Skip to content

HVZ Waasland gives a Voice to all its Firefighters

HVZ Waasland wanted to boost the communication among employees by building a one-stop platform that simplifies and centralises access to HVZ Waasland news, procedures, colleagues, applications, ..... the ultimate goal was to increase engagement and have two-way communication instead of push communication. Today HVZ’s users post 6x more content per month compared to last year when HVZ Waaslandwas still using Sharepoint.

In Short

  • HVZ Waasland wanted to boost the communication among employees by building a one-stop platform that simplifies and centralises access to HVZ news, procedures, colleagues, applications, ….. the ultimate goal was to increase engagement and have two-way communication instead of push communication.
  • Increased internal communications & employee engagement in one central hub. Today HVZ’s users post 6x more content per month compared to last year when HVZ Waasland was still using Sharepoint.
  • The newsfeed enables employees to publish timely, relevant, and targeted news.
Jolien Van Damme

What I liked most about working with Devoteam G Cloud is the people-centred approach. We are an organisation that likes to move forward and when you work with an external partner who also has the same working method and has set up such a great solution in such a short time, you can only be very happy.

About Hulpverleningszone Waasland

Hulpverleningszone Waasland, HVZ Waasland, is the umbrella organisation of the 9 fire and ambulance stations of 7 municipalities in Belgium.

These stations have more than 550 employees and are committed every day to protect more than 219,000 inhabitants and the Waasland port in the Waasland region. The corps consists of professional and volunteer personnel. Only 10% of these employees have a sole administrative role within the organisation.

These fire and ambulance crews are responsible for putting out fires and rescuing those in danger. Their duties go beyond that. They provide assistance with flooding (e.g., floods or flooded basements) or storm damage, remove wasp nests, prevent houses from collapsing, provide logistical support for accidents, provide technical support (e.g., to cover a chimney or remove an antenna), and much more. 

The Problem

Before using LumApps, HVZ Waasland relied primarily on SharePoint as an intranet. But this solution didn’t meet the expectations of their users.

“It’s an old and complex system to communicate with all our teammates. SharePoint is purely push communication, there is only one-way communication, and information is static. It totally fails to match the expectations of the 21st-century expectations of our employees and our communications department.”
Jolien Van Damme, Communication Manager at Hulpverleningszone Waasland

HVZ Waasland had no central source of truth for information and knowledge-sharing. Only the internal communications department & some editors had permissions to post news. HVZ Waasland already worked with editors but they got discouraged because our previous platform was not at all user-friendly for them. This resulted in limited contribution and participation from the employees. Information was hard to find because most  documents were scattered over different OneDrives and Sharepoints. It was very time-consuming and inefficient to look for specific information. 

Our biggest challenge was regarding decentralised working, as more than 370 employees are volunteers. They have the same tasks and responsibilities as  other employees and also need the same access to information and training. It is important that we can reach all these people and that we centralise all information.”
Jolien Van Damme, Communication Manager at Hulpverleningszone Waasland

They wanted a way to connect all teammates regardless of the location they’re working, to ensure they receive the latest important information and are equipped with the resources they need.

Next to that, there was no way of monitoring and tracking statistics which made it complicated to define actions in order to boost user adoption of the tool. There was no “Who is Who” functionality to search for specific information about colleagues such as role, manager, skills, interests, personal data (phone number, first name, last name,…) & specialties. 

The Goal

HVZ Waasland needed to upgrade to a platform that was more robust, able to handle both bottom-up and top-down communications, and integrated with their applications & Microsoft’s collaboration suite, Office 365. The biggest challenge was to break down  silos. 

HVZ Waasland had several requirements for a new intranet solution:

  • Mobile App: with a mobile-first strategy in mind, the goal was to assist employees that are working on the go in their daily tasks through the support of technology.
  • One-stop-shop: HVZ wanted to boost communication among employees by building a one-stop platform that simplifies and centralises access to HVZ news, procedures, colleagues, applications, ….. The ultimate goal was to increase engagement.

“A social intranet is no longer a luxury.”
– Jolien Van Damme, Communication Manager at Hulpverleningszone Waasland

  • Easy-to-use platform: a solution that employees can access any time, from anywhere, and any device. The aim was to create a digital workplace that was collaborative, seamless, personalised, and inclusive.

“Our 550 people are not in the same fire stations at the same time. Our objective is to bring our 550 employees together but in a digital way! ” 
– Jolien Van Damme, Communication Manager at Hulpverleningszone Waasland

Therefore, HVZ Waasland began to search for a platform that was simple, collaborative, and easy to use.

The Solution

LumApps was selected as the company’s intranet provider for its unique ability to transform HVZ Waasland means of communicating, collaborating, knowledge-sharing, and fostering employee engagement from the office to the field. HVZ Waasland and Devoteam G Cloud have worked together from the beginning to build HVZ’s digital workplace. This new platform connects the 550 employees and seamlessly integrates with Microsoft tools.

It has some core features that were important for HVZ Waasland:

Centralised: HVZ Waasland uses a lot of different applications but now they can find all their applications and information in one place. This is all traceable through the LumApps search functionality.

100% autonomous: the intranet is managed by the communication teams so an easy and flexible tool with no coding skills required, was important.

Personalised Content: LumApps enables HVZ Waasland to personalise its communications for each type of employee. With the different roles within the company, targeted content is key. Employees have access to relevant and personalised according to their unique profile and location. They can now personalise content (regional news and local news) to the local posts.

Identity & access management: the ability to easily create roles and define specific access to content played an important part in their selection process.

Jolien Van Damme

Our employees really hated the previous solution we used. There was an intolerance towards Sharepoint. They were happy that something new was coming. We gave systematic updates on the project and we also involved them in the project by asking for input.

The Methodology

This project has been divided into 6 phases:

1. Run the Project: we identified the full project scope together with HVZ Waasland. To be on the same wavelength, together we determined clear deadlines, the approach & governance of the project.

2. Crystallise Requirements: together with HVZ Waasland we defined the vision and prioritised some specific use cases. We prepared a clear roadmap of the project (features, graphic design, and architecture) and discussed the mobile approach for the customer. 

“Setting up use cases and talking to the users was really indispensable in this project. Together with Devoteam G Cloud translated these discussions into the look & feel and content of the intranet.”
– Jolien Van Damme, Communication Manager at Hulpverleningszone Waasland

3. Configure LumApps: in this part of the project, we configured LumApps and created the visual identity of the platform (we also created branded templates for the editors). Next to that, we configured workflows and created groups, roles, permissions, and the user directory.

4. Train the Staff: we trained the Admins of the platform, the designers, and content editors.  There was one training per specific role (content editors, news redactors, post redactors, community managers, and admins). They needed to be able to create the content before the go-live of the LumApps platform. 

5. Support the Change: once a week we organised support calls. We helped them in preparing the change by providing answers to several questions, for example: “How are we going to promote the intranet to the different stakeholders?” In this last phase, we made some adjustments before the go-live that was planned for the first of January.

6. Go-Live: we launched the LumApps Platform that is now contributing to a more efficient and better-connected workforce.

The Result

The biggest result is that HVZ Waasland broke down the silos with a unified communication platform that is fully integrated with Microsoft 0365. 

“The biggest game-changer was two-way communication. We now receive direct feedback on initiatives or new guidelines. Before, we only got negative reactions from our people. Now we also get a bunch of positive reactions. People celebrate the achievements of their peers, give direct recognition, and congratulate each other on successful projects. This encourages engagement. “
– Jolien Van Damme, Communication Manager at Hulpverleningszone Waasland

Frontline employees are no longer disconnected from the office. Employees can quickly contribute content by using their mobile or their desktop and find the information needed to get work done.

The mobile app also makes a huge difference! Our people can now just go to the app and scroll through the regional news and local news.
– Jolien Van Damme, Communication Manager at Hulpverleningszone Waasland

Today, HVZ Waasland uses Microsoft as an identity provider with Single Sign-On enabled. Users only need to log in once to access multiple applications.  

“Every employee has an Office365 package. LumApps has ensured that it’s now much clearer for us where to put what type of content within Office365. On the one hand, we have found more structure as a company in our Office365 story, and on the other hand, our employees find their way to documents or videos. 

The percentage of consultations of the content has gone up super fast. Before the implementation of LumApps, 70% of the employees consulted the content once a month. This rose by 10%. The engagement rate is also clearly visible today (you can see who responded to which posts), whereas before there were no statistics and the contribution of the users was non-existent.

“The weekly created content has skyrocketed. Today we have more than 35 new posts per month of which 5 are from the communication department, whereas before we had  35 new posts in 6 months of which 30 were written by the communication department. 
– Jolien Van Damme, Communication Manager at Hulpverleningszone Waasland

Jolien Van Damme

Devoteam G Cloud has given us a lot of insights into the possibilities of the platform.They translated our organisational needs into technical implementations on the platform. They gave us more insights into how we could integrate Office 365 into the platform. And in terms of project management they did an amazing job. They really made it happen!” We are definitely happy customers.




Do you want to discuss your own internal communications project with us? 

Get in touch with

Inês Valadas

Supporting companies with their employee experience journey ? | engagement & retention strategy ?