Wawanesa learns the art of the possible with Office 365

Wawanesa—a highly-rated North American insurance company—uses Office 365 to improve knowledge-sharing and collaboration experiences.

The challenge

To take advantage of Office 365 to address employees’ pain points.

The outcome

Wawanesa launches tools designed to help teams organize their information and to share it more effectively with each other.

Established in 1896 in the village of Wawanesa, Manitoba, Wawanesa Insurance is one of the largest property and casualty insurers in Canada. Operating across Canada and the state of California, the company has more than 3,300 employees serving its property and casualty business.

As the company grew, it encouraged autonomy across each of its regions. However, over the years, different information management practices made it difficult to ensure company-wide consistency and efficiency.

Wawanesa recognized a need to operate as One Wawanesa, a unified company with shared practices and procedures across the entire enterprise. To accomplish this, Wawanesa would first have to understand what, region by region, it was doing and how, region by region, it was different. In other words, the organization needed a way to modernize internal sharing.

Knowledge-management know-how

Lisa Boone, the company’s Manager of Regional Insurance Operations suspected Office 365 could support Wawanesa’s effort to modernize sharing, but she didn’t know how. “With Office 365, I knew we had a ton of capability available. But we didn’t have the expertise to tap into it. So we called Habanero and said, ‘can you help?’”

“When Wawanesa reached out to us, they wanted to improve the experience employees were having with their knowledge-management practices,” says Habanero consultant Chris Radcliffe. “They were an early adopter of Office 365, and saw it had lots of potential but were looking for guidance in how to use it in ways that would address people’s actual pain points.”

To understand the realities Wawanesa employees were contending with, Chris helped the organization put together a working group consisting of representatives from each of Wawanesa’s regions. The group shared “trials and tribulations from their home regions,” says Lisa, and they learned about “the art of the possible in Office 365,” says Chris. The group identified several opportunities to improve their work tools and, by extension, their at-work experiences.

At the top of the list? The design and creation of Knowledge Sites, spaces for regional groups to consolidate what they know and what they do. They’re designed not only to help teams organize their own information, but also to share it more effectively with each other and across the company.

“The Knowledge Sites are a great thing,” says Alejandra Vargas, Underwriting Technical Specialist. “When my region wanted to introduce a new product, a large part of my job used to be calling other provinces to see what they’re doing. Now, that information is online for me to consult. It saves me hours of work.”

Centralized information also helps people help each other. One of the goals behind improving cross-collaboration was to help distribute responsibilities when different business functions experience increased workloads, such as during seasonal spikes. “Sometimes, one region will get busy, and another one will jump in to help out,” says Lisa. “Now information is available for everyone to consult.”

In addition to offering a comprehensive overview of Wawanesa’s work, Knowledge Sites are designed to offer several other efficiency tools:

Targeted announcements 
“We used to inform people about changes to policy or procedure by cascading email. Now these announcements are published on our intranet, tagged by region, and displayed on the Knowledge Sites that they are relevant to,” says Lisa.

Local and global knowledge
Knowledge pages are grouped by topic and use facets and filters to ease findability. If users can’t find the appropriate local resource, they can also search the global knowledge directory, which includes content from all other regions.

“In insurance, customer service is personal, and knowing if someone is out of the office is vital. So we built another web part, a SharePoint calendar with custom display, that shows who’s out of the office today and also enables employees to see upcoming out of offices too.”

The regional solution supports both French and English. Home, landing, and knowledge pages are completely created or translated into French for French-speaking regions.

Knowing better means doing better

Chris Melvin, Claims Technical Specialist, describes the creation of Knowledge Sites as the digital equivalent to an organized filing cabinet out of thousands of sticky notes. “It’s been really cool,” he says. “This is the first time we’ve been able to tell our teams, here is where to go.”

“It’s definitely led to more engagement,” Chris adds. “All of our bits and pieces are in one place, and people are starting to weigh in, saying, ‘I didn’t know we were doing it that way, and here’s how I think we could do it better.’”

“I’m seeing collaboration between people and teams that I’ve never seen before,” he says.

Capturing and sharing insights represents tangible collaboration and is the real marker of success, says Chris Radcliffe. “The end goal, which Wawanesa is seeing, is helping people work together. It’s improving the day-to-day experiences of people within your organization. That is what digital transformation is really about.”

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