Best Looking Intranet 2018: Entegra Credit Union

With so much emphasis placed on architecture and navigation, it’s easy to lose sight of the significance of a visually appealing intranet. But a well-designed intranet isn’t just a pretty face. It helps reinforce branding, assists in adoption, and keeps users coming back.

As the winner of the Design category in the 2018 ThoughtFarmer Best Intranet Awards, Entegra Credit Union blew us away with their impressive visual design. From the colors to the branding consistency, to the unique ways they encouraged adoption, their submission caught the eye of our creative team.

Canadian credit union wows with award-winning intranet design

Entegra Credit Union is a fast-growing Manitoba based financial institution serving over 14,000 members across 4 branches and an online savings division.

When they launched ThoughtFarmer in 2017, Entegra was eager to take advantage of all the customization options available.

“When we launched our intranet we wanted staff to feel that they could talk freely and engage with one another, rather than feeling that this was a top-down way to share information. The goal was to make it a fun, safe space to ask questions, engage, and collaborate with fellow employees,” said Gabrielle Courteau, Marketing and Communications Manager at Entegra.

One of the first things they did was unveil a logo and identity. Entegra chose a rocket ship, which they named Orbit. It slowly became the inspiration for their entire site, and can now be spotted flying on most pages throughout their intranet.

Apart from the impressive visual design, Entegra also did a few other things that made their intranet special.

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Webinar: Simple and powerful forms & workflow on your intranet

When most of us think about an intranet, we visualize a vibrant page displaying corporate content, important contacts, and a calendar of events. But what most of us forget is that an intranet is also a place for doing things; not just reading things.

We are excited to announce our latest and greatest feature: ThoughtFarmer FormFlow! FormFlow is an add-on for ThoughtFarmer that helps streamline your processes, boost your efficiency, and allows you to accomplish more, faster.

Join us on September 26th, where we’ll discuss how you can:

  • Eliminate inconsistent manual processes with automation
  • Create custom forms that capture data with an approval process
  • Capture and share structured data


When: Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Time: 8:30 AM PST / 11:30 AM EST / 16:30 UK
Format: 30 minute presentation + 15 minutes Q&A
Presenter: Darren Gibbons, President & CEO of ThoughtFarmer

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How-to guide for intranet card sorting

Card sorting is a structured exercise that asks intranet users to sort a list of sample intranet content into logical groupings. It can be done online using software, or offline (in-person).

During the exercise, a user is provided with a list of examples of intranet content. The user then sorts the items on the list into groups of related cards and labels each grouping. When a number of users have completed the exercise, the organizer compares the results to identify patterns and insights as to where similar groupings did and did not occur.

There are two types of card sorting exercises: closed card sorting and open card sorting. In a closed card sort, participants are provided with the categories to sort the cards. In an open card sort, there are no predetermined categories and participants are given cards and asked to sort them in a way that makes sense to them.

Because open card sorting is more common and useful in the early stages of building an intranet’s IA, we only cover open card sorting here.

Why is card sorting important?

Card sorting helps build IA structure using terms and groupings that match users’ perspectives resulting in a simplified navigation.

Many poorly designed intranets are built by one person or a small group who create the navigation around their own personal perspectives. This can lead to sites that are self-centered, overly prescriptive, or mechanical. The site ends up matching how the designer thinks everyone else should see the content, rather than how users actually understand the content.

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Most Innovative Intranet 2018: MedData

As the winner of our Innovation category in the 2018 ThoughtFarmer Best Intranet Awards, MedData amazed and inspired us with what they were able to create. From gamification elements to customized sounds to a unique news digest, they took innovation to a whole new level.

How MedData created a unique, engaging, and customized intranet

MedData is a healthcare technology company that helps hospitals enhance the patient experience. Like many other healthcare organizations, people are at the centre of what they do. It was therefore important for MedData to acquire an intranet that connected their employees to the resources they needed to effectively do their jobs.

When MedData deployed ThoughtFarmer in 2016, they were excited to take advantage of all the customization opportunities available. This level of personalization helped them align the intranet with their corporate objectives and playful culture. It also helped them find creative and innovative ways for employees to discover and leverage all the tools they required to be successful in their roles.

MedData named their intranet Pulse (we love the name, too!). One of the first things they did was incorporate gamification elements. They created customized badges for employees who completed certain activities on the intranet. This spurred immediate adoption after launch and encouraged engagement.

They also used Pulse to create a patient advocate resources section for on-site hospital staff. This allowed MedData employees to easily place orders for things like uniforms and patient brochures. “Pulse allows us to not only maintain a centralized location for all of our resources, it also allows us to be creative with HOW we offer them,” said Rachel Rahm, Digital Marketing Manager at MedData.

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Most Impactful Intranet 2018: BOK Financial

This year we had a lot of amazing submissions that inspired us, entertained us, and opened our eyes to what was possible with ThoughtFarmer. Our clients entered their intranets into three categories: Design, Impact, and Innovation.

Today we are profiling BOK Financial. Apart from winning the Impact category, they have an incredible story that we couldn’t wait to share.

Intranet Unifies BOK Financial Employees Following Devastating Tornado

What would your organization do if a crisis impacted your ability to communicate with every single one of your employees?

It’s hard to prepare for the brunt of Mother Nature, especially with something as unpredictable as a tornado; but that’s what BOK Financial (BOKF) employees were forced to do last summer, when an unexpected storm hit their central office in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Immediately after the storm hit, employees were left without access to email, banking systems, corporate website, or their automated phone systems.

It all began in August 2017 when an F2 tornado struck the Tulsa area, blowing a retaining wall into a generator at the BOKF operations center. While Tulsa is located in Tornado Alley, a Tornado in August is rare. In fact, it was the first tornado to hit the area in the month of August since 1958.

The 30 billion dollar financial services institution was literally and figuratively in the dark in regards to their technology systems.

The financial institution did, however, have a way of communicating—through their intranet.

Just three months prior, BOKF had deployed ThoughtFarmer. Because it was hosted in the cloud, it was easily accessible to any BOKF employee through their mobile device.

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Webinar: The IT Professionals Guide to a Robust, Secure, and Customized Intranet

Remember that time you were tasked with finding a new intranet? When your communication colleagues talked about engagement, your HR team discussed needing centralized forms and information, and your executive team was focused on ROI?

Ahem. What about the stuff that really matters? Like the security, hosting, and integrations? After all, an intranet is a piece of technology that impacts your entire organization!

Don’t worry, we get it. And that’s why we are devoting an entire webinar to the needs of IT professionals.

View the recording

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14 Questions to Ask in a Corporate Culture Audit

Culture plays an enormous role in the health of an organization, but it can feel invisible to those immersed in it. And because many of us don’t see it, we have difficulty understanding what our culture is, and more importantly, what areas require improvement.

Whether your corporate culture is in need of a minor tweaking or, a major overhaul, it’s never too late to begin the journey of improving your culture.

What Is Culture?

Organizational culture is a broad term that encompasses all aspects of an organization’s environment. It is much more than providing free snacks and a foosball table. Your organization’s culture is an amalgamation of employee life experiences, combined with the impact of executive influence. Other factors include:

  • Employee personal values
  • Workplace procedures, behaviors, policies, relationships, and employee expectations
  • Company stories and interactions
  • Employee recognition programs  

Why Does it Matter?

While it can be tempting to dismiss the significance of a strong corporate culture, it has the potential to make or break your organization.  

While the benefits of a positive workplace culture run aplenty, the costs of a negative culture run as deep. Poor workplace cultures are generally characterized by employee negativity, complaining, underachievement, low levels of trust, and high turnover, and according to Dying for a Paycheck author Jeffrey Pfeffer, toxic workplaces and job stress cost US employers more than $300 billion every year in the United States.

Why Conduct a Culture Audit?

Even if you think your company has a strong corporate culture, there are a few reasons to assess it.

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How-to guide for intranet task testing

Task testing is a popular tool for building an intuitive intranet information architecture (IA). It’s a quick process that typically follows card sorting in the series of steps for designing a user-centered intranet navigation.

Task testing fills a critical role that card sorting doesn’t: it evaluates the findability of content. If you are committed to building a user-friendly navigation for your employees, you need task testing.

Like intranet card sorting, task testing doubles as a user engagement opportunity and can help build a foundation for sustained intranet adoption.

What is task testing?

Task testing assesses how well a site navigation matches users’ perspectives. It answers the question, “Can users navigate the new sitemap to easily find the information they need?” Intranet teams typically use task testing after creating a proposed sitemap, which is based on completing a content audit and card sorting.

Task testing is implemented using a simplified mockup of a site’s draft navigation. An intranet team comes up with specific tasks related to information on the intranet and participants identify where they would expect to find the information.

For example,  you just returned from a business trip and you need to document your expenses and submit them for reimbursement. Where would you expect to find the necessary information?

A participant would then click through the navigation mockup looking for the correct content to complete that task. The point is to gauge how well the navigation labelling and organization helps participants complete tasks.

It’s important to note that the participant is never wrong, and low success rates in testing convey weaknesses in the navigation’s design.

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Webinar: ThoughtFarmer’s Best Intranet Awards

It’s time to crown the champions for the most innovative, collaborative, and impactful ThoughtFarmer intranets!

Want to find out if your intranet won an award? Want to draw inspiration from other amazing intranets?

In this 30-minute webinar, our awesome Director of Customer Success, Carolien Dekeersmaeker, will present our annual Best Intranet Awards recipients, and show you some of the amazing submissions we received. This year our clients entered their intranets into three categories:

  • Innovation: This category recognizes extraordinary intranets that push the boundaries. This could be a unique integration, using a feature in an interesting way, or doing something outside the intranet box.
  • Design: This award is all about the visual design of your intranet. Decided by our Creative Director, winners in this category excel at providing an intranet that is visually appealing, and intuitive in design.
  • Impact: The impact category applauds intranets that have achieved quantifiable business outcomes. This could include an increase in productivity, a reduction in email use, or a tangible improvement in employee engagement.

We also introduced a fourth category, which gave our ThoughtFarmer community a chance to choose their favorite:

  • People’s Choice: The ThoughtFarmer community is filled with intranet experts. Top entrants of each category will be selected to be voted on by you! People’s Choice voting will kick-off a few weeks before the winners are crowned at the Best Intranet Awards webinar.

Join us on July 18th to celebrate the victors and get inspired to create your own award-winning intranet.

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What makes good collaboration? 10 real-world tips

Intranets can improve collaboration, but we often lose sight of the fact that good collaboration ultimately depends on people, not technology.

Here are ten real-world tips that will help you improve collaboration at your work.

  1. Constantly clarify roles, especially in meetings: “Who’s facilitating the meeting? Who’s noting next steps?” Overlapping or unclear roles lead to confusion, duplicate efforts, and oversights in follow-up.
  2. Explicitly state responsibilities: Never say “we’ll do X” because then it’ll never happen. Whenever there is a follow up item, state the single person responsible as well as the due date.
  3. Be honest about mistakes: A manager sets the tone for their team. If they admit mistakes and expect team members to call them out when they violate team norms, then they will set a powerful example for accountability.
  4. Go into the conflict zone, respectfully: In his book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni lists “fear of conflict” as dysfunction #2, and offers tips on how teams can deal with conflict effectively. Conflict is important — deftly handling it can expose important problems, help team members improve their performance, and bring people closer together.
  5. Explicitly identify who’s responsible for each decision & how it will be made: Is this agenda item a group decision, or is the manager trying to gather input for their decision? Does everyone need to agree or will 3-out-of-5 be enough to decide? Lack of clarity here leads to false assumptions, wandering discussions and confusion.
  6. Create an online workspace, together: Don’t make your online workspace the administrative assistant’s responsibility alone.
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