Atomic Energy of Canada, Ltd.


Company Information

AECL is a global nuclear technology and engineering company that designs and develops the CANDU® nuclear power reactor, as well as other advanced energy products and services. With 3000 employees and 51 nuclear reactors around the world, AECL supports customers over the entire plant life cycle from R&D, nuclear services, design and engineering—to construction management, specialist technology and waste management and decommissioning.


As a means of improving customer service, AECL committed to improving employee communications and its primary communications vehicle, the employee website portal. To evaluate the current environment and to develop a plan of action for enhancing both communications and the website, AECL engaged Prescient Digital Media in December of 2003 with the project lasting until early 2005.

The evaluation and planning work included a two phase project:
  • Phase I: Assessment and Planning, with two key deliverables: Key Findings and Recommendations (completed in January 2004) and the Blueprint (completed in March 2004)
  • Phase II: Implementation.

Subsequent to the adoption and approval of the full Blueprint, AECL hired Prescient Digital Media to examine and evaluate, and ultimately award and project manage the appropriate technology vendor to build and implement the new AECL intranet, myAECL.


Phase I: Assessment
Deliverable: Key Findings & Recommendation Report

Communications and Website Evaluation – using Prescient’s six-point methodology, the AECL intranet was evaluated and scored (scale of 1-10) according to the following criteria:

  • Planning & Resources
  • Design
  • Layout
  • Usability
  • Content
  • Tools & Innovation
In addition to the intranet, other AECL communications vehicles including the employee newsletter, executive communications including town halls, the use of broadcast email, and direct manager-to-employee communications. Strengths and weaknesses were noted for each and scored accordingly.

Business Requirements Analysis
– an analysis of the content requirements and priorities included one-on-one and group interviews of communications stakeholders (those who own and manage communications functions and/or key initiatives or departments). Key requirements were flagged as issues requiring recommendations or action in the final plan.

Employee Research
– using business requirements and best practice research tools, Prescient constructed an employee survey of 25 multiple-choice, matrix and open-ended questions. Nearly 700 employees completed the survey, which was analyzed, cross tabulated by employee position and geographic location and cross-referenced with business requirements findings and the internal AECL Customer Satisfaction Survey.

– a formal identification, scoring and documentation of relevant employee communications and intranet best practices and documented case studies of a number of relevant or leading organizations including Bruce Power, Cisco, Fidelity Investments Canada, Maritime Life, Ontario Power Generation, IBM and Telus. Website case studies were scored according to the same evaluation criteria applied and compared to the AECL website for baseline comparison.

Phase II: Planning
Deliverable: Blueprint (intranet only)

Strategic Planning – a strategic planning stage included a half-day workshop with eight key stakeholders. The process included a S.W.O.T. analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) and the development of key directives including:
  • Mission statement
  • Overarching objectives
  • Measurable goals
  • Critical success indicators (performance measures)
The strategic directives are used to construct the ensuing function plan, information architecture and wireframes as well as guide the ongoing management and evolution of the website.

Governance Model
– using the business requirements analysis and the strategic directives the governance model defines roles and responsibilities and the decision-making process and high-level polices for content development and publishing, intranet development, and email use and distribution.

Functional Plan
– a plan detailing the portal’s form and function with an accompanying information architecture and wireframes (page layouts).

– a design phase that builds on the existing AECL brand guidelines while accounting for all of the identified business requirements and subsequent information architecture. The design stage led to two rounds of design concepts that were tested in two employee focus groups before finalizing a single concept.

– using best practices and internal expertise Prescient developed an extensive marketing plan that included goals, approach, value proposition, key message, and detailed activities and vehicles with an associated timeline for educating employees on the intranet’s value and purpose to the organization.
The final blueprint and design concept contained all the elements necessary to evaluate and select the appropriate technology solution – a process led by Prescient.


Upon completion and adoption of the Blueprint, AECL used Prescient to identify and implement the best and most appropriate technology for fulfilling the requirements and vision of the Intranet Blueprint. Prescient’s work during this phase included a 24-week design and implementation phase including:
  • Developing the RFP and short-list of potential solutions
  • Selecting and awarding the vendor contract
  • Project management the implementation of the vendor
  • Overseeing the development of the overall implementation plan
  • Overseeing the development of the content migration plan

  • Troubleshooting and counsel
The new AECL intranet portal launched on January 27, 2005 with much fanfare, kudos and congratulations to the project team. The final solution cost half the original budget, and was completed in half the budgeted time.