When Ruth and I crossed the country for the AlignIT Tour recently (post-event resources can be found here), we got a lot of very positive feedback from you on the real-world stories of how Microsoft Partners helped organizations solve business issues with the technologies we were discussing, including Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010.  I wanted to continue to share stories of the great Microsoft Partners we have across Canada and the work that they are doing.  Our first story deals with a Toronto-area Partner, imason, and beer (a great Canadian past-time?) and how SharePoint helped one of the premier brewers in Canada to enhance employee collaboration.

  The following is a re-print of the story as published on imason’s web site

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How do you ensure your employees get the information they need when they need it? For Labatt, one of Canada's largest brewers with more than 3,000 employees, the answer was to leverage the power of SharePoint platform to build a world-class intranet portal-and partner with imason to make it happen.

Under the leadership of imason's User Experience team, Labatt migrated some 145,000 documents and mapped them into a new, bilingual information architecture that merged two intranet sites - a news centre and a resource centre-into one. The result was greatly improved communication within its organization, including a superior intranet user experience and shared internal access to digital marketing assets.

To find out more about the project, we caught up with Paul Montag, Business Relationship Manager at Labatt.
 

Keystone: This project created an intranet portal that would be the envy of any business. What were your initial key drivers and goals?
PM:
The need to improve communication within the organization came through loud and clear in our annual employee engagement survey, and that was the primary factor in our plan to create a new intranet site. We wanted a more modern, stable platform for the portal and we also needed to simplify and consolidate our existing environment in both official languages.

Keystone: What made you select imason as a partner?
PM:
They had in-depth knowledge of SharePoint, which we had selected as the technology framework. They also had the strongest response to the RFP when it came to skills and capabilities. Basically, imason gave us the complete picture, including some of the design elements that we were looking for, under one project management team. We weren't looking to hire a lot of developers - we wanted a complete project management package from a single source. They also had knowledge of our legacy system, which was very important in terms of timelines.

Keystone: What kind of strategic input did imason provide on the direction and scope of the project?
PM:
One of their biggest strategic contributions was recommending that we merge our two intranet sites, essentially a news centre and a resource centre. We went in thinking that we would have two separate entities, but they had the foresight to push us to merge them and it was absolutely the right call.

Keystone: Any successful enterprise intranet is really an extension of your brand. How did imason help you achieve that?
PM:
They certainly helped us a great deal with the graphics and layout, and they did a great job pulling together and managing our creative team to design something that everyone was happy with. And in building the site, they made it really easy for us to change the imagery. For example, in the spring we had a Bud Light launch, and we wanted to turn the site green for a week and put Bud Light imagery around the site to emphasize to employees how important this launch was. imason was able to turn this around very quickly, and they were able to do that, in part by the way they built the site in the first place.

Keystone: In projects like these, hitches and changes often arise that can derail you. How quickly was the imason team able to react to unforeseen challenges?
PM:
They were extremely professional about it and always reacted quickly and fairly. With a very limited timeline and a set budget, the amount of change could have become a problem on this project. But they were always accommodating and responsive-they didn't complain when we had a misunderstanding about how things should be-they would correct it and we would have a discussion about it. We didn't get bogged down in debates about whether or not this "part of the original agreement". They were committed to making sure that we got the site we wanted.

Keystone: How responsive have they been with issues that you have experienced since the launch?
PM:
The site is very, very stable. It doesn't go down, it's easy to use, it runs well, so we've had almost no issues. So, right after go-live there were some initial issues. We put together a plan and imason addressed the issues immediately.

Keystone: What kind of feedback are you getting on this project?
PM:
Going into this project, employees wanted search results to be like Google. Since the new system was implemented, I have not had one complaint-search results are so much better, and that's because of the reorganization of the content and the new SharePoint product. So the results have been fantastic!

For questions regarding this case study, or to find out how imason can help you solve your business problems, talk to Jeff Dunmall, co-founder and co-CEO: jeff.dunmall@imason.com | 416 848 1313