Financial services group Nordea released their new intranet phone book in late 2011. This took their people search on the intranet to an impressive new level. The main goals were to make it faster to find colleagues and increase collaboration between employees across the organization. How did they achieve these common intranet objectives?
Nordea's new People Book: the highlights
The screenshot illustrates a few of the great features that the new People Book offers:
- “What you can ask me”: allows employees to indicate, using keywords, in which areas they are knowledgeable and are willing to help their colleagues.
- Experience and competences: Many people directories offer some possibility for employees to list these, but the Nordea functionality is particularly well-structured and detailed. People can list the projects that they have worked on, their former jobs, skills such as languages as well as more personal interests.
- Nickname: Providing a nickname and making it searchable is a popular feature in certain countries such as Finland
- Alternative contact: Urgent question but your regular contact person is not available? Look up the alternative contact on the profile page!
- Direct access to the person’s job description
- Direct access to the organizational structure, with a clear view of an employee’s colleagues and reporting line all the way up to the CEO
Employees from across the organization are enthusiastic:
People Book is by far the number 1 reason for me to use the intranet!
The new People Book and the integration with Communicator work very well; I use it a lot!
People Book has helped me as a new employee to find colleagues with the right expertise.
Strong integration with search and office tools
Another key strength of the Nordea People Book is that it is not a stand-alone application, but is very smoothly integrated with other office productivity tools:
- The intranet search engine has a specific ‘people search’ option, and has been fine-tuned to handle the keywords from the “What you can ask me” feature with the appropriate importance. It also allows you to narrow down your search results further, for instance by country if you are looking for a person from a particular country office. The screenshot below shows you how it works.
- The people book is also nicely integrated with Microsoft Communicator, for instance by showing the presence button (green, yellow, red, do not disturb, …) next to the person’s name and by adding a ‘click to chat’ link.
Behind the scenes
The success of Nordea's People Book hinges on solid, user-friendly processes and a strong technology foundation. The process for employees is quite straightforward: Most fields on their profile page, such as the "What you can ask me" or the interests field, are just plain text fields. Managers have a follow-up link on their profile page, allowing them to easily visualize who in their team has filled out the optional fields.
The profile pages and the edit forms are presented in a simple, user-friendly layout built in BEA WebLogic Portal. Autonomy's IDOL search technology is used for indexing and has been fine-tuned to deliver quality search results.
Why is finding people so important on the intranet?
A good people directory provides a lot more value to the organization than just allowing people to find telephone numbers. Companies are increasingly using tools like these to discover talent across the organization, to stimulate efficient collaboration and to win more business by allowing project teams to find answers quickly.
Intranets come in many different shapes and flavours, but there is one feature that employees always mention as their primary reason to use the intranet: finding colleagues. This is why it is so important for organizations to focus on the quality of their people directory; intranet managers must make sure that employees can perform this top task efficiently and successfully.
Next steps for Nordea
From my experience, the Nordea People Book is best-in-class, making it difficult to suggest further improvements.
One area where some companies have gone further is in formalizing the skills management. The current free-format approach can be complemented with an HR-provided component, a taxonomy of skills, different levels (basic, professional, expert) and endorsement from colleagues.
Next steps for your intranet
- Learn from the best: Not yet registered for the intranet conference track at J. Boye Aarhus 12? Then secure your ticket today!
- Share with the best: People directories are often discussed - and compared! - in our many J. Boye intranet groups across Europe and North America. Not yet a group member? Find out which one is right for you.
- How does your intranet measure up? We'll tell you as part of our intranet benchmarking!