Creating a Global Network

By Elizabeth Harper, CIO, GHD

Elizabeth Harper, CIO, GHD

Engineering, architecture and environmental consulting companies will always present unique IT challenges.

The industry is increasingly global, with both employees and clients expecting seamless collaboration regardless of location. For these companies, the intranet needs to be more than just a place to house policies and org charts. The traditional intranet needs to evolve into a central meeting point for professionals to come together and work effectively as a cohesive team spanning geographic boundaries.

When people from different disciplines, offices and countries work together, having access to the same files, software and business systems not only help to complete a specific process or task, it also plays a role in creating feeling of cohesion and in building relationships between colleagues who may never meet face-to-face. From this perspective, IT is an enabler of the larger business strategy.

GHD spans more than 200 offices around the world and around 75 different technical services. While this complexity may appear bewildering, our strategic vision is to operate as a connected global network, bringing the right skills to clients and offering international career opportunities to our people.

Realising this vision includes making sure that people have access to the same systems whether they are in the office, with a client, on site or working remotely. This is especially important when people work on complex and highly detailed visual representations of different systems and processes, such as 3D models and maps.

At the same time as achieving reliability and connectivity, the IT team has to safeguard the business and secure confidential information.

To provide a common collaboration platform, the IT team, in consultation with other areas of the business, has progressively developed and rolled out iConnect, our new intranet built on SharePoint 2013.

At the centre is a project portal where employees can access all information about an individual project from multiple sources in one place. The system is also accelerating knowledge sharing, thanks to an active newsfeed and discussion tools, knowledge communities, and extensive metadata for improved search and discoverability.

One of the benefits we have seen is that iConnect has brought to light the depth of technical capabilities within the organisation. Our people are posting questions and answers, seeking advice, sharing documents and attracting responses from all around the business. If someone is facing a technical problem, there is often someone else who has solved a similar issue in the past. We can also readily identify people who have experience with specific types of projects or in particular locations.

The systems we used previously were never designed for this kind of complexity, the variety of applications we use or for the levels of collaboration we need to achieve.

Making the transition to iConnect has also provided an opportunity to rethink, simplify and streamline many of the other systems we use. For example, are progressively deploying iConnect portals for many of our business services, including human resources, legal, risk, and insurance, making it simple to find and access key information.

The iConnect project shows how IT teams in professional services firms can tailor an intranet solution aligned to company, client and industry-specific requirements. The end result adds significant value to support the work of technical professionals and helps the business realise its strategic vision.

Weekly Brief

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