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Award-winning Site Connects Saïd Business School Community

MySBS is the intranet site of Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. It provides faculty-facing services, such as internal news, announcements, reminders and messaging. It’s also a self-organizing collaboration platform. Pronovix won first prize Acquia's inaugural Partner Site of the Year Award Program for its work on MySBS in the Higher Education and Internal Community site categories. Kornél Lugosi and Diana Lakatos of Pronovix contributed to this post.

At the end of 2012, I started hearing rumors about the need to build an intranet for the Saïd Business School in Oxford. Before I could internalize the thought of working on a project for one of the most prestigious universities in Europe, I was already sitting at the end of a long table in the beautiful city of Prague, surrounded by excellent engineers and project managers from both Acquia and Pronovix.

After 3 days of hardcore planning (and countless Czech beers), we came home with much excitement and a solid plan.

The goal of the project was to replace the existing intranet (iSBS) of the Saïd Business School and to (MySBS).

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There was no question that Drupal was the perfect choice for them:

  • The site integrates with the school’s infrastructure. Their hosting solution was prepared for hosting Drupal sites.
  • As several of their sites are also built on Drupal, training costs could be greatly reduced, as the site management and editorial UX is common.
  • The school uses Shibboleth for authentication across its infrastructure, and the website needed to integrate in this sense as well. Since Single Sign-On was also a requirement, we looked at the Shibboleth authentication Drupal module, and it made the integration effortless.
  • Services module provided a very easy tool for sharing data between Drupal sites of the school.

Of course no project goes without challenges. One of the most visible features was a customizable dashboard. It was obvious that this area would be heavily used by everyone, as it provided users with the navigation both inside the Intranet site, and towards other University services. Users had to be able to rearrange, add and delete items, without having to think about “saving” their changes to make the experience really seamless. Solutions like this are pretty much native in other frameworks, but required quite some custom development from our part. Luckily we don’t have to live without these features for long, as Backbone.js is integrated into Drupal 8.

Another interesting functionality that we had to design and implement was the ability for the intranet site to provide a centralized system for managing user profiles, that is used by several other services in the School’s infrastructure. To tackle this problem the Services module provided a great foundation, we extended it with a few resources where needed.

Thanks to Drupal and the professional approach of both Acquia and Saïd Business School, I am happy to say that the project finished without any large obstacles.

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