CLBC launches a full-featured intranet on BC Government’s Microsoft 365 tenant

The provincial Crown agency’s move to modern SharePoint represents a big step in the government’s journey into the cloud.

The challenge

To migrate and modernize an on-premises SharePoint intranet to the BC Government’s shared Microsoft 365 tenant.

The outcome

A modern intranet with great communications features that delivers personalized employee experiences and benefits from fast upgrades and easy support.

Community Living BC is a provincial Crown agency that funds supports for adults with developmental disabilities. In 2020, they launched an employee-focused GO Intranet on classic SharePoint to support their 700 in-office and frontline workers. The impact was immediately positive; the new experience helped employees easily find what they needed to do their jobs, provided just-in-time communication, and connected people across the organizations during a critical time.

While the on-premises intranet was serving them well, they were at risk of missing out on feature developments and updates. They also wanted to move to modern SharePoint in alignment with a wider initiative within the BC Government to migrate all SharePoint sites to the cloud.

The challenge was that they also needed to move any new intranet from their own server to the government’s tenant. How could they get the same great intranet features they were used to (or better) in a shared environment?

Man and a woman smiling at the camera.
Two men and a woman standing outside offices, engaged in conversation.
Woman wearing a headset in an office, smiling at the camera.

To take on this challenge, they partnered with Habanero, who helped them deploy a full-feature, easy-to-use intranet that delivers an engaging, personalized employee experience while functioning within the BC Government’s shared Microsoft 365 tenant.

In the process, they laid out a roadmap to guide future deployments in similar environments.

Deploying an intranet in a shared tenant

Hosting an intranet shared tenant can impose constraints on a platform’s capabilities. Without the proper guardrails in place, your configuration choices could impact all other sites on that tenant.

Habanero Infrastructure Architect Carmen Craciun worked closely with CLBC’s IT team and the Office of Chief Information Officer (OCIO) at BC Government to understand the technical landscape and specifications they would have to meet.

“Carmen brings really solid technical skills to the table,” says CLBC Manager, IT Services, Jonah Zhao. “And she has a deep understanding of how our service provider, OCIO, works. Whenever we ran into a limitation, she was open, flexible and she went the extra mile to adapt the implementation to our circumstance.”

“It was a matter of figuring out what we needed to be aware of,” says Carmen. “Some things we could not implement. We had to understand the limits and identify areas where we could push the boundaries a bit, and then adjust our solution to make sure that it fit within the space that was created.”

Two main areas were impacted by the shared tenant:

  • Design – Modern SharePoint offers a simple, consistent design that invites designers to find innovative ways to showcase an organization’s culture and brand. A shared tenant creates additional constraints that demand even more creativity. For CLBC’S new intranet, Habanero used an out-of-the-box SharePoint theme and added visual elements to bring the brand to life in GO. The result is a sleek, modern intranet experience with a look and feel that’s true to CLBC.
  • Metadata management – Metadata ensures employees can easily browse or search for content and find exactly what they’re looking for. It also makes personalization possible, resulting in an intranet experience tailored to an employee’s preferences. SharePoint Online uses a global site directory of terms that organizations can define based on what’s common for them. On a shared tenant, it’s not possible to use management enterprise data for just one site, because any terms that are defined will apply to all sites on that tenant. To overcome this limitation, Carmen leveraged SharePoint’s site collection term group, so the terms are available for use on CLBC’s intranet only. This approach to term management can scale for whatever BC government may need in the future, such as multiple other SharePoint intranets.
Mobile screenshot of the featured news panel on CLBC's intranet.
Desktop screenshot of the featured news panel on CLBC's intranet.

A feature-rich, engaging intranet

To fit the restrictions typical of a shared tenant, organizations often end up with a stripped-down intranet with basic functionality, a generic design and a clunky authoring experience that makes updating content a chore.

GO Intranet builds on and enhances modern SharePoint’s capabilities, so it delivers more than CLBC could get in out-of-the-box while offering the flexibility to adapt to their unique technical constraints.

The move from classic to modern SharePoint also represents a levelling up of CLBC’s intranet experience. Here are some of the enhanced capabilities they now enjoy:

Search and findability

The work that CLBC employees do relies on easy access to accurate, up-to-date information, so they can provide quality, consistent service to communities across the province. These capabilities in GO Intranet for modern SharePoint make it even easier for employees to find what they need:

  • Springboard – This persistent toolbar, accessible from any page of the intranet, provides quick access to important tools and resources, like their favourite links, apps, local weather and time zones. Employees can also adjust their interests and edit their profiles.
  • Site search – The search experience in modern SharePoint uses insights from Microsoft Graph to show personalized search results, so employees can easily find the information that’s most relevant to them. By leveraging hub search, they can scope results to the intranet only.
  • People finder – The People Finder instantly displays employee names after the user types just a few letters. Employees can then click on a person to go to their profile in Microsoft 365 or follow the link to explore a full-featured people search experience. To deploy this feature in the BC Government’s shared tenant, the Habanero team created a filter so that only CLBC users appear as results, instead of the BC Government’s 80,000 employees!


In GO Intranet, personalization based on role, location and even interest ensures that employees get the information they need without all the noise. For CLBC’s implementation of GO, Habanero deployed functionality to specific site collections, which empowers employees to customize the following information:

  • News, events and announcements – Employees can set their preferences to choose which news items they’d like to see. Notifications on the Announcements tab in the Springboard tell them when something new has been published, ensuring they see relevant items without having to filter through information that doesn’t apply to them.
  • What’s happening – This newsfeed on the homepage aggregates communications including corporate news, social highlights and employee recognition. What’s Happening supports both a targeted experience where communicators can push content to the feed and a personalized experience where employees can select what they are interested in.
  • My apps – Employees can select and pin their own preferred apps directly from an Applications Listing page. The apps appear on the homepage and within the Springboard, where they can be reordered to meet the individual’s needs.
  • Quick links – From the Springboard, employees have quick access to groupings of helpful links, including their starred sites, pinned resources and any custom links or groups they want to add.
Mobile screenshot of the my apps panel on CLBC's intranet.
Desktop screenshot of the what's happening news panel and the my apps panel on CLBC's intranet.

Policy library

CLBC has a large library of policies and resources that provide guidance on how they serve their communities. Thanks to the site collection terms, employees can search or browse by topic, type, or any other desired criteria for CLBC-specific information.

New and recently updated items appear at the top of the page, along with the date they were updated, so employees can easily stay on top of changes. They can also pin their most important items for quick access.

Mobile screenshot of the policies and resources site on CLBC's intranet.
Desktop screenshot of the policies and resources site on CLBC's intranet.

Culture and connection

CLBC has an engaged and inclusive workplace culture. The features in their new intranet offer meaningful ways for employees to share their stories and celebrate each other for the small and the big things that they do every day:

  • Photo gallery – The Photo Gallery helps employees understand what’s happening across the organization and stay connected, especially when in the field. Employees can upload and share their own photos of happenings in their home-work space or their CLBC office and comment on all photos. Photos appear in a lightbox view, with integrated social features.
  • Commenting and liking – Social capabilities on news posts, content pages and photos allow employees to connect with colleagues across all locations.
  • Recognition (Gotchas) – CLBC employees have always been happy to “share a gotcha” with their coworkers. On their previous site, this feature was popular and well-used. Their new site takes the experience to the next level. In addition to sharing their personal comments, employees can also select from a list of qualities that incorporate CLBC’s values and core competencies, which align with their performance reviews. They can also recognize more than one person for multiple qualities or share their messages privately, depending on the receiver’s preferences. This feature spotlights both the person giving the recognition and the person (or people) receiving them, fostering stronger connections across CLBC.

“We have a strong culture of recognition at CLBC,” says Justine Sanford, internal communications specialist at CLBC. “The feature in GO is so easy to use that people just naturally took to it. We don’t have to remind them.”

Mobile screenshot of the recognition panel on CLBC's intranet.
Desktop screenshot of the recognition panel on CLBC's intranet.

Content modernization and migration

Moving content from the on-premises intranet to modern SharePoint was no small task. With the help of Habanero Digital Workplace Consultant Jonathan Plumbley, Justine learned the new platform and guided 30 other content authors through the process.

Jonathan held twice-weekly sessions with content authors to answer questions and work through any challenges together. The team learned how to take advantage of the new features of the platform and work with the limitations that come with the BC Government’s shared Microsoft 365 tenant environment.

Justine Sanford Internal Communications Specialist CLBC

It was a daunting project at first, because we all do this work on top of our regular roles, but Jonathan guided and supported us so well. As things went along, everyone started to feel confident and really good about everything. At the end people were quite cheerful and jolly about it.

GO’s content authoring tools helped make the job easier for the whole team:

  • Quick content creation panel – Accessible from the Springboard, this widget lets authors add new content in the right location from anywhere within the intranet.
  • Page templates – Once authors choose the type of content they want to create (for example, a news post, announcement, alert or general content page), the associated structured template is automatically populated.
  • Content author helper text – Within each page template, helper text provides guidance to help authors populate it with copy, images and video, as needed.

“There are a lot of great authoring features on the new platform,” says Justine. “They help our content authors figure out what they're doing as they go along. The new authoring experience is faster, simpler, and more user friendly.”

Supporting modern SharePoint

Now that they’ve made the move to modern SharePoint, CLBC’s new intranet benefits from regular upgrades and fast support from Habanero’s team of intranet success and support specialists.

“When it comes to modern SharePoint, we rely on Habanero’s expertise,” says Jonah. “They know Microsoft 365 well, and their team is very responsive.”

Everyone on the team is a full-time Habanero employee who has deep knowledge of GO and strong relationships with their clients. Drawing on the collective expertise of GO designers, developers and digital workplace consultants, the Habanero intranet success and support specialists share consistent, reliable recommendations and best practices to help clients make the most of their intranet.

Chris Scollard Product Support and GO Team Lead Habanero

We don’t measure success by the number of solved support tickets. Instead, we look at whether or not we did the best thing for the client. When we run into constraints, like we might with the BC Government’s shared Microsoft 365 tenant, we may explore multiple options to ensure we’re taking the best path forward. In the end, it’s about helping our clients achieve their goals.

The team also gains important insights from supporting GO clients, which they share back with the GO product team to ensure future developments continue to meet client needs. It’s part of a continuous feedback loop that benefits everyone. CLBC’s move to a modern SharePoint intranet on a shared tenant offered learning at every stage that the entire GO team can leverage and share for future deployments.

“We were the first to do this within the BC Government, so there was no established process to follow,” says Carmen. “Now that we’ve deployed the intranet successfully, we have a blueprint to follow, and future implementations will be even easier.”

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