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Digital Workplace for the UNHCR: an intranet „box solution“ integrated with Microsoft SharePoint Online


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Call for: Digital Workplace

UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), Geneve

Deadline May 3rd

Pre-selection criteria

Only companies being compliant with the below pre-selection criteria will be considered for the selection process. Pre-selection criteriaDocuments and information to be provided to establish compliance with the criteria
Proven experience: (1) in delivering Digital Workplace solutions in an M365 environment AND (2) The staff, who would be assigned to work on the project UTC maximum +/-5 working hours, to enable close working with the Central Europe-based UNHCR team.To ease the assessment, please list on your technical proposal’s first page. 1, the number of Digital Workplace projects delivered in organizations also running M365 platforms more than four (4) and of a similar size and geographic spread 2, the implementation team`s location, that will deliver this project You must meet both criteria.

Digital Workplace Project Vision (DWP)

Every organisation has a Digital Workplace (DW). It encompasses all the digital applications and content needed for colleagues to work effectively. However, in a mature digital workplace, content, digital applications, and new functionalities are used to transform the way people work – creating an intelligent, relevant, and targeted experience to achieve stronger collaboration, greater efficiency, and effective workforce engagement. The rapid advancement of artificial intelligence has opened new potential. For example in improved content navigation and search. In your response please highlight any AI features.

In UNHCR’s future digital workplace, a colleague will be able to collaborate and engage across the organisation with those who have shared skills and interests regardless of location. The system will recommend files based on interests. They will be automatically directed to the application, data dashboards, or business process that are relevant to their work. They will no longer waste valuable time searching, remembering links, or trawling through irrelevant search results. Regions and country offices will be empowered to create and customise their own local engagement hubs with relevant content, data, and features.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is currently undergoing a large-scale technological transformation through its Business Transformation Programme (BTP), with a focus on enhancing its large-scale business systems. However, it is also important to provide an accessible digital workplace for UNHCR’s workforce to collaborate and engage with each other across different divisions, regions, and operations. UNHCR’s internal engagement platform, also known as an intranet, serves as a one-stop-shop for all UNHCR-related matters, including communities of practice in Viva Engage and SharePoint.

Nevertheless, communities can be challenging to locate, as no single platform offers an overall architecture to bring them together. A new Digital Workplace would deliver intranet and communities to an individual based on their job profile and registered interests, enabling them to access organizational content, connect and engage more effectively with relevant communities within the organization.

For UNHCR’s Digital Workplace (DW) to be effective it needs to be easily navigated. Disconnected multiple points of entry can make it hard for people to know where to find the content they need in the different internal engagement platforms. Colleagues have multiple ways of finding and accessing what they need – which can be unnecessarily time consuming. Having a global “public square” where all colleagues know to go to be signposted to the digital resources, work areas, interest, and functions, they need to carry out their jobs effectively, but also keep abreast of organizational events, communications, crises and more.

To achieve this will require a transformation of UNHCR’s Intranet changing it from one-directional content publishing to an engaging platform that is relevant and fosters high internal engagement.

Statement of Purpose

UNHCR is seeking an intranet in a box solution that tightly integrates with Microsoft SharePoint Online that will bring to the end-user this ‘Public-Square’ experience from where they will find personalized content, summary of important items such as tasks, calendar, ability to search for content across the organization, and quick access to the various digital solutions available for use in UNHCR. Following a gap analysis of our current M365 / SharePoint Online platforms we have identified some areas where we believe additional functionality may be needed to create the desired experience. However, we still expect SharePoint will be the bedrock of all the new Digital Workplace and your response must show how your solution complements M365 technology and not duplicate it.


Digital Transformation is a crucial aspect of any organization’s strategy, and one significant component of this is the implementation of a Digital Workplace. The global pandemic has made it clear that robust digital communication and collaboration tools are essential for business continuity. The primary objectives are to create an intelligent, relevant, and targeted employee experience to achieve stronger internal communications, collaboration, greater efficiency, and effective workforce engagement.

Current status

Currently UNHCR (the UN (United Nations) Refugee Agency) has an intranet that has met the requirements and needs of users for many years. However, the emergence of new needs, access to new platforms, technologies and devices makes it essential to create an improved version: the new digital workplace. The use of the Office 365 suite, which most users are familiar with, enhanced with products specifically oriented to the development of digital workplaces, makes it one of the most widely used options for the creation of digital workplaces.

One of the main objectives of the DW Project is to build an experience that helps the colleagues to access all corporate information that they already have in the current intranet, but also to connect some communities that are in MS Teams.

Although the use of SharePoint Online and Teams is proposed for the core foundation of the new Digital Workplace. After a detailed review of UNHCR’s needs and considering the advantages and disadvantages of each platform, it has been concluded that additional functionality will be needed to create the desired user experience.

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