Kent County Council revolutionise internal communications with Viva Connections adoption

When you are working with an organisation of more than 9,000 staff, efficiency is paramount.

Kent County Council, one of the largest local authorities in England in terms of population served, is responsible for providing more than 300 public services such as education, transport, strategic planning, emergency services, social services, public safety and waste disposal across the county.

The Challenge

Kent County Council’s (KCC) existing intranet was built on an old version of SharePoint, which required the team to find downtime in order to run critical updates to keep it functioning. Kirsty Ireland, Engagement Development Officer at Kent County Council, pointed out that this was no easy feat.

“We’re not a 9-to-5 organisation,” she explained, “so there is never a time when you can ensure nobody needs our communication channels. We can’t just take it down to run an update without it affecting somebody, somewhere.

“A major challenge was that the old system was not getting the important updates it needed and did not allow us the flexibility to deliver high-quality internal communications. We needed to ensure that our platform was resilient and allowed our staff the access they needed, when they needed it, to do their job. We had found, as with other local authorities that the way people wanted and expected to access their information had changed massively, and our systems needed to change with them.”

KCC was in-need of an intranet system that would reduce or eliminate downtime, provide greater functionality, enhance the integration options with Microsoft 365 package, and give them the confidence that their platform was sustainable, resilient and future-proof. Having already transitioned to the modern SharePoint experience, KCC saw their current contract coming to an end as an opportunity to go out to work with Microsoft on developing a platform.

Ultimately, the Council was looking for a partner who truly understood its pain points, could develop a tailored and adaptable solution to suit its needs, and would upskill its team in the necessary areas to take on the management of its new platform.

The Solution

Cloud Direct was selected from a group of three accredited Microsoft partners after demonstrating a combination of technical expertise and contextual understanding during the selection process. Its proposal involved maximising the capabilities of Microsoft SharePoint, Teams and Viva Connections to provide Kent County Council with an effective, modern internal communication platform that enabled and promoted collaboration across the organisation.

The delivery of the project got underway with a requirement validation workshop, the findings of which were then written up to inform the design team. Cloud Direct then constructed the required architecture and designed the new SharePoint hub, before running a handover session where KCC were given the opportunity to discover their new platform, find out how it operates, and ask the necessary questions – it was this part of the process that Kate Nowowiecki, Engagement Development Manager at Kent County Council, found most beneficial.

“We’re not technical architects or platform builders, so it was important for us to have access to that experience as a resource,” she explained. “Cloud Direct took the time to listen to what we were saying and what we were trying to get to and understood the level of support we would need.”

The process culminated in the configuration of Microsoft Viva Connections, providing KCC with a fully customisable employee Intranet that met their needs, and would allow the platform to grow and adapt in line with the organisation.

The Outcome

After migrating more than 700 pages and 4,000 documents to its new intranet platform, Kent County Council was set. The new system, fully integrated with Microsoft’s Viva Connections, enabled the team at KCC to manage their information more efficiently, communicate and engage with the organisation more effectively, and be confident in the resilience of the final platform.

The team is making the most of the platform’s customisable features with content takeovers, celebrating staff stories, and marking special in a way that works for them.

Cloud Direct’s delivery and implementation was flexible around KCC’s needs and timescales, with ongoing support offered following the completion of the project to make sure the organisation would not run in to the same problems it had faced previously.

“We didn’t want this to be a one-and-done piece,” said Kate. “We knew that Microsoft would continue to develop its products as time went on, and we wanted our platform to evolve with it. Cloud Direct understood that we wanted to maintain a level of knowledge that allowed us to do that ourselves, and we were given the opportunity to learn from the experts we were working with, to ask them questions and to upskill our team as part of the process.”

Why Cloud Direct?

“We chose Cloud Direct because, right from the off, our relationship with Henry Bird (Senior Cloud Sales Executive) and Pete Murphy (Modern Workplace Practice Lead) was open and honest, and they made it clear that they understood what our organisation needed and what we were trying to achieve.

“That is exactly how the project played out, and when we began working with Liam Sanderson (Modern Workplace Consultant) that same understanding continued. He showed us how to manage the system, and made sure to pass a great deal of knowledge on to our team which helped with their buy-in.”

Kirsty Ireland, Engagement Development Officer

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