Paul Holmes 27 Jun 2001 // 11:00PM GMT
Today’s employees are overwhelmed by “information glut.” Workers are bombarded by too much, from too many sources -- from thousands of Internet sites to an increasing number of online corporate applications and intranet content.
To improve information management and strengthen communication to over 88,000 employees worldwide, Hewlett-Packard developed @hp, a business-to-employee (B2E) intranet portal. A CEO-driven initiative, @hp is a vital part of HP’s reinvention, expected to contribute significantly to $1bn in infrastructure savings. Designed in partnership with Yahoo!, the portal will also provide a personalized company starting point for the Web that combines all the streams of information employees need, packaged in an easy-to-use browser interface.
HP realized internal communications were critical to ensuring employee adoption of the portal, and teamed with Porter Novelli Convergence Group (PNCG) to plan and implement a campaign unprecedented within HP for its visibility, scope, and global reach. Development began in Q1 2000, and @hp successfully launched on October 23, 2000.
The team faced several challenges as the @hp portal communications program rolled out:
- HP is a decentralized company, with a lack of robust enterprise-wide communications vehicles
- No consistent approach or mechanism for international communications
- An internal communications campaign of this scope was unprecedented within the company
- Globalization requirements and translation of all materials had to be completed within tight timeframes
- The launch date and scope of the portal continually evolved. This required ongoing strategic refocusing of messages and communications.
- The program and its elements had to be developed and executed within an extremely short implementation timeframe
PLANNING AND STRATEGY
Goals/Objectives: The program was designed to achieve awareness of @hp among 50 percent of HP employees within one month of going live. To measure this objective, HP set several tracking metrics to gauge the number of hits to the portal on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
Strategy and Research: Traditionally, HP’s internal communications efforts have been developed from headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., with little, if any global input, and distributed first in the United States, then to the rest of the world. Materials would be produced in English, with local sites coordinating translations as needed. We took a different approach with the launch of @hp.
Before implementing, the team conducted global focus groups to test key messages among HP employees and managers around the world. Once messaging was complete, we: 1) identified the most appropriate and effective communications vehicles, 2) provided each audience with the information and tools necessary to raise awareness, and 3) used new and existing channels and delivery mechanisms to ensure that the message was heard by all managers and employees. Combining these strategies was particularly important because of widely varying internal audiences, complex messages, and a number of decentralized businesses and communications models.
Our “rolling thunder” implementation strategy built on messages with a blend of on- and off-line tactics, from posters and print brochures tailored for each region, to targeted e-mail messages and an online information kit containing FAQs, fact sheets and backgrounders, all available in each HP language. To encourage managers to hold on-site briefings about the portal with their employees, we created several presentations with speaker notes, available for download, also in each HP language.
Wherever possible, we emphasized online and interactive vehicles – as well as those that could be quickly downloaded and locally printed and distributed. This approach helped manage costs, and enabled global implementation of the plan. HP and PNCG developed several electronic cards (e-cards) that creatively highlighted top-level portal messages with Flash animation and music. We also developed an online portal demo to familiarize employees with key features and functions, as well as a password-protected website where HP communicators could download posters and e-cards in the language of their choice.
Communications tactics and materials included:
- E-cards – an HP and PN first
- E-mail/Voicemail announcements
- Feature articles in company publications
- E-kit (with FAQs, backgrounders, etc.)
- Post-it notes – branded with logo and URL
- Pre-launch informational website
- Portal demo – interactive walk-through
- Net meetings – online briefing sessions
- Presentations – full “meeting-in-a-box” for managers to conduct portal briefings
Crisis management was also a critical component of a launch with this visibility and significance. Per our suggestion, we developed a communications plan that defined crisis scenarios and detailed appropriate processes, actions and messages.
With more than 88,000 employees at 540 sites in 120 countries, HP defines the global company. To meet program objectives and ensure a successful launch, communications needed to reach a diverse and multi-faceted audience of employees, managers, functional leaders (e.g. HR directors) and company executives. We also translated all communications materials into the company’s official languages: Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), English, French, French-Canadian, German, Korean, Japanese and Spanish, a first for HP Corporate Communications.
@hp successfully went live on October 23, 2000. The team used various mechanisms to gauge overall response to the portal, including detailed tracking of visits to the site, e-mail surveys, and an on-line feedback form.
Usage statistics: More than half of HP’s worldwide employees logged on to the portal in its first week. Since its launch, an average of 20,000 visit the @hp portal each day, with more than 50,000 registered users in the first month—exceeding the team’s goal of 50% awareness among employees.
E-mail surveys: We conducted e-mail and phone surveys with HP internal communicators worldwide to measure the effectiveness of the program and of each tactical component. Overall, respondents were highly satisfied with portal communications program materials and results.
Employee feedback: We integrated an online feedback form within @hp that has generated interactive communication that exceeded expectations. Employee and manager response has been very positive, and the communications team continues to monitor suggestions and comments to integrate in future releases of @hp.
”The communications program for the @hp portal launch developed by PNCG exceeded our goals, and was successful from an employee perspective, from HP management’s perspective, and from a content delivery perspective. The effectiveness of this internal campaign resulted in a highly successful global launch that ensures the portal will serve as a platform for creating additional e-services for HP employees worldwide.” – Lee Bonds, HP Portal Program Manager