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London Fire Brigade fires up new intranet hero image

London Fire Brigade fires up new intranet

London Fire Brigade is one of the largest firefighting and rescue organisations in the world, protecting 8.6 million Londoners and the 30 million annual visitors over an area of nearly 1,000 square miles.

Technology used :

SharePoint Online

London Fire Brigade fires up new intranet hero image
What were the challenges?
  • Impending end-of-life of their current platform – SharePoint 2013
  • The LFB SharePoint 2013 infrastructure was too complex
  • Significant admin burden on staff
  • Limited hybrid & remote working capabilities
  • Difficult to integrate with other Microsoft applications
What was the solution?
  • In-depth migration assessment review to determine required solutions & integrations
  • User training workshops with LFB focused on SharePoint online
  • A proof of concept allowed key elements to be visualised before implementation
  • Significant migrations all managed by Silversands with minimal user disruption
What were the results?
  • Out-dated infrastructure replaced with a powerful cloud platform
  • Significantly reduced admin burden
  • Better user experience and increased functionality with SharePoint Online
  • Enables hybrid working as an option for staff
  • Increased security, data, and threat protection

The Background

Over the years we have helped London Fire Brigade (LFB) develop many SharePoint 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2019 systems. Due to the impending end-of-life of the SharePoint 2013 platform in April 2023, LFB decided to modernise its platforms by moving to SharePoint Online.

The organisational intranet, known as Hotwire, was one of the solutions impacted by this migration. Hotwire provides organisational news as well as policies, guides, documents, and other typical intranet content.

For the past 19 years, we have been actively working with London Fire Brigade as its go-to SharePoint partner.

We have designed, built, and maintained many strategic SharePoint environments over this time, including intranets and large-scale document & record management solutions for employee records and major incident case files.

Background
  • Impending end-of-life of their current platform
  • Current infrastructure was too complex for users
  • Too much time spent on admin tasks
  • Staff struggled to access the platform remotely
  • Struggled to integrate with other applications
<p><em>We are proud to have worked with LFB for 19 years and the faith shown in Silversands is a testament to our expertise and ability to deliver projects efficiently and effectively.</em></p>

We are proud to have worked with LFB for 19 years and the faith shown in Silversands is a testament to our expertise and ability to deliver projects efficiently and effectively.

Mike Tansey, Account Executive, Silversands

The Solution

At the start of the project, we performed a migration assessment review to map and understand the current state environment. This review and the plan it generated covered elements including technical considerations, dependencies, migration approach & planning, training requirements, project comms, content migration & go-live preparation.

It provided the LFB team with a clear understanding of what would be involved, and all the required project elements needed to ensure a successful outcome.

Through several workshops, we provided design advice, best practice guidance and considerations related to modern SharePoint structures, layouts, page templates and navigation. Following this, and to help LFB visualise and understand the new possibilities, we created a proof of concept solution to show the look & feel and key features available within SharePoint Online.

Following finalisation of the various design decisions, the new Hotwire platform was created in SharePoint Online, ready to receive the migration of the ‘news’ content. This was achieved using a scripted process to export the existing news pages and import them into SharePoint Online. Prior to making the pages live, any broken links were resolved.

To ensure that LFB’s 80 content editors understood the new platform and how to make the best use of it, we delivered training on the new components available, how to create pages, how to manage the content and how to work within a newly defined lifecycle management process.

For the final phase of the project, we migrated the non-news pages, documents, and lists, resolving any broken links and references before publishing to live.

Since there was some concern that LFB staff summer holidays would introduce delays in the completion of the project, all activity was completed between March and July, with minimal user disruption, on-time and within budget.

Alongside the Hotwire migration, we also delivered two other projects; a migration of an equally significant document management system, Brigade-Wide Documents, and the transformation and migration of an employee records system, MyEmployment. All three projects were delivered fully remotely over Teams and managed by our project manager as a single programme.

Solution
  • Migration assessment and plan completed
  • Proof of concept created to demonstrate new features & capabilities
  • New Hotwire intranet created in SharePoint Online
  • News and document content migrated by script
  • Content editors trained on new platform
<p><em>Working with Silversands has been great, they navigated our many systems to produce a new intranet on time and on budget. The team were always on hand to answer any questions we had and were so helpful as we moved through each phase of the project. A brilliant group of people to work with!</em></p>
What did the client say?

Working with Silversands has been great, they navigated our many systems to produce a new intranet on time and on budget. The team were always on hand to answer any questions we had and were so helpful as we moved through each phase of the project. A brilliant group of people to work with!

Rebecca Burton, Senior Internal Digital Officer at the London Fire Brigade.

The Results

The move from SharePoint 2013 to SharePoint Online provides many benefits to the brigade, the admin team and the users.

  • Without the complex SharePoint 2013 infrastructure to support, manage and refresh, the admin burden is substantially reduced, allowing the Sharepoint team to focus their time more efficiently.
  • Running on a fully managed and resilient cloud platform, SharePoint Online offers greater reliability than the on-premises physical infrastructure.
  • As a modern platform, SharePoint Online has much richer functionality and can integrate tightly with other Microsoft 365 services such as Forms and Power Platform, enabling richer, more powerful, more productive and user-friendly experiences.
  • Unlike SharePoint 2013, SharePoint Online is mobile-friendly and easily accessible outside the LFB offices. This is a particularly significant improvement for the users, as the brigade has moved to a hybrid working model.
  • The advanced security available with the Microsoft 365 platform ensures that Hotwire and its data are fully protected from unauthorised access, data loss and numerous other threats.
  • For content editors, the management lifecycle process is much more straightforward than in the legacy platform, making it easier to create, update and control content. This helps to ensure that information is more up-to-date and relevant for the users.

Ultimately, London Fire Brigade and its users are delighted with the capabilities, flexibility and ease-of-use of the new Hotwire intranet running on SharePoint Online, delivered on time and on budget by the Silversands consultants and project managers.

As a content editor, I'm finding the new Hotwire to be amazing. The things you can do to pages now to personalise them are amazing and I keep finding myself coming up with ideas on top of ideas!

AK

Hotwire, on my personal phone?  At home? I think it's brilliant!

GNW

Benefits
  • Out-dated platform replaced with a powerful, future-proof cloud platform
  • Admin tasks were significantly reduced, freeing up staff to focus on what matters
  • Improved user experience for both users and content admins
  • Hybrid & remote working made possible for staff
  • Increased security, data, and threat protection
  • Organisation and staff are delighted with the new intranet