MyFamily gets information governance right with SharePoint online and Xylos.

Change Management, Digital Coaching, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams, SharePoint Online

In Flanders, MyFamily is one of the organizations that provides families with a child benefit package, the so-called “Groeipakket.” Such packages come with different types of allowances and rules. They are also subject to legal policy and therefore subject to evolution. To get things right, there is a lot of information MyFamily employees need to access, process, share and keep up with. This all starts with a waterproof information governance strategy.

Not seeing the wood for the trees in the cloud environment

In 2020, MyFamily, as part of Xerius, took an important step towards digital modernization. They migrated their on-premise data and document library to Microsoft 365. Information processing on Outlook, SharePoint Online and Teams intensified, even more so with online collaboration becoming a necessity during the COVID-19 crisis.

It became clear to MyFamily’s Quality Coordinator, Hilde Coddens and SharePoint Business Owner, Tars Boons – that to keep the information flow streamlined and collaboration efficient, MyFamily needed a modernized governance strategy.

“When we used to store data on-premise, people had a classic document library as a single source of truth. We started off replicating that structure on SharePoint Online. But the same information would soon also circulate via Outlook and Teams. That started to cause information overload, confusion and frustration.”

By 2022, Hilde and Tars absolutely realized some expert guidance for their information governance could improve things drastically. So, they called on Xylos to help straighten things out.

Inspiring MyFamily with Microsoft 365 potential

Eddy Feys, O365 Functional Expert at Xylos was the man of the hour to get things started. In a kick-off workshop with MyFamily, he revealed the array of governance approaches and possibilities with Microsoft 365, the do’s and don’ts, as well as opportunities and pitfalls.

After mapping MyFamily’s as-is architecture, and thanks to his experience, he was able to reveal rather quickly that people at MyFamily were exploiting only a very low percentage of the potential Microsoft 365 has to offer for them. Great news, because that meant: the opportunity to get much more out of the IT investment.

SharePoint Online: moving beyond an as-is migration

From inspiration to aspiration: understanding the end users

MyFamily was intrigued by the possibilities. So, Xylos set up a fundamental governance plan, along with a mechanism for further enhancement throughout the process. It was now crucial to identify and understand concrete pain points and information needs. Therefore, Eddy Feys exchanged with workers from different regional offices in Hasselt, Kortrijk and Antwerp.

Basically, MyFamily has two types of digital collaborators. On one hand there are those who author, publish and manage the information: legal experts and project managers. On the other, there are those who “consume” that information. These are the people that manage the dossiers of MyFamily customers. They often have very valuable input from their daily practice, to improve the documentation. However, uncoordinated efforts to provide input resulted in more and more document versions seeing the light of day, and it became unclear which should be considered as definite versions and which shouldn’t.

Tars Boons adds: “Another common problem was that one piece of information would often be relevant to diverse topics, and therefore a separate document would exist for each topic in our document library. Eddy made it clear that we could solve this entirely by using Microsoft 365 more properly.”

Setting up SharePoint and Teams as an integrated solution

A well-governed and user-friendly SharePoint site

“Essentially, the people at MyFamily needed a clear distinction between information or work in progress, versus 100% validated information. We needed to create a new single-source-of-truth, no matter from what angle anyone would access the information. And there’s no better tool than SharePoint Online to achieve that.” Eddy Feys from Xylos testifies.

So, Xylos architected an extensive SharePoint site with a tidy governance strategy. That would make search functionalities more effective and thus retrieving the right information easier than ever for users.

Once the right information architecture and policies in place, Tars and MyFamily could start building the actual SharePoint site. The minimal viable product or in other words “the first layers of the solution” are ready and in use, since July 2022. Thanks to the roadmap, MyFamily now continues to build effectively. In his role as Xylos’ governance expert, Eddy was also a valuable asset in communicating with the IT department of Xerius, who own the IT infrastructure MyFamily resides in.

“Xerius is a rather large group with many important priorities. Thanks to Eddy’s help we were able to really get the trust and autonomy we needed, to make things work.” says Tars Boons.

A human touch that makes the difference: digital coaching

On top of a roadmap, MyFamily could also count on Xylos renowned human approach. Digital Coach, Davey Van Rolleghem, dedicated two days per week for a period of time to guiding the SharePoint administrators at MyFamily step by step with building.

He also organized sessions with tips and tricks to anticipate on potential obstacles ahead. Hilde Coddens praises how well Xylos listened to and understood MyFamily’s needs:

“The main reason that I would recommend Xylos, is that they were able to strike the balance between having a thorough plan and really listening and tailoring a solution for us.”

An effective communication and collaboration structure

Where the new SharePoint site now, once and for all, featured the validated information and documents, Teams became the place-to-collaborate on documents under revision. Based on the learnings from the sessions with Xylos and based on the chosen governance plan, MyFamily’s SharePoint owner, Tars, is now also able to make Office 365 groups as effective as possible.

That means, for instance, he composes the groups with an optimal number of people to boost the collaboration on dossiers, and he assigns relevant roles to each. That way the right people provide input to work-in-progress versions of documents and monitor and safeguard where needed.

Quality coordinator, Hilde has noticed improvements from early on:

“The interaction between our document authors and consumers starts to look more and more like a symbiosis. Our information consumers are really motivated to contribute to improvements, because the input from their perspective is processed effectively. It renders our information and documents more relevant and complete.”

How MyFamily was able to sustain impactful change and even improve its culture

A new information architecture for an organization such as MyFamily is incredibly impactful, for every employee involved. It requires them to embrace change. Merely informing people of the change is not a sustainable approach.

That’s why Xylos’ Change Manager, Renaud Dejonghe developed a change and adoption plan, based on the ADKAR-approach, with a communication strategy, learning initiatives and a sponsorship program.

“Renaud made sure that we involved everyone from the beginning. I think that’s one of the reasons we were able to bolster a general desire for all users to make optimal use of the tools at hand. He also insisted we consider the project as a continuous work in progress. We didn’t lose sight of reinforcing the desire and the learning process. As a result, today we have a culture of involvement. Our information consumers know that they can actively and efficiently contribute to improving our documents. Nobody just waits around for the document owners to solve everything. ”

The result:

The MyFamily project was a successful coming-together of people, strategy and technology, a hallmark of the Xylos approach.

In summary, thanks to Xylos, MyFamily was able to address and solve their employees’ grievances and productivity obstacles.

The organization now has a functional SharePoint Online architecture, future-proofed by a solid governance strategy. There is an efficient SharePoint site everybody knows what to expect from, today and in the future as MyFamily builds further on it. And moreover, employees have truly been adopting a more effective way of working together. The digital workplace of the organization is one of employee involvement and will undoubtedly continue to do so.


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