Profile

The globally recognised retailer Harrods is a high-end department store located in the heart of London. It comprises more than 330 different business units.


Software and Services
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
  • Active Directory Domain Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008
  • Microsoft Search Server 2010 Express
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010

Vertical Industries
  • Retail and Consumer Goods
  • Specialty Retail

Country/Region
United Kingdom

Business Need
  • Cost Containment
  • Human Resource Management

IT Issue
  • Identity, Security and Access Management
  • Development

Languages
English

Partner(s)
ICS Solutions

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