CHS Source is an intranet for internal communications and employee self-service. A Fortune 100 agriculture, energy and financial services company, CHS has 11,000 employees in the US, the Middle East, South America, and Central and Eastern Asia.
For this project, I was hired on as a UX consultant to a design agency. Agency models are typically about the "reveal", where UX and product design is iterative and collaborative. There was an initial resistance with the design agency in collaboration and "high touch" with the client's sponsor team. As well, the client sponsor team had an expectation set by previous agencies to get a final delivered design without much participation on their part. I'd said in varying degrees over time, I couldn't solve all their problems, but would find the common ground between users, business goals and technology limitations.
Fortunately, early on the design agency's mindset changed. We'd exposed the many problems the intranet had–and the design agency saw the potential for ongoing billable work. As we'd learned more about the sponsor team, we found their areas of expertise—and I was able to work one-on-one on certain goals, which gave the sponsors ownership and a good knowledge base of the issues we were facing. By the end of the project, I feel they could accomplish many roadmap goals on their own, without the use of the design agency.
Another challenge was that the IT group had adopted so many third-party applications that didn't have deep linking or guidance. Some content on the intranet pulled in media, like videos, into the intranet–but if the user didn't have access, the content wouldn't display. It was broken in many regards. The employees expected everything to work as one seamless site, and it would have been logistically impossible for the IT group to decouple everything. We'd taken off small bites, with very particular user flows or needs, and began passing data back and forth to support key tasks like town hall video integration, or passing user data to the benefits application so users wouldn't get lost or derailed. It was a challenge, and will be an ongoing challenge–but now they are aware thoughtful integration is needed when new applications are added.