‘The Landing’ intranet launches as Salvation Army employees work remotely 

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The site is meant to be a central hub of information for territorial workforce

By Vivian Lopez – 

As COVID-19 swept through the nation, The Salvation Army Western Territory transitioned much of its workforce to remote work. In response, the Information Technology Department worked quickly to develop a territorial intranet to keep employees informed and connected to one another. The end result was The Landing, which launched in late March.

 “It’s there to add value to the experience of the employee,” said Karl Larsson, IT Director of Software Development, who spearheaded the project. “We want it to be a useful tool they can use in their job, so they can find the information they want quickly and efficiently.”

“It’s about having a place where people can feel—if not connected in person anymore—connected with information and messaging,” added David Brown, IT Director of Applications.

The Landing—a Microsoft SharePoint-based website—is now live at thelanding.usawest.org, and available to all territorial employees with a computer account. It is also accessible via smartphone via the Microsoft SharePoint mobile app.

Features include a comprehensive “People” page (which works as a searchable personnel directory), an “Applications” library with bookmark capabilities, and a collection of Salvation Army internal and external news and resources—tailored to each division. 

The idea for it, however, has been over a year in the making—stemming from the THQ Communications Summit in September 2018.

“We made recommendations to management and the territorial commander on better ways to communicate. We’ve traditionally relied on emails…they tend to get deleted, they’re hard to find, and they can be a bit overwhelming sometimes,” Larsson said. “One of the ideas was for an intranet where we could centralize communications.”

Since then, a mock-up design of the intranet has been in the works. When the pandemic hit, IT went into production mode to develop it into a live site.

“Once the coronavirus happened and people were suddenly working at home, there was a bit of an urgency to develop something for internal communications,” Larsson said. “So we just jumped on it and built it ourselves as quickly as we could.”

At the core of the project was a compilation of information, in line with its communication focus. Cory Gaudaur, New Frontier Publications Digital Content Director, created content streams of news articles and lifestyle pieces from territorial publications, New Frontier Chronicle and Caring, as well as Share Change videos.

“I hope sharing New Frontier Publications content will bring employees across the Western Territory together and remind us that the work of The Salvation Army is important,” Gaudaur said. “During a crisis, it’s easy to forget the good things, and I hope being exposed to inspiring stories of our work will be a reminder of how lucky we are to be part of this organization.”

She also worked with other departments to gather COVID-19-related updates and articles for a minisite, ranging from home office tips and advice on how to worship from home to mental health resources. Also included are health and bereavement notices, and employment opportunities.

“This project was the result of several departments coming together to work toward a shared goal—to equip and support employees during this confusing time of transition and beyond,” Gaudaur said.

All internal text and video messages from the territorial commander are available as well.

“This is great in moving toward the realization that internal communications to employees and officers can be just as important as what we’re doing out in the public,” Brown said. 

Progress made on The Landing is only the beginning of the project.

There are plans to add team sites within the intranet that will function as interdepartmental collaborative spaces. Larsson said they’re also working on creating interactive graphics of Salvation Army data for employee use.

We’re trying to add a new feature each week to keep people excited,” Larsson said. “There’s a lot we want to do moving forward.”

Brown agreed there’s much to come in its build out.

“Making it the key hub to share and collaborate is the vision we have for it,” Brown said.

User comments and suggestions are encouraged and can be submitted using the “Send Suggestions and Feedback” link on The Landing front page.  

International Headquarters has shown interest in the project, as it looks to create something similar.

“It is a tool that we hope becomes increasingly used over the coming years as we expand it,” Larsson said. “We want to emphasize that corporate branding and make employees feel part of the wider community of The Salvation Army.”

 

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