Making a tough job that little bit easier with Brian (the BEST intranet)

Brian was born because as a business we wanted to streamline processes and improve communication throughout our branches.

Before I begin I should explain a little bit about what Thorn Baker do, how Brian was created, the initial resistance (recruiters don’t like change!), then highlight some of the key areas where Brian has made a real difference to the business, for the teams and the individuals.

Thorn Baker is a recruitment agency with offices in 9 locations throughout the UK. With around ninety staff, the business serves six distinct sectors with most of our support staff based in the Nottingham Head Office. Supplying 1000’s of workers across hundreds of locations presents multiple logistical communication challenges when supported only by a CRM system and Outlook.

As we began our Brian journey we discovered we had 173 different spreadsheets, 23 shared drives and 6 different ways to book a holiday. If you wanted to find out a colleague’s mobile number you’d need to ring someone to find out what it was…etc etc. That is just an example of ‘Life before Brian’.

Brian’s initial completion for launch complemented the company journey, with the launch of a new business plan being one of the first items shared. Everyone was a little apprehensive at first, certainly Paul (our Director) was concerned that people just wouldn’t ‘get it’, and that the initial interest would fade. And he was right. Recruiters are not known for embracing change and the loss of shared drives was like taking away Christmas for some.

The first sign that Brian had made a difference was our internal staff survey of July 2013. Everyone thought Brian had improved communication, some ‘a little’, some ‘a lot’, and this is a theme that has continued. Booking a holiday became easy, people became ‘more social’ and celebrated the wins – be it a GBP100k client or a GBP5k fee, people loved to share instead of just lurking. Newsletters became Directors monthly updates and visibility of performance increased massively and improved transparency.

The staff handbook changed from being a mystical PDF that existed on someone’s desktop, to an easy-to-reach indexed resource. Want to read our paternity policy? No problem. Need to know how your bonus scheme works? No problem. There are of course one or two people that still don’t ‘get it’, but they are a small minority. Other senior people took time to ‘get it’ but now using Brian comes naturally, it’s part of the DNA of Thorn Baker.

2015 saw us upgrade our intranet to the latest Version 7 giving Brian a little facelift, and taking him to the next level.

For example, we now have a 36 module suite of training material that our people can download, book training and provide feedback via Workflow & Forms. This has given us a clear way of reporting and tracking our internal staff training, and allowed us to communicate feedback and work on improving the training courses.

Training page (00000002)

We’ve also launched recent initiatives such as the TB Rewards Club and High Flyers Club and share on the homepage our Customer Satisfaction results.

Brian looks after our day-to-day stuff, really, really well – credit control, health and safety, compliance and auditing are all second nature for Brian and the people that interact with him. Order business cards – easy. Order a hire car – easy. We’ve achieved all the above without a full time Intranet Manager and without any prior intranet knowledge.

According to one of the girls in the Leeds branch her biggest reason for loving Brian is that she can stalk the new starters!

Homepage (00000002)

Paul keeps wondering what on earth he will do if I get run over by a bus – probably because he knows how essential Brian is to Thorn Baker and the knowledge I have amassed on my journey. If that was to happen, I’m sure he’d have nothing to be concerned about because now everyone owns a part of Brian.

I’m not sure exactly when this transition took place but I sense it’s after the launch of Version 7. What I am sure about is that Brian is a fantastic success story. He has improved our time efficiency and massively improved how communication flows through the company. Ultimately, it meets the needs of the business to communicate performance, but at the ‘coal face’ where the ‘real work’ gets done, it simply makes the very tough job our people do that little bit easier in a world where most stuff is becoming more complex and demanding. That’s what makes Brian a real Success!