Intranet Launch - Government Property Agency

23 May 2018

Over the past two months, we’ve been working with the Cabinet Office to prepare for the launch of the Government Property Agency, officially launching as a new standalone Agency. The Government Property Agency (GPA) was launched as an Executive Agency of the Cabinet Office on the 1st April and, as part of this, Big Blue Door is delighted to have designed and built the new Intranet which will be used by all GPA staff.

The GPA has been launched with the aim of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the Government Estate and to generate benefits of between £1.4bn and £2.4bn over the next ten years. Having a robust Intranet platform that allows the central communications team to share secure documents about how the Agency will operate was part of the approved business plan, and the Cabinet Office procured Big Blue Door via the GCloud in an open tender to deliver the new Intranet in a short, eight-week timeframe.

With this timeframe, and the official launch scheduled for the 1st April, we delivered the Intranet using the GovIntranet WordPress theme. This platform has been developed over the last few years and is a flexible Intranet solution aimed at government departments; you can read more about the benefits and why the likes of Tom Loosemore and Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) have been proponents of the platform. Put simply though - the installation has a significant amount of great functionality available as standard and reuses design patterns established by GOV.UK. Fully responsive, and using open standards by default, this approach has meant that we were able to deliver the new GPA Intranet in just eight weeks. Yes, eight weeks to complete user requirements, IA, design, build and content upload. That’s the sort of project which, without the GovIntranet WordPress theme, would have taken six months minimum in the past. We ended up using four weeks for the actual build phase, split across two fortnightly agile sprints and the rest of the time for the initial requirements gathering, design, content phase and hosting setup.

This agile iterative approach allowed us to ensure a successful launch on the 1st of April, in-line with the official launch of the Government Property Agency itself to the outside world. Staff were welcomed to their new agency with a vibrant, new Intranet; allowing them to follow news about the agency, find out about forthcoming events, engage with various guides around ways of working and discuss policy areas. All of this was via a single sign on solution, meaning no complex password or user login details to remember. Working with GPA IT colleagues we have been able to ensure that the Intranet is a default site for all staff when they log in each day.

There have been some interesting technical challenges, of course. We’ve worked closely with Cabinet Office infrastructure colleagues to build the hosting setup which, in this case, is built and managed on Microsoft’s Azure platform. A number of Big Blue Door staff have been security vetted to SC clearance level due to the secure nature of the content and, using Jenkins, we have established a remote deployment technique to ensure that all deployments to the production site are automated and have backups and rollbacks in place by default.

Working with the Cabinet Office team and the GPA’s Communications lead, David Stanley, has been a great experience and we’re very much looking forward to providing ongoing support, maintenance and development in the future as part of this ongoing project.

If you are considering, or looking for, a creative Intranet project, please don’t hesitate to contact us; the GovIntranet WordPress theme may well be just the solution for you.