Espria: from an informative intranet to an indispensable and dynamic digital work environment based on Drupal 7

Submitted by
One Shoe
The Case
Social / Community
Short introduction
Espria is one of the largest healthcare organizations in the Netherlands. Comprised of 8 brands and a total of over 20.000 employees, Espria boosts the resilience of people and supports them in their empowerment. Whenever possible, Espria ensures that people are in control of their own lives for as long as possible, and helps them to regain that control when needed.

To achieve this, cooperation, trust and internal communication within Espria are of the utmost importance. To this end, One Shoe realized a user-friendly, visually attractive digital work environment based on Drupal 7.
Launch date
Healthcare concern Espria consists of the healthcare organizations Evean, Icare, Zorggroep Meander, GGZ Drenthe, De Trans, PartiCura, Zorgplaats and the Ledenvereniging. Over 20.000 people are employed at Espria in primarily executive functions, dispersed over various locations and at the homes of many healthcare clients. For Espria, the intranet (or rather: digital work environment) is the connecting factor in the day-to-day work of the employees.

Initial situation
The existing intranet was outdated in terms of technology and set up from the organization’s point of view. In their daily use, people were faced with limitations. In the meantime, many employees have been supplied with smartphones and tablets and/or have a laptop/desktop at their disposal. In addition, employees increasingly started to use alternative methods of communication such as WhatsApp and Facebook. These platforms are not very suitable, because of issues like information security and privacy, among other things.

Within Espria, the intranet is positioned as the primary information channel. A new look, new functionalities and, specifically, more opportunities for interaction should ensure that this position is strengthened and that the use of the intranet becomes logically entrenched in the everyday work of all employees.
One Shoe's challenge:
"To develop a future-proof digital work environment that supports all 20.000 employees of Espria in their daily (work) processes, improves the internal communication, facilitates interaction between employees and creates a greater mutual involvement."

Espria's challenge:
"To create an indispensable platform in the day-to-day work of the Espria employees, with a fresh and contemporary design that prioritizes mobile use."
In close collaboration with Espria, we have realized a clean and bright digital work environment, based on Drupal 7 and using the agile method, that has become indispensable to Espria’s employees.

The result is an endorsed intranet that has become the starting point for the daily work of the practitioners, nursing staff, doctors, purchasers, policy advisers, front desk staff, team leaders, department managers and many others within Espria.

Employees receive information that has been tailored for them and distributed according to the division where they are employed. In addition to the "mandatory company information", the employee has control over the information flows.

In the new digital work environment, Espria's wishes were fulfilled in the following ways:

• Daily support of work processes:
- Digital protocols, documents and forms are now available uniformly
- Self-service: claiming expenses, making reservations, access to pay slips.

• Improvement of internal communication:
- The intranet is also available as an app: employees (including outpatient) can now be digitally informed and supported as well.
- Representation in timeline
- News feed with notification system for current content
- Social streams: employees can participate in digital communication and interact with the content publishers and each other.

• Facilitating interaction:
- Employees share knowledge and work together digitally via internal social media: microblogging, knowledge platforms, file sharing.

• Creating a greater mutual involvement:
- Dashboard (personal environment) with authentication, profile structure
- A 'who is who'/employees' page: this way, employees can always find the right colleague and contact them
- Events
- Vacancies
- Groups (departments, themes)

Immediately after its launch, the new intranet was enthusiastically received by the employees. And the intranet right away took up its role as a means of interaction, as the positive reactions poured in: "Looks great, congratulations. Now we all need to think and work together to make it 'our' intranet: a platform where we can find, inform and support each other, and so on." And: "Yes, I'm a fan! I predict a beautiful future for easily finding and sharing information. It also looks very good. My compliments to everyone who helped to create this."

Within several months, the intranet has already become the central hub in the collaborative process of the 20.000 employees of the 8 organizations situated at the separate Espria locations. In the coming period, the focus will be on the optimization of functionalities. Espria and One Shoe will proceed with this in close consultation with the end users.

Technical challenges
*About the Espria Intranet App
To be able to also offer the intranet as an app for mobile phones and tablets, we developed a Native Mobile Application with the help of the Cordova platform. With this platform, you can use web technology (HTML/JavaScript) to develop an app that can be exported to most available platforms. In our case, it enabled us to rollout an app for Windows Mobile, iOS and Android using a single codebase. This is a lot more efficient than having to build an app for each platform separately. Moreover, our web team didn't have to learn a Native programming language to develop a Native app. Because of this, the team could build both the web version and the app, and no additional app developers were required.

* Social timeline
How do you manage large quantities of messages in the system, and not let this affect the intranet’s performance? By archiving in an intelligent way and only retrieving the information that is relevant to the user. Combined with Memcache, this ensures that the user is not hindered in any way in using the intranet and doesn't miss any (essential) information.

* Notification system
How do you manage large quantities of notifications in the system, and not let this affect the intranet’s performance? Notifications are periodically deleted after the user has read them, as they are then no longer relevant. Notifications are also only shown at the user's request. A trigger is shown to indicate that there are one or more notifications, but the users themselves must act to read these notifications.

* (Restricted) user groups
How do you handle information that should not be available to everyone? In general, all content within the intranet is public, but sometimes it is necessary to publish information for a restricted group of users. This information is shared within a private group, which you can only access if the group’s administrator has granted you permission.
Challenges in (combination of) modules
The Drupal CMS offered One Shoe and Espria a wealth of flexibility and freedom to design the intranet to Espria's wishes. By choosing the right combination of modules and interfaces and suitably configuring the content and documentation management, the intranet has been designed completely to Espria's requirements:

* Organic Groups
Espria is divided into different business units. Per business unit, the intranet can be configured separately by administrators and editors. The employees therefore only see the information pertaining to their own business unit. A business unit also consists of departments and teams. A department/team is likewise a collection of users, within which content may be shared. Within a business unit, users can create their own user groups. These can be public, selective or private, depending on the information that is shared in those groups. All these groups have been set up with Organic Groups.

* Apache Solr
The information shared in all these (public) groups can still be found by all users using the general search feature, and is therefore available to all users. This search feature uses Apache Solr, and has been configured completely according to the requirements of the intranet.

* Messages
Within the intranet, 'Messages' is used. These messages form the content of the (social) timeline and are used to send notifications. There are several standard notifications, used for instance when a certain type of content is created or when someone becomes a member of a group. In addition to this, (business) administrators can send direct messages to users.

* Social Timeline
The social timeline is a collection of messages that are relevant to the user. Content that has been published within their business unit, team and/or department is displayed here chronologically. Using the timeline, the user can instantly participate in any discussion or open the details page to see more information. Users may also follow (flag) other business units and receive information from those business units on their timeline.

* Hosting
To keep the intranet secure and properly shielded, the intranet is internally hosted at Espria and the users can log in with their personal LDAP data that they already use to log in to the internal network. The connection is made when a user logs in to the network, and they are then also automatically logged in to the intranet.

* XML Feeds
The number of job vacancies at Espria is constantly in flux. These vacancies are collected and published on the intranet from various sources by periodically importing these XML feeds.

Contribution form the project to the Drupal-community
Name client
Espria, Gerard Munk
What does the client think about the project?
"One Shoe and Espria have created a beautiful platform in just a few months. One Shoe's expertise has proven vital in the realization of this platform. The collaboration was based on a healthy combination of professionalism, a no-nonsense attitude and hospitality. This has also contributed to the result."