BCAA is known as an exceptional place to work. For five years running, it’s earned a place among BC’s Top Employers thanks to its flexible work options, wellness program and other benefits. With more than one million Members, BCAA’s 1,400 employees serve 1 in 3 BC households with industry-leading products, including home, car, travel, and small business insurance, Evo Car Share, roadside assistance, and full auto repair at BCAA’s Auto Service Centres across the province.
Their previous intranet, Spark, helped employees stay engaged and connected, whether they’re working at service locations or call centres, on the road or in the car share or e-bike share fleet team. It was the organization’s primary method for communicating to all the diverse employee groups.
Spark was well-liked, with high usage among all employee groups, but it was utilitarian and offered limited opportunities for interaction. Built on classic SharePoint, it was also nearing the end of its lifespan. It was time to make a move to a new platform that could grow and evolve with BCAA.
“From our employees’ perspective, we weren’t fixing something that was broken,” says Keiko Jacobs, intranet communications specialist at BCAA. “But modern SharePoint’s enhanced interaction and engagement was attractive to us. It’s seemed like the right place to build Spark 2.0.”
Partnering with a leader in the Microsoft 365 space
Their previous vendor was not able to support their move to modern SharePoint or keep up with the ongoing development of the platform. With Habanero’s GO Intranet, they recognized an opportunity to take full advantage of their Microsoft 365 investment and keep pace with product developments.
Keiko agrees: “It was a great consultive, collaborative process. Habanero understood our needs and recommended solutions. It wasn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. They were open to hearing what we needed, and they came up with ideas to get us where we wanted to be. We knew that they had our backs and were ready to help us create something really useful.”
Migration on a tight timeline
Migrating from classic SharePoint’s hierarchies to the flat structure of modern represented a fundamental change in architecture. BCAA had up-to-date content, trained publishers, and a great group of people who care about what they do. Even so, they recognized that it was going to be a big project.
“Migrations are always more complex than you think they’re going to be, but we felt very supported,” says Karen. “Habanero provided us with best practices they formulated from previous projects with other companies. That was very valuable.”
Features to make work easier
Everyone within BCAA’s distributed workforce – whether they’re working with customers, behind a desk or out on the road – is pressed for time. BCAA wanted to make it faster and easier for employees to find the information they need, without sacrificing any of the tried-and-true features they already loved. They also didn’t want to box themselves in with customizations that could break during a Microsoft upgrade.
“Because of Habanero’s level of expertise, they were able to find solutions within SharePoint or within GO to fulfill what we wanted without having to customize the site in a way that would break SharePoint,” explains Keiko.
GO’s springboard follows employees to every page on the site, giving them easy access to the tools they use most, like apps, links and announcements. For BCAA field workers, like tow truck drivers, the GO team added a custom tab for emergency contact numbers, so they can quickly access them from any page.
Announcements deliver timely information an employee needs to do their job. When a new announcement is posted, a note indicator lights up in the springboard. The team added the ability to link to an announcement using custom functionality.
The move to GO Intranet for modern SharePoint dramatically improved the search experience, as expressed in this unsolicited feedback from an employee:
“It is AMAZING how easy it is to find and pull up information compared to the old Spark. I’m enjoying that level of functionality way more now; it’s accurate and fast. Thanks for updating it!”
“From day one, users commented on how much easier it was to search content on the new intranet,” says BCAA Senior Product Owner, Microsoft 365, Neda Ilic. “That’s due in part to GO’s search engine, of course, but also the clarity we gained from tagging content according to modern architecture best practices.”
Enhancing and increasing recognition
Moving to modern SharePoint offered BCAA an opportunity to enhance the features their employees already liked and trusted, such as their recognition program, Bravo. Employees were already actively engaged with Bravo but integrating it into the new intranet helped it really take off.
“People love that the Bravo recognition pieces can be posted directly on the site and their colleagues can comment,” says Keiko. “It’s more interactive.”
While BCAA were working on Spark 2.0, the GO team released several feature enhancements that closely aligned with their needs. Now, when recognition is posted, the recipient – and their manager – receive an email notifying them of the kudos, plus a certificate they can print or save.
Since the program’s launch, BCAA has seen an increase in recognition given out compared to a similar time period with the previous recognition tool, and employees love that their recognition posts can be public or private.
Bringing the brand to life in modern SharePoint
Out-of-the-box, classic SharePoint is limited in the colours available to designers and authors. After a recent brand refresh, Keiko’s team ran up against these limits in their old intranet.
“It was difficult and clunky to change the logos and get the colours right, and we weren’t able to use our new corporate typeface,” she explains. “In Spark 2.0, it’s easier to make sure that different elements of the site use the right colours and font, so the look and feel closely aligns with our brand and external website.”
GO Intranet for modern SharePoint allows for accent colour palettes, plus a recently released layout for background elements brings in graphics and photography – a game changer for designers.
Simplifying brand management
BCAA has multiple brands, including BCAA for Insurance and Membership, and Evo and Evolve for car share and e-bike share, respectively. Each brand has many variations of logos and other brand assets suited to different use cases. They wanted an easy way to manage these assets and make them available to employees within the organization.
Brandmate, GO’s brand portal, turned out to be a right-sized solution for their needs.
“Brandmate was an important differentiator for Habanero,” says Karen. “No other intranet vendor that we looked at had anything like that. It was a feature that was of great value to us.”
Brandmate creates a single source of truth for brand essentials, like colour palettes, images, logos, icons, and guidelines. To accommodate the organization’s brands, the team created a single library with a filtered search experience. This means that assets for BCAA, Evo, and Evolve reside and are managed from a single location within the platform, eliminating the risk of file duplication. But on the user-facing side, employees access specific brand assets via the site’s navigation menu. It’s a way of simplifying content management while delivering a targeted, seamless user experience.
Configuring Brandmate to meet the organization’s unique needs involved a close collaboration between BCAA and Habanero. As part of this process, the GO team updated one of the platform’s web parts so authors could manually define print and digital colour values instead of having to do an awkward work-around.
“We love hearing feedback from clients, because they’re real people using the product,” says Carmen. “Of course, we leverage user research to create our features, but it’s so valuable to hear what clients are saying. If it’s something valuable that other clients would want, often our team will add it to the GO roadmap.”
BCAA is now preparing for the second phase of Brandmate: enabling organizational asset libraries. This will make images, logos and other brand assets directly available from programs like PowerPoint and Word.
Spark 2.0 takes its first new steps
“BCAA employees started using features, like the new Bravo, so quickly,” says Karen. “It took off like wildfire. We thought we might have to encourage people, but it just was natural.”
To measure engagement, Keiko’s team will be using Helm Insights, which will surface valuable metrics for the news they publish on Spark 2.0. With more accurate unique visitor data, they’ll gain a window into employee preferences and behaviours, so they can focus their content efforts in areas where they’ll have the greatest impact. Helm will also enable them to categorize and compare content; use segmentation to understand audiences by role, location and other criteria; and pull reports to share with stakeholders.
“We’re very excited about Helm’s dashboard,” says Keiko. “We’re seeing sustained engagement right now, but we’re always looking for ways to boost it and make it even better.”
The road ahead
Now that Spark 2.0 is live, BCAA is looking ahead to see where Microsoft is going and how the upcoming Viva enhancements will integrate with their new intranet.
“We’re about to do an upgrade to the latest version and there’s already a million things in there that we didn’t even know we wanted or needed,” says Neda. “I’m excited to see it develop and grow.”
More than ever, they value their partnership with Habanero as an organization that can help them evolve Spark 2.0 in alignment with the modern SharePoint roadmap.
“As a product owner of Microsoft 365, it’s sometimes hard to keep up with the pace of change,” Neda adds. “It’s a large ecosystem and new features are coming up on a weekly basis. It’s valuable to have a partner who’s in tune with Microsoft. Habanero is anticipating what might come out and is always working to address gaps in features instead of developing features that compete with the roadmap. It makes everyone’s job easier. I am confident that our users will get the best experience that they possibly can because of Habanero’s forward-thinking and proactive relationship with Microsoft.”