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In late 2008, Heritage Hotel Management (HHM) was looking for an intranet solution. With more than 500 employees across 9 sites throughout New Zealand, it was becoming increasingly important to have efficient ways of distributing information and managing communications across the group.
Theta had just rebuilt our own website on Drupal, an open source content management system (CMS), and knew that with Drupal we could deliver the flexible and dynamic intranet Heritage was looking for - in a cost-effective way. Drupal has an active developer community, with contributed modules to cover most scenarios for quick implementation. Its strong security model and the ability to rapidly create structured custom content types made it a good choice for this project.
We developed the intranet in phases – testing the waters with a lightweight implementation first, to deliver functionality needed by HR. Subsequent phases implemented searchable document libraries to replace Outlook Public Folders, and added features that facilitate communication and information sharing across the hotel chain.
The resulting intranet is, according to IT Operations Coordinator Michaela Donald, “simple and user-friendly, with an efficient, easy to manage front-end. You don’t have to invest a huge amount of time to get a good result with it, and the people who use it love it.” She adds: “the security and user management built into Drupal are really useful too, giving us complete control over who can access different areas of the intranet.”
Features include a searchable staff directory, news and events information, searchable and downloadable policies and forms, and job ads. The intranet provides additional services and levels of access for users in different business units, such as sales and marketing (eg a searchable database of ratecards and offers, and a competitor database), finance and HR. The annual staff survey now takes place via the intranet, and some aspects of staff training like health and safety quizzes will soon be moved online too.
The intranet is an effective channel for quickly and consistently getting information out to staff that has more than proved its worth in the recent Christchurch earthquake. Heritage Christchurch is in Cathedral Square, right at the heart of the city’s worst-affected “red-zone”. Through pictures and bulletins posted on the intranet – the default homepage for all Heritage staff - those at other sites could quickly find out what the situation in Christchurch was.
Now that it’s well established as a platform for sharing information across the hotel chain, we’re working with Heritage to further develop the intranet. Areas of focus include the automation of manual processes like leave requests and changes of staff contact details, as well as the addition of more interactive features.
Graham Yan, HHM’s Chief Financial Officer, comments: “We are very pleased with the outcome of this project. Theta performed very well, and we’re now working with them on a number of ongoing projects.”