Janssen-Cilag is one of the fastest growing, research based pharmaceutical companies in Australia. It has more than 300 employees, split across Australia and New Zealand with around half based in the field. It is one of 250 Johnson & Johnson operating companies, which total about 121,000 employees across 57 countries.
In 2006, Janssen-Cilag completely replaced our simple, static HTML intranet with a Wiki solution. Over the 16 months since launch, it has dramatically transformed our internal communication and continues to increase in both visits and content contributions each month.
Janssen-Cilag’s previous intranet, InfoDownUnder, was a static HTML site, originally developed in 2001. Content was maintained using FrontPage, with only a handful of active editors throughout the company. IT was involved only to upload latest versions of content files from the development site onto the production server.
While some areas were lovingly maintained to a high standard, large sections of content were out of date. There was no search capability. Trust in the information was very low. News was distributed via email, not the web. The site featured excessive use of the blink tag, and New! icons highlighting content that was up to 3 years old.
Latent demand for change was strong.
The culture at Janssen-Cilag is highly consultative and relationship based. As such, gathering information and buy-in is often achieved through a series of conversations and discussions, building a coalition of support.
Requirements for a new Intranet site were collected through 27 interviews with a variety of people from all levels of the business. Three themes emerged:
Each conversation varied widely in focus, but the format usually went as follows:
With many years of experience building one of the first large scale completely open collaboration platforms for the web and then building heavyweight enterprise CMS systems for large organisations, I’ve personally come full-circle to the idea that the best collaboration systems are incredibly simple and open. Wiki’s are a powerful starting point for any organisation, but latent demand at Janssen-Cilag created the perfect environment.
As such, I used the requirements gathering session as a chance to pitch the idea of a Wiki as the solution to our Intranet problem. After bringing the conversation to understand our content maintenance requirements, I’d talk through the Wiki approach and how it may work for Janssen-Cilag. My sales pitch went as follows:
In general, the response was incredibly positive. Predictably, the main argument against this system was fear of improper changes to content, particularly for information subject to regulatory control. I would counter this argument in two ways:
At the end, showing people around Wikipedia was an incredibly powerful way to seal the deal, particularly since they have often used it to find information in the past.
There were no major objections to trying a Wiki-style concept.
We purchased, customised and launched a pilot Wiki Intranet within two weeks and with a budget of $11,000 AUD. This included all graphic design and single sign on integration.
After evaluating a wide range of alternatives including MediaWiki, Twiki and FlexWiki; we selected Confluence by Atlassian. Our main concerns were support for a hierarchy of pages, strong attachment capabilities, news features, LDAP integration, high quality search and a decent rich text editor.
Our customisation focused almost completely on usability. People shouldn’t know or care that they are using a Wiki. All that matters is that they can easily browse, search and contribute content. (In fact, after 16 months, only a small set of Janssen-Cilag staff would think of our Intranet as a Wiki. To them, it just seems natural that Intranet software would have evolved to something this simple to use.)
Here were our implementation decisions:
We started the new site as a pilot, launching as the source of information for a relocation of our head office. (Nothing drives traffic like the seating plan for a new office!) Information around the relocation was fast moving and changing daily for the two weeks between announcement of the move and our actual relocation.
Building on that success, we obtained executive approval to replace the existing Intranet. Over the next two weeks we worked with key content owners (most particularly HR) to show them how to create pages and migrate appropriate information. We made the decision to not automatically migrate any content, mostly because it was so old and trust in the existing intranet information was so low.
Our launch was timed with an informal head office monthly meeting, where around 100 people stand and listen to an update from senior management. We switched the site to live during the meeting, and had 5 minutes to present:
That launch presentation remains the only formal training we’ve ever provided on how to use the system.
Continuing training has been provided through short one-on-one demonstrations (we only show, we never do) and a detailed help section (I’m happy to show you now, but for future reference here is the help page).
The adoption of JCintra has been remarkable. After only 3 months, 111 people had contributed more than 5,000 changes. After 12 months, we had 18,000 contributions from 184 people within the business.
Most significantly, our contributions per month has continued to grow since launch. People are engaging and collaborating more with time, they are not losing steam as you might expect.
To drive adoption, we’ve primarily focused on owning the flow of new information. Early on, we established a policy that all announcements must be on JCintra. When necessary, they may be sent via email in addition to posting as news on the Intranet. Today, announcements ranging from major restructures to new babies for employees flow through the news page without clogging up email inboxes.
Owning the flow of news has established JCintra as a trusted source for the latest information. This translates into an expectation that the stocks of information (e.g. policies) will be available and up to date. Own the flow and the stock will come.
Business information that was previously scattered in email (e.g. Business Planning presentations) is now collected into a permanent, secure online space. We have a growing reference and history of information to build on and make available to newcomers. Knowledge management, previously a big concern, has moved off the agenda for the time being.
For many Intranet owners, the model for content ownership is a key point of focus. With JCintra, our philosophy (successfully so far) has been:
As a result, we’ve seen some departments embrace the Intranet in a big way, while others don’t update content as much as we’d like. As expected, service areas of the business have been strong adopters, which means the main areas of Intranet content have been well maintained.
We’ve not yet adopted a formal content review process, but believe this will become more important in the next year of the sites life.
The primary barrier to continued success of JCintra remains the same as our initial barrier: encouraging a culture of collaboration and transparency. Some areas of JCintra have been highly successful in this regard, while other sections have never gained clear ownership or momentum.
JCintra works best when it is established as the source of truth for information and becomes the place where the work is done on a day-to-day basis. While ever the Intranet is a place that has to hold a published copy, it will remain as “extra work” and struggle in the competition for people’s time.
Implemented with usability and simplicity as the key focus, a Wiki is a fast, cheap and highly effective way to run an Intranet. Users do not perceive our Intranet as a Wiki, with all the anarchistic overtones that brings. Rather, they see the simplicity and flexibility as a natural evolution of Intranet technology.
In a culture full of all the typical trust, transparency, workload and security concerns common to big companies; the simplicity of this system and its content ownership model cut through. Problems of driving collaboration and content updates remain, but they are exposed as the cultural and people problems at their heart since the technical and workload “excuses” have been stripped away.
Note: Our Intranet has evolved significantly from the screenshots above, which were taken from the time of launch to avoid business confidentiality issues in this public forum. The site now includes a wealth of content and tight integration with our data warehouse, CRM and internal operational systems. Read more inBuilding Enterprise 2.0 on Culture 1.0.