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An education in collaboration
CLOUD

An education in collaboration 

Since 2001, the college had been relying on an employee portal system that had previously worked quite well, but had fallen out of favour with the staff in recent years. The results of a survey of Algonquin College’s employees showed that the now-antiquated portal needed to be replaced as soon as possible.

“When I joined (the college), one of the first things I did was have a meeting with my boss, Doug Wotherspoon, and he said that we needed a new employee portal,” said Phil Gaudreau, communications officer for Algonquin’s Public Relations and Communications Department.

For 14 years, the school had relied upon a customized internal system known as MyAlgonquin that was created and managed by Algonquin’s IT department. At the time, it was state-of-the-art, and able to connect Algonquin staff. But after years of dedicated service, cracks were forming in the foundation.

The system that facilitated so many connections was nearing the end of its useful life, and was due for a replacement. Although it made sense to find a new system on paper, replacing it proved to be quite challenging.

“My predecessor had tried to replace it twice, but was unsuccessful on both counts,” Gaudreau recalled. “He left during one of the efforts to replace it, and so I had to pick up the pieces before eventually deciding it wasn’t going to work.”

This led to the employee engagement survey, in which the college’s staff made their message clear – they wanted a better, more up-to-date employee portal that would go beyond the limitations of the older one and effectively resolve the problems that the previous portal had caused in recent years.

“Out of that survey, employees told us that they needed to have a new, updated single virtual portal for information,” said Gaudreau.

“What had happened was the college’s website had transitioned to WordPress, which is very easy to use, update and maintain. People were not necessarily building their portals, but they were relying on other sources for information,” Gaudreau added.

Eventually, the decision was made to adopt Salesforce’s Community Cloud to replace the MyAlgonquin portal. Algonquin had already been using Salesforce’s CRM software to manage customer data, and the Service Cloud for its IT department, which had been implemented under Wotherspoon. Both had been well received by the staff.

Several providers then entered into a bidding process to determine which product would replace MyAlgonquin. Given the school’s prior experiences with the other Salesforce products, the decision was eventually made to replace it with Salesforce’s Community Cloud platform.

“We realized that we wanted something that was going to plug into everything else we were doing with Salesforce as a CRM, a service desk, and so on,” said Gaudreau. “It had to be a hub, not just for news and information, which is what the previous portal was for, and not just for collaboration.”

The decision was eventually made to adopt Community Cloud because it is “a great information sharing resource, and it’s a very adaptable platform,” Gaudreau said.

“We see this as being a one-stop shop for employees where they can ask questions, book their holidays and check their pay statements, in addition to finding out about news and events,” he continued. “The adaptability of the platform makes it an ideal hub for employees.”

One of the key benefits that Algonquin College reaped from Community Cloud was easier navigation. Finding the right information was often difficult under the in-house system the school had previously used.

“It’s helping employees navigate the organization more effectively,” said Gaudreau. “For our ambassadors, it’s all about peeling back the layers of the onion. They understand how the college works, how to navigate it, and how to be effective within it.”

Community Cloud has also helped to promote collaboration amongst Algonquin’s faculty and students. Technology has enabled the classroom to expand beyond the four walls and become an interactive, collaborative experience where all are encouraged to share their knowledge and ideas. Additionally, it has been instrumental in breaking down the barriers associated with idea sharing.

“Our mission at the college is to transform hopes and dreams into skills and knowledge into lifelong career success,” said Gaudreau.

“The employee engagement surveys showed us that our staff really resonates with that mission, and I think this gives us a space and a way to better share information across the college and break down some of the silos that are developed within these types of organizations.”

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