Building A Global Intranet

Oxfam is a world-wide development organisation that mobilises the power of people against poverty. Oxfam is a confederation of 17 organisations working together in more than 90 countries.
Oxfam International’s new global Intranet is the only system that connects all of its 17 affiliate organisations, integrating more than 8,900 field workers and enabling them to collaborate and communicate more effectively in three main areas:
  • Working groups — field workers can choose to join any of more than 700 groups to share information about established areas of business,but also create their own groups to discuss other topics, such as new developments in mobile technology.
  • Governance groups — these allow global team members to share policies, governance and other materials to better coordinate and develop shared projects and maintain a common strategy across the whole organisation.
  • News and information — the Intranet provides a hub for sharing information and assets, from new developments in the Confederation to the new company logo and branding tools needed when Oxfam rolled out a new brand identity.

Business Challenge

In light of this mission, the ability for its 12,000 employees to share information and learn from each other plays an important role in the organisation’s ability to efficiently deliver positive outcomes.

In 2010, Oxfam International identified a major opportunity to dramatically improve communications and knowledge sharing across its confederation by creating a single global intranet, but by 2012 it became clear how it needed to be improved. At the time, the affiliates used a number of systems to communicate and share information but there was considerable room for improvement. Many field workers in remote locations with low bandwidth found it difficult or impossible to access the systems.

 This was about more than simply controlling software license fees, but ensuring that the costs of integrating and adapting the chosen platform to our diverse IT architecture would stay within budget as we scaled. The system also needed to be easy enough for our field workers around the world to learn on their own even with minimal training.
Gabriele Sani | Intranet Manager | Oxfam International

After looking at more than 20 alternatives, Oxfam International turned to open source systems integrator Zaizi to lead the development of a browser-based communications and collaboration application that integrated Alfresco’s CMS and Drupal’s web platform and ran on its Linux CentOS 6 operating system.


Zaizi’s integration strategy was to deploy Alfresco to mirror Drupal’s structure. There is an Alfresco folder to mirror the content in each of the 700 groups including an HTML files that capture online content such as discussions, calendars and news. Besides being extremely intuitive, this avoids them having to go through a web browser or download large plug-ins, and it minimises the bandwidth requirements. All the application data is hosted in the Cloud.

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