Children's Hospital Foundation

A premier provider of children's care in Washington, DC
uses Igloo to power an information portal and hub for

An interview with Kenneth Fonzi, Associate Director of Online Information Systems Children’s Hospital Foundation

Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about Children’s Hospital Foundation.

I am the Associate Director of Online Information Systems at Children’s Hospital Foundation, the fundraising arm for Children’s National Medical Center. For over 140 years, we’ve served the nation’s children as a premier provider of pediatric care in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. We are also known as a proven leader in the development and application of innovative new treatments for childhood illness and injury. The foundation partners with individual donors, corporations, and community organizations to help the doctors, nurses, and clinicians at Children’s National fulfill their vision to transform children’s health, across the country, and around the world.

How many people are impacted by your organization annually?

Our healthcare professionals care for more than 360,000 patients each year who come from throughout the region, nation and around the world. In addition, Children’s National Medical Center serves as the regional referral center for pediatric emergency, trauma, cancer, cardiac and critical care as well as neonatology, orthopaedic surgery, neurology, and neurosurgery.

With so many stakeholders and a very distributed operation, how did Children’s Hospital Foundation collaborate before?

Well, in short, we didn’t.  We relied heavily on e-mail, meetings, and pen and paper. Our goal is to double our philanthropy from $45 to $90 Million in the next five years, and we needed a set of tools that would allow us to do what we do, only better. The foundation leadership also recognized that we needed to utilize new technology to become more collaborative and productive.

Since the foundation is a division of Children’s National Medical Center (CNMC), we had the opportunity to use CNMC’s intranet (which was based on the Microsoft SharePoint platform). However, we quickly realized that the organizational standard did not meet our requirements. Our users clamored for the ability to make quick changes to the experience as a whole. With that in mind, leadership encouraged us to find the best solution for the foundation (even if that meant going off on our own). That is quite the task.

Where did you start?

As you can imagine, I was overwhelmed-and running far and fast was not an option [laughs].  While strong-arming our own SharePoint site was still a possibility, I really wanted to find an alternative that better fit our vision.

“We would never have the devoted, specialized team that a SharePoint installation requires, nor would we get buy-in from staff with such a complicated tool.”

You’re not the first person to tell us that. What challenges did you face?

Well, SharePoint has the ability to do just about everything, but it is such a giant. An intranet should be something that is easy to configure and easy to use, by everyone.  We would never have the devoted, specialized team that a SharePoint installation requires, nor would we get buy-in from staff with such a complicated tool. I wanted to see what was out there, so I started to research other intranet vendors.

Can you elaborate on your hunt for the right Intranet?

I started it all with a simple Google search of “intranets.” I evaluated Igloo as well as other platforms, including Yammer, Box, and Noodle. One of the key requirements was that the intranet needed to have a strong brand identity, in look, feel and functionality. As I continued to evaluate each solution, I felt Yammer, Box and Noodle were “templated” too much, whereas Igloo had the most malleable layout. Plus, Igloo also had the added flexibility to customize the interface with CSS, HTML and JavaScript.

I also had to consider management’s vision for our intranet. They wanted the intranet to not just be a place to store files, but to facilitate collaboration, foster innovation, and breakdown silos. Another critical factor for us was ease of use, including the capacity for single sign-on. Igloo was the only vendor that satisfied these criteria.

How has your organization changed since adopting Igloo?

We use numerous applications for working and reporting, including Wufoo’s online form builder, Logi Analytics as a dashboard client, Google Apps, Google Analytics, TeamGantt and MerlinOne. So, we weren’t looking for another platform, we were seeking something that could tie all these disparate tools together in one place. Igloo integrated all of these applications through Okta and a single sign-on environment which was awesome. We now have an information portal where employees can access all of these different applications. I can now do what I need to do, no matter where I am, which is incredibly useful. I loved Igloo’s flexibility to integrate with these online tools – essentially Igloo serves as a hub for collaboration.

Igloo’s social analytics also allow me to have visibility into trends that occur within our intranet. For example, I can investigate activity and see that 80% of our members have logged into the community in the last 30 days and drill-down to see how they’re contributing to the team. Or, I can investigate something like content popularity to see what resources are most valued. Since launching the community, it has been tools, services, employees, photos and the conference room calendar (all generating over 1000 views).

Aside from accessing different tools in a centralized location, we also wanted the opportunity to re-build and access information in a new way. Instead of relying on a shared drive to find an employee staff list, or a list of procedures, we can aggregate all of this information in one spot with wikis.

For some types of information, we use Igloo’s native document-sharing capabilities, but where appropriate, we also embed Google documents when sharing outside of our Igloo (or when we require real-time collaboration). Similarly, we have used wikis to create a place for not only approved policies and procedures, but also a true knowledge base (including a glossary of fundraising and industry specific terms). The return may be slow, but I firmly believe the payoff will be huge.

Finally, we’ve started to use spaces or sub-communities within our intranet. This enables people to come together around smaller project teams or fundraising initiatives to manage activities on a more micro-level. It’s also helped us with adoption. Let’s face it – you can only do one thing at a time. We are moving our staff into the cloud and into our intranet, but there are still some people who wish to work in silos. The compromise was to use spaces, so that they can work the way they are comfortable, while simultaneously winning them over to the much more collaborative and productive cloud.

Adoption of social technologies is cited as a challenge for some organizations because, often times, it involves a cultural or behavioral change. How did you approach the rollout of Igloo?

When we first implemented Igloo in fall 2012, we were rapidly expanding. We started with 80 employees a few years ago and, if you fast forward to today, 127 employees, interns & consultants can now communicate and collaborate in an information portal where they can access different applications. Many of our new hires were millennials (defined by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as people born from 1981 to 1999), so they were very technology savvy and were used to social technologies. It was definitely an advantage on our end, since it took less time for new employees to get up to speed.

Adoption of anything new is never easy, so that is fantastic to hear about your success.  For any corporate communications professionals or IT managers out there who are about to deploy a new intranet, can you provide any tips?I think it is important to define the “what’s in it for me?” for each user. You need to find and articulate the practical business reasons for using the new platform – workers won’t use it just to be social. Even more importantly, identify the potential naysayers and early adopters early in the process. In many cases, leaders react to criticism and negativity more readily than any early signs of momentum. That’s why it’s so important to recognize those that support the change effort. Once you identify and reward the champions, everything is great.

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