Thursday, January 15, 2009

Photos in the Intranet phonebook.

My company is spread over 4 states of Australia and many of us travel regularly to the different sites. A common problem we all face is that we can deal with so many people across the organisation via phone and email without ever meeting them face to face. I have personally experienced the embarrassment of visiting a different site for a meeting with someone I have dealt with for some time and walking past that person many times prior to the meeting without realising that they were who I was there to see. Putting photos in our corporate phonebook will allow us to see what our colleagues look like prior to meeting them. It also adds a personal feel to everyone so that we can picture their face when phoning or emailing.

My biggest challenge in this organisation of over 11,500 employees is "how do we start?". Technically it is easy to allow an image to be linked to individuals profiles but obtaining the image is the challenge.

So far I am toying with a few options however each has its pros and cons.

  1. Use the security photos that we each have on our passes.
    Everyone in the organisation has a security photo taken when the commence employment with us however many of these images were taken years ago, they are often very poor quality images and usually very unflattering.
  2. Start with a single generic image for each person and allow them to upload the image of their choice.
    People will usually be happy with the image they have uploaded themselves however there is no physical way to ensure that the image is current, appropriate (not lewd) or an actual photo of themselves (not their pet, their child or a cartoon etc).
    This option could be backed up by corporate guidelines and policy however might require a task of manually checking each image uploaded and even then it is difficult to confirm that an image is of an individual you have never met.
  3. Submission of individual images to a central location so they can be checked and then uploaded by an administrator.
    This option would require a lot of manual effort for someone and also require broad and prolonged promotion to ensure every employee provides a suitable image. There is also the problem that some people still do not have digital cameras or digital images of themselves

There are many other possible options including combinations of the ones mentioned above. My largest hurdle is initial implementation and image population. Moving forward I would include a step in the induction process of all new employees where a quality image is taken and then the HR representative could upload the image as part of the normal commencement process. I estimate that we could initially count on most of our 2500 nine to five office employees to load their images without too much hassle. The additional challenge would be for the other 9,000 employees who are hospitality workers on rotating 24hr shifts and only kiosk access to the Intranet.

Spelling out my options and many of the problems above makes me realise that this task is going to be a lot more difficult than I initially assumed.

Wish me luck!

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