SharePoint implementation successful as an agile process
In the future, LR Health & Beauty will rely on the Microsoft collaboration software SharePoint for its international, internal communication. Agility as a project management method enriches collaboration.
// Agility, Digitization, IT Technology Consulting, SharePoint
In order to better serve the diverse requirements for internal communication in the future, Ahlen-based LR Health & Beauty Systems GmbH developed the basics for an intranet with the support of management consultants noventum consulting from Münster. The technical basis of the installation is Microsoft SharePoint technology. Future expansion stages will be further developed by LR Health & Beauty Systems using its own resources. Following the positive experience with the agile approach in this project, agile project management will also be used as a possible method in the future.
Intranet for more transparency and better exchange of information
The LR Group employs a total of 1,268 people worldwide (as of December 31, 2020) of which 731 are in Germany. In addition, more than 300,000 customers and active sales partners in 28 countries are part of the extended LR communication circle.
An intranet based on Microsoft SharePoint technology was to improve and facilitate national and international communication within the company. In the first stage, the intranet was set up exclusively for the Ahlen headquarters. In the meantime, it is also being used internationally, and further development steps are planned for the coming year.
The management consultant noventum consulting was involved in the project with a mixed team. Microsoft experts technically implemented the installation of the software and the gradual expansion of the SharePoint sites. Project manager Dina Sibai accompanied the project as moderator and agile coach.
LR Health & Beauty Systems
Under the motto "More quality for your life", the LR Group, headquartered in Ahlen/Westphalia, produces and sells various health and care products in around 28 countries. As a modern social selling platform, the company combines personal exchange in its community with efficient, digital solutions. This expertise is particularly evident in LR's self-developed app "LR Connect," which supports the community in building and developing its business. The community, which often acts as micro-influencers, is young, flexible and increasingly uses social media as a sales platform.
LR aims to improve people's well-being and health with its portfolio - consisting of nutritional supplements and personal care products - with health accounting for nearly 65% of sales and personal care 35%. Therefore, the company is continuously developing new products - from the power of nature combined with the latest scientific findings.
The processing of Aloe Vera has been one of the core competencies of LR Health & Beauty for almost 20 years. Only the valuable inside of the leaf is used for the products. In Ahlen, the company has built one of the most modern Aloe Vera production facilities for Aloe Vera Drinking Gels in Europe. LR has been firmly established in the market for over 35 years with around 1,200 employees and more than 300,000 registered community members. In addition, LR has founded the LR Global Kids Fund e.V., which provides efficient and unbureaucratic support to disadvantaged children and their families in many countries around the world in cooperation with local institutions. The commitment to taking responsibility with regard to ESG is part of LR's philosophy. Since 2020, LR has used FSC-certified paper, taken various measures to avoid plastic consumption, and switched to green electricity.
Intranet structures information and communication.
A great added value of an intranet is the bundling of all important information on one platform. The exchange among each other and the mutual perception from department to department grow when used appropriately. It is particularly important that recurring structural elements allow users to quickly find their way around the intranet.
From the very beginning, the departments Corporate Communication, Global Project Management, Global Human Resources and Process Management & IT were involved in the LR Intranet project and presented themselves according to the same scheme:
- Introductory text
- Area of responsibility
- Contact person and team introduction
- Q & A
- Public documents
- Always up to date news postings
- Department-specific important links
A template was developed on the basis of the designed department pages, so that in later expansion stages other departments can be based on the standard and user orientation is maintained even in a larger intranet.
The central storage of documents and templates in exactly one location is another advantage of the intranet based on SharePoint. In plain language, this means that each file is only available once. If there is a new version, it is exchanged at exactly one storage location and is available to all employees from that point on without having to keep countless copies at other storage locations or store them temporarily. The Microsoft Office standard feature of "versioning" helps here. On the one hand, each department can store its documents in SharePoint and make them available to colleagues; on the other hand, libraries for central documents such as company templates can also be included on higher-level intranet areas.
Higher-level and from an overall company perspective, additional areas have been created:
- Organization for all information related to LR Health & Beauty.
- Areas as a jump to all department pages
- Countries as a jump to the individual international sales companies
- LR event area
- LR University (knowledge management)
- Self-service (Yellow Pages) with central documents, LR templates, LR images
- Digital break room with a bulletin board and a praise station
- A start page with all important information at a glance, including correlating news from all departments
Thus, the LR Social Intranet offers the possibility to get information about all current topics, responsibilities and the company's offer to the employees. In addition, there is room for knowledge distribution and social exchange. This not only promotes transparency and communication within the company, but also fosters a positive corporate culture.
From Push to Pull - New Signs for Internal Communication
Before the introduction of the intranet, information at LR Health & Beauty was usually exchanged by mail, via distribution lists that already existed in the company. Information was thus often distributed with the "watering can" - employees sometimes received information that affected them only slightly or not at all. Microsoft SharePoint is supposed to change this.
With a change from the "push" to the "pull" principle of information distribution - i.e. towards the active consumption of information through the intranet - messages can be distributed in a more targeted and convenient manner. The SharePoint provides an overview of all important facts and events. And if someone is particularly interested in certain information, they can access it in detail.
News and comments promote discussion
News or other contributions can be commented on in SharePoint on the spot, just like in social media. This again relieves the mail traffic and enables a discussion among the people the topic concerns at the place of the news itself. Setting up an LR News Ticker opens up a special channel for short-lived messages, which accordingly also disappear after some time. In this way, it differs from the "LR Newsfeed", which is used for all permanent news on the home page of the intranet.
Targeted differentiation between national and international communication
The translation feature of Microsoft SharePoint opens up the possibility of setting up the intranet in multiple languages. Some information in the LR organization is relevant for international colleagues, but some is only relevant for the German part of the company. Audience targeting can be used to regulate access to information for specific groups. This can concern news, but also event information, links and other information. In this way, each group of people has access to the information that is relevant to them.
Agile steps to SharePoint setup
The planning and implementation of the SharePoint collaboration software has been a standard service of noventum consulting for many years. Project planning according to agile principles has established itself as a particularly customer-oriented approach. The noventum procedure model "Agile Working" sets the framework for the iterative development process and allows to implement the ideas and wishes of different departments right from the start. These were also defined at LR Health & Beauty in an initial overview workshop with the interdisciplinary project team. Within this workshop, all participants were introduced to the agile way of working and the associated procedure was discussed.
The tools of agile project work were then to be used in the Health & Beauty intranet project. The creation of a backlog and the associated formulation of user stories helped to initially describe the requirements in detail. Together, the effort required for the individual implementation steps was estimated. At the end of the joint planning, there was also an initial budget plan. Regular coordination and reviews that concluded the cycle with the inclusion of new requirements (initially for the backlog) gave the project commitment and momentum. noventum consultant Dina Sibai moderated all agile events and made sure that all agile rules were followed. In this way, the project was driven forward in a goal-oriented manner and at the same time, everyone involved was able to learn how to work in an agile manner.
noventum convinces for the areas of service management and Office 365 in combination with agile methodology through high competence, professional and structured approach, good customer involvement and knowledge transfer.
From the very beginning, the LR Health & Beauty project participants were very interested in and enjoyed learning and actively applying the agile approach. noventum consultant Dina Sibai repeatedly experiences that even agility-inexperienced customers quickly recognize and learn to appreciate the value of this management method, especially in SharePoint projects. "Contrary to widespread prejudices, agility is characterized by a very high level of commitment. The teams agree on tasks that can be accomplished and regularly communicate the progress of the work and the quality of the results. This creates security and motivates great openness."