Shelley Spector | shelley@spectorpr.com | (212) 943-5858

Synopsis: After defense and technology company Harris joined forces with Exelis, it sought to harmonize and streamline the plentiful internal communication channels it had accumulated over the years, which lacked central oversight and were limited to their respective segment. Spector solved this by developing a unified, company-wide news platform for its employees that would encourage cross-unit communication and tell the story of the new Harris. We called it Harris Edge.

During its nearly 125-year history, Harris has evolved from a small, Ohio-based company developing and selling printing equipment, to a multi-billion-dollar defense and technology provider with over 17,000 employees worldwide. While the company has grown organically over the decades, the Exelis acquisition almost doubled Harris’ workforce. As with any acquisition, integration and employee communication were vital during this time.

 

The problem: Harris’ and Exelis’ business units and functions had accumulated a plethora of communication channels, which were often limited to their respective units and therefore complicated integration efforts. From irregular email newsletters, print publications, online platforms, to townhall meetings, the newly-formed company was missing a central, segment-overarching employee communication strategy that would not only ensure the integration phase would be completed smoothly, but enable free movement of ideas and foster collaboration between engineers of different units: Harris Edge.

 

Spector completed the ambitious project in multiple stages:

  1. Situation Analysis: We interviewed the communication leads of every business unit and function within Harris and legacy Exelis, identifying unique needs, best-practices and weak points.

  2. Evaluation: We learned that employees are siloed within their respective business unit (BU) or function, severely limiting collaboration across BUs and geographic locations (Harris and Exelis operated from numerous sites across the U.S. and internationally), and company identification.

  3. Planning: In accord with segment leaders and our research, we recommended one unified, segment-overarching news platform that would be home to all new BUs and functions of the restructured company.

  4. Platform Selection: We evaluated multiple proprietary and open-source content management systems, among them Drupal, Joomla, and SharePoint, and advised Harris to use Joomla due to its user-friendliness, number of available templates, add-ons to customize its functionality, and the absence of licensing fees.

  5. Execution: We developed a fully functional, Joomla-based online news platform –Harris Edge– to demonstrate the feasibility of our proposed solution.

 

Ultimately, Spector’s solution was able to convince communication and department managers that one, shared news platform used by employees company-wide, in contrast to segmented solutions, is the right approach, accelerating the integration process, fostering company identification, and enabling the cross-pollination of ideas.

Harris Edge 

Rethinking employee communications