Along with the myriad of enterprise solutions around Digital Transformation, global employee portals are one of the most interesting ones. This type of portal has one unique mission: bringing workforces from different sites and countries to collaborate in a common, secure space.
Global employee portals are a critical component of digital workplaces as they provide both collaboration functionalities and the security level needed to protect their data and content. Their complexity lies in attending to multiple audiences, employing workflows for multiple languages, and addressing many different needs. Depending on the countries and departments, a portal may require meeting different security and legal requirements.
In terms of implementation, they can also impose challenges such as migrating over 300,000 pieces of content from one digital platform to another or providing content author training in multiple countries and languages.
At Base22, we have had the opportunity to work with the biggest brands in the world—our portal solutions have served over 400,000 employees, over 150 countries, and over 30 languages. Here are some insights on how to build and maintain successful global employee portals.
1. Information Architecture is Key to Establishing Governance Between Regions, Locations, and Departments
Many organizations believe that bringing their corporate structure as the main architecture for content is the most effective way to go. But this approach doesn’t necessarily mean that your employees will find the content they want. With a user-centric perspective—like our Content-First approach— you can establish an Information Architecture for your global employee portal that focuses on internal audience needs, key objectives, and overall findability. While corporate structure will always be present, creating content hubs and setting up the road for hyper-personalized experiences will help your audiences to feed on the information they need.
2. For Organizations with Large Workforces, Self-Service is the Way to Go
Organizations and companies with thousands of employees face the challenge of a permanent, constant influx of requests related to employee needs and internal processes. Managing these requests on a 1-1 basis is an impossible task—and that’s why implementing self-service is critical. Global employee portals should provide all essential information and digital processes to allow employees to resolve their own needs through a digital process without an agent’s support, reducing process costs from departments such as HR, Admin, and IT.
Another key insight is that self-service functionality improves the employee experience: if employees resolve their needs quickly—like a vacation request or reviewing their benefits—their overall satisfaction increases and drives productivity.
3. Mobile Design Plays a Critical Role with Field and Front-line Workers
The bigger the organization, the more internal audiences with different needs it has. As mentioned in this blog, one of the internal audiences we always keep in mind with employee-facing portals are front-line workers, such as drivers, salespersons, technicians, cashiers, or any other type of field worker. This group has a particular need, which is being able to have access to corporate information and resources when they are working remotely or in the field.
Global employee portals that want to reach most of their workforce need to consider a mobile design—either a mobile responsive solution or a mobile application. With the right guidance and experience, you can create workflows and automation that leverage this capacity to be in the field, such as forms, project documentation, and task tracking, and make your global employee portal a powerful tool that shares fresh data from the field to HQs.
4. An Important Audience for Global Employee Portals: Content Authors
A solution is not a solution unless it is adopted. As portal and digital platform experts, we believe that one of the keys to success for global employee portals is driving adoption from the very first moment of the project. And for that, you need to focus on content authors. Content authors are the main force behind global employee portals: they are responsible for creating a digital experience for the rest of the workforce and also updating and running your portal on an everyday basis. Change management plans and adoption efforts need to consider content authors as one of the main audiences of the project—and provide them with the right resources and tools to share the value of the new solution with internal audiences.
5. Successful Global Employee Portals Integrate Data, Content, and Applications from Multiple Sources
One of the things we have learned during our time as a firm is how rich and valuable a global employee portal can be when they integrate other systems. This means bringing content, data, and resources from systems and applications such as ERPs and CRMs into a single touchpoint—a horizontal portal. With this approach, a global employee portal becomes the main point of communication for organizations and enterprises not only by providing easy access to applications and tools but also by enabling access to the subject matter experts. This is what truly helps to consolidate the “company memory” in one single location. As one of our Managing Partners mentioned in an interview previously in this blog, sharing expertise across the organization is what makes an effective and productive digital workplace.
6. Going Global Means Being Able to Build Fast
Migrating content into a new Digital Experience Platform and launching a new global employee portal is one thing. Being able to build sites as a response to the rising needs of the company is another. In our experience, large organizations and enterprises always have needs and demands that will expand the content and reach of a new global employee portal. After launching a new portal, it becomes critical to support the IT team in managing it. This is why our approach includes supporting our projects with design systems: UX components, widgets, templates, layouts, and page builders that will enable IT teams to create new sites and pages quickly. With design systems, IT teams gain agility while complying with branding guidelines, ensuring that the digital experience stays consistent. But more importantly: you have an important set of tools to help the global employee portal to grow in an orderly manner.
7. Employee Portal Redesigns Support Employee Experience
Adaptation means being able to improve with time. It’s a very handy concept when companies want to know how to build an employee portal that targets satisfaction, productivity, and employee experience. Supported by analytics and user research, organizations should consider redesigning their employee-facing portal every 2-3 years to address rising employee experience needs. Improving findability, creating new workflows, improving journeys, increasing employee experience, and creating new content hubs are some of the things you can improve with a portal UX redesign. A good example of this: the redesign project of the TeamKFC portal, an intranet that supports their franchisee operations in the US, serving over 4,000 restaurants. You can read some of the achievements of this project here. Like any other solution, global employee portals require attention and fine-tuning to be able to perform to their full potential.
The Secret to Success? Building a Unique Global Employee Portal
Global employee portals are complete ecosystems—almost like living creatures—that can last for decades. Bringing your business model to the core of your global employee portal is what will drive success, both in the short term and the long term. Don’t spend time on tasks that don’t add value. Use portal accelerators, leverage a design system, and make the most out of DXP functionality, so you can focus on business growth. Pay attention to what matters—setting up the pieces and process that will make your portal feel like home.
Whether on-premise or Cloud, we can help you. If you are looking for an experienced partner for an upcoming employee portal or need global employee services, use the form below to drop us a line, and let’s start building your new global portal together.