A New Intranet is Coming! Part 2

by Jonathan Lumpkin, IT Manager II, Department of Information Technology
New Intranet

In any given week, almost 3,000 employees view nearly 12,000 different pages on our intranet. Known as Virtual (http://virtual.henrico), it plays a large part in many employees day-to-day work. It is an access point to so many tools and a great way for the County to privately share employee-specific information.  

Virtual, in its present form, is still relevant but a bit outdated; having been in use for 20 years. The Department of Information Technology (IT) decided it was time to investigate new possibilities and also knew replacing something with such a legacy was not going to be an easy feat.  IT began by surveying employees on what they would like to see in a new intranet. Ideas of more dynamic content, searchability, and calendars were the most common answer. IT took this feedback, their web analytics, and research into modern intranets to design and build something new; from the ground up. Their solution was to transition to SharePoint- a tool IT is very excited about. SharePoint is already being used by many County agencies and  IT sees many more potential uses for in the County.  

This is the largest SharePoint project yet and is led by IT Systems Developer II, Morgan Edwards. He is now well known for his vast Office 365 knowledge and some of his earlier work at the County was the development and maintenance of Virtual. His long-time understanding of how the County does business, how people like to interact with similar tools, and his history with the intranet, have allowed IT to develop something impressive; something that honors what people enjoyed about the old intranet, as well as provide so many new things moving forward.   

What is being developed is a modern intranet- a collection of sites that users can move in and out of depending on their various tasks throughout the day. IT didn’t just take the old site and make it prettier, they reorganized it for a better user experience and accessibility. Similar to the approach taken on https://henrico.govseveral years ago, services will have a bigger approach than pure department-centered organization. Users will be able to interact with County services from various departments for both their job responsibilities and as a participant. In addition, from nearly anywhere on the site, users can reach other popular pages; like the phone directory or employee resources.  Users will also be able to access this new site from their computer or mobile devices and still have all content instantly searchable across not just the County intranet, but all permitted SharePoint sites; a one-stop shop.  

 Other changes include a new sites for Café 1611 to show you their menu (one of the more popular current sites) and the new employee resources section with services, forms, policies, and more of what is useful to County employees; a calendar tracking events going on around the County, upcoming holidays, Board Meetings, and paydays; and new internal-service organization sites dedicated to sharing more information with employees.  


IT plans to launch the new Intranet (SharePoint) before the end of the year and will be redirecting the URL for ‘virtual’ to SharePoint. Not to worry, Virtual will not be going away just yet, but will be available using a new link. The old Virtual site will be phased out over time, and communication about it will be available on the new intranet.  


Please keep in mind that even after implementation, this will be an ongoing project.  As IT sees how the site is being used, they will begin adapting to the needs of the organization. Employees can use the Feedback form to let IT know their likes, concerns and needs of the new intranet. IT has already received and implemented a lot feedback-based updates since previewing this project a month ago.  


If you are interested in leveraging tools like SharePoint and other Office products, IT is ready to help. Check out the new site request form if you are ready to take that step!