Driving Digital Transformation: The Creation of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Inaugural Intranet

PROJECT OVERVIEW

Role: Digital Content Strategist

Objective: The University of Tennessee Knoxville has launched a digital transformation initiative to enhance online experiences across our diverse community. This initiative is dedicated to creating agile, adaptable digital platforms through strategic, audience-first communication practices, meeting the evolving needs of our external audiences, employees, and students.

Results and Impact: Expected outcomes include enhanced communication, improved productivity, and increased user satisfaction, marking the success of our digital transformation initiative. Testimonials highlighting the transformative impact will be shared soon.

Digital Transformation Goals: We aim to strengthen our relationship with all university stakeholders by creating impactful online experiences, enhancing internal communication, and supporting our community’s success through effective digital transformation strategies.

Duration: This 12-month term position is a testament to our commitment to achieving lasting digital transformation.

Design and Development:

The digital transformation journey culminated in the creation of a SharePoint Intranet Hub (“Employee Hub”), designed to facilitate seamless sharing and collaboration across the university.


Challenges and Solutions:

Custom solutions were developed to overcome SharePoint’s limitations, ensuring our digital transformation objectives were met without compromising functionality or user experience.

Technical Hurdles:

Access Control: The Employee Hub features an inclusive access model, granting all university faculty and staff entry via a unified Active Directory system, with specific site administrative rights assigned at the individual site level for finer control.

Customization for Content Management: To facilitate efficient content management, we developed custom views within the intranet’s asset areas, enabling content managers to streamline their management of news feeds and resources effectively.

SharePoint Design Adaptations: We encountered unique SharePoint behaviors, such as disappearing menus upon scrolling, and tailored our design approach to ensure a seamless user experience that accommodates these features.

Navigation and Organization: Without the ability for automated breadcrumb navigation in SharePoint, for in-depth content navigation we employed a deliberate design strategy to incorporate these navigational aids, enhancing user orientation within the site.

Individualized Footers: Due to SharePoint’s architecture, footers aren’t universally applied across hub sites in the same manner as global menus. As a result, we custom-designed each footer to maintain consistency and usability across different parts of the intranet.

Template Customization: Given UT Knoxville’s integration within the broader University of Tennessee System, which currently operates under a single tenant, a templated approach could not be employed. Instead, we developed a specifically tailored look for our context. This meant applying the styling across sites individually as part of their initial setup. Any changes to that look and feel will require manual updates across sites, ensuring a cohesive look and feel tailored to our campus’s unique needs.

PROCESS AND STRATEGY

Process Blocks: 1. content audit, 2. content homing, 3. content revamp, 4. content placement, 5. content refinement, 6. content maintenance

Fourty-six different academic, administrative, and operational units across campus collaborated on this project. To coordinate these efforts, my team successfully executed 1,500 tasks to achieve all six project milestones on schedule for each participating unit.

this is a doughnut chart reflecting that there were right at 1.5 thoughsand tasks completed over the course of this project.
this is a visual image from Asana showcasing the number of individual partnership i managed through the 6 phases of this project. There are 26.

Key Platforms:

External Websites: Designed to foster learning and engagement, reinforcing our commitment to digital transformation for our external community.

Employee Intranet: A digital transformation effort to streamline internal communication and document sharing, facilitating better collaboration.

Student CRM: Integral to our digital transformation, this platform enhances the educational journey of our students with targeted support and resources.

Leadership and Collaboration: Spearheaded by the Office of Communications and Marketing alongside the Office of Information Technology, this digital transformation is a collaborative campus-wide effort. I served as part of a dedicated team consisting of 2 Digital Strategists and 2 Content Producers.

About the Intranet: At the heart of our digital transformation is UT Knoxville’s intranet. This web-based platform is being developed to enhance collaboration, communication, and knowledge sharing. It will feature interconnected sites and pages loaded with campus-wide content, all aimed at improving strategic communication and user experience.

Intranet Structure: A central hub equipped with a robust search feature will be the cornerstone of the intranet’s architecture, making it a key piece in our digital transformation puzzle. It will serve as a centralized location for accessing a wide range of internal information, with contributions from every academic college, administrative division, and unit.


Phases of Work

Phase 1: Content Audit

Evaluate content based on audience relevance and intent, setting the stage for our digital transformation content strategy.

EXPECTATION: SITE OWNERS

Assess all online content using our site crawler and audit tool

Collaborate with strategists for guidance and assistance

Categorize content based on relevancy and target audience


OPERATIONAL WORKFLOW: INTERNAL

Dx Team holds an initial meeting with content owners

Advise on content strategy and organization

Coach content owners through the completion of site audits


DOCUMENTATION AND TRACKING

Checklist for strategists with initial questions/checklists for content owners

Develop a working plan for content owners outlining the next action steps and path to completion

Help track what needs to be pulled from external site once hub launches


PHASE 2: Content Homing

Organize and categorize content, establishing the foundation for an intranet hub that aligns with our digital transformation vision.

EXPECTATION: SITE OWNERS

Gather/map content for intranet hub site

Assist in naming of content folders/files.

Determine visual flow of information


OPERATIONAL WORKFLOW: INTERNAL

Establish initial Team staging channel  + gather and “dump” files into broad folders

Name files/folders for eventual placement

Strategists work with hub site owners to determine timeline and site map


DOCUMENTATION and TRACKING

Collect naming conventions for informing use across Intranet

Broad Site map outline

Document any considerations and possible conflicts  that could arise 


PHASE 3: Content Revamp

Refresh or develop new content to fit within our digital transformation framework, preparing it for the intranet hub site.

EXPECTATION: SITE OWNERS

Serve as SME to  content needs

Organize content according to site map

Final approval. of content prior to migration to intranet hub site


OPERATIONAL WORKFLOW: INTERNAL

Producers assist in creation/recreation/revision of content as needed

Strategists coach through content alignment with site map

Populate files in appropriate folders for migration to Intranet


DOCUMENTATION and TRACKING

Establish content folders in Teams staging channel

Document(s) for On-Page content

Create a formalized approval for site owners/OIT/OCM to agree that files are ready to migrate to Intranet


PHASE 4: Content Placement

Develop the Hub and internal pages, ensuring content migration aligns with digital transformation goals.

EXPECTATION: SITE OWNERS

Assist in placement of content into site with alongside producers and strategists

Assist in adding design elements to pages as needed/desired

Consider additional needs and next steps would like to include


OPERATIONAL WORKFLOW: INTERNAL

Move content to final destination on backend of intranet site -OIT assist

Strategists work with OIT on template customization and implementation

Assist in placing content -particularly written content


DOCUMENTATION and TRACKING

Develop guidance documents for hub site owners (placement of content, FAQs, best practices)

track customization requests as they arrise

Track considerations and potential issues


PHASE 5: Content Refinement

Optimize the intranet based on user feedback, reflecting our commitment to continuous improvement in our digital transformation journey.

EXPECTATION: SITE OWNERS

Review and test intranet site for errors and navigation issues

Engage stakeholders for feedback

Implement necessary changes and finalize first draft for deployment


OPERATIONAL WORKFLOW: INTERNAL

Producers assist with troubleshooting and content edits

Strategists consult with stakeholder feedback

Strategists consult with OIT for technical issues


DOCUMENTATION and TRACKING

Create checklist to determine if site is ready for testing

Develop feedback mechanisms for beta testers (polls, surveys)

Generate formal authorization from site owner/OIT/OCM for ‘go-live’ readiness


PHASE 6: Content Maintenance

Keep the intranet current, showcasing it as a reliable digital transformation resource for employees.

EXPECTATION: SITE OWNERS

Keep intranet site updated with current information

Monitor for questions and issues

Ensure intranet remains a go-to destination for employees


OPERATIONAL WORKFLOW: INTERNAL

Strategists coach hub site owners through a plan for timely content updates

Monitor for questions and issues, providing support as needed


DOCUMENTATION and TRACKING

Provide guidance documents for hub site owners (updating procedures)

Create feedback polls to gauge user satisfaction


Testing and Implementation:

Conducting thorough user testing to refine our digital transformation outputs, guaranteeing they meet our internal community’s needs.

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