An Inside Job

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Stepping out of a shared-drive mess into the Intranet world last January was quick and easy, according to Bryan Thomas, special projects coordinator at Norlarco CU.

"We spent just three months to get our fully-functioning Intranet up and running," Thomas said.

To build "Nornet," NCU used IntraSmart, Intranet building software provided by Philadelphia-based Mindbridge Software, Inc. In fact, a "strong, working foundation" for the system was set in just three days with Mindbridge's help, he said.

Norlarco serves 42,000 members in Northern Larimer County ornet is now the central information hub across the CU's eight locations, replacing about six disparate tools the CU's 140 employees previously used to share information, said Thomas.

For example, the $250-million CU used Microsoft Outlook to dispense information through e-mails, which could easily be forgotten and deleted, he said.

And before Nornet, "everything was on a shared drive, which was just not appropriate," Thomas said. "It was easy for employees to change documents themselves, or click and drag an actual folder onto their desktops without realizing that they should have used a shortcut instead. Plus, it was tough to keep the drive updated, and to ensure consistency on everything, such as forms.

"The shared-drive was a free-for-all, and we needed to limit access," he said.

Norlarco "implemented a gatekeeper scenario" to maintain control within Nornet. The CU allows four employees, including specialists from IT, marketing and graphics, training, and Thomas himself to review other employees' requests for changes, before making weekly or daily updates to the Intranet.

Alternatively, access can be set for each employee. For example, the boardroom reservations calendar can only be updated by the administrative assistant, even though every employee can view it.

An Intranet committee, comprising members from the teller level to the executive management level, carefully designed the tool, Thomas said. "We set out to create a product that encompasses all the employees veryone had a say."

Once the web-based system was running, employees quickly took to it, Thomas said.

"We felt comfortable because the Intranet can be navigated like a web page. We gave a 45-minute orientation to each branch and they were ready to go."

NCU didn't have to compromise on features, even though it wanted the system up fast. "We contemplated two scenarios -we could have put up a skeleton," Thomas explained. "But because of ease of product, we decided to go ahead and put up everything we had."

The most frequently-used Nornet site is the products and services page, where employees not only get a description of every product, but links to applicable websites, said Thomas. "You can click on the Co-op ATM Network to see what the company does and get links to their site."

Each department has a home page on Nornet. "That way, each department can also have control over what information is being fed out," said Thomas.

A document library holds links to forms and procedures, while the Norlarco News section contains CU ads, an employee bulletin board and classifieds. Conference room reservations can be viewed on the Group Scheduler-Calendar. The Employee Directory contains a picture and bio of each employee, as well as the employee's duties and contact info. Thomas said Intrasmart offered "the perfect balance between standard features and what you get that allows you to customize."

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