Collaboration was not adequately supported by existing systems
We helped RMCA resolve all these issues by planning and implementing a SharePoint-based solution focused on project workflow, document management, and records management.
The project, which covered both Portals & Enterprise Content Management and Business Process Transformation, began with our coming to clearly understand RMCA’s operations. RMCA has approximately 100 employees, approximately 90% of which reside outside the corporate office in various field and client locations. One of the main goals of the site was to have a centralized location where employees could find corporate and project information. Furthermore, thousands of people, including external contractors, might be associated with a given project RMCA manages for its clients. Because of the complex web of responsibilities and external partners, the need for efficient content sharing, management, and disposition is business-critical for the firm.
Prior to this project, RMCA had deployed SharePoint 2007 but had not used it much. Employees managed data and content as best they could using file shares. There was little in the way of formal electronic archiving, retention policies, and related processes. Improving on the current situation offered big opportunities for improved productivity—especially through increased collaboration and external sharing—as well as liability management and eDiscovery preparedness.
We conducted a series of meetings, interview, and workshops. We continually asked “what do you do?” and “how do you do it?” As we gained a clear understanding of the business, we prepared a roadmap toward fundamental improvements in internal operations. See the Appendix, below, for more details about the roadmap, including key needs we identified across each clearly defined project phase. Overall, the solutions we built benefited RMCA’s business in two main categories: (1) internal operations and workflows, and (2) client project management.
Internal operations processes and workflows. Before this project, many repeating processes were handled by email. Now, many key processes are structured using out of the box SharePoint workflows. For example: “how do I make a purchasing request if I’m in the field and need a piece of equipment?”–no longer is the answer “send an email.” Now, for this any a wide range of other processes, employees kick off workflows by submitting forms, which then route to the appropriate managers.
Another example is onboarding new employees. Whereas previously there was a range of discrete, unstructured tasks to complete, now the process is efficient. A workflow process kicks off when an Excel template is opened and basic information entered. The hiring manager submits a form to SharePoint, and the process ticks forward from there, with each task assigned to relevant individuals for efficient setup.
Yet another important aspect of the solution relates to the fact that RMCA employees often work from remote sites, on a range of devices (“BYOD”). We ensured a touch enablement of the SharePoint environment, to accommodate work on Surface, iPad, phone, and other mobile devices. Specifically, we built the site using OSC LiveTiles in a simple, elegant approach with no more than three to four levels of drill-down.
In this approach, an employee experiences LiveTiles experience whether on a desktop computer or a Surface 3. This device-independent solution gives RMCA the most efficient, user-friendly experience—and helps ensure the solution is used as intended.
RMCA client project management. For every client project, RMCA wanted to apply a common template within the SharePoint environment, using a common taxonomy. We built the solution to allow RMCA to apply the solution across the wide range of its construction and aviation projects. The solution allows RMCA to move away from its formerly paper and file-share based system of categorizing content. Now, content on a given project is captured and remains available for use on future projects, when relevant, rather than getting “locked away.”
Also, retention policies now apply to files added to the document library, with a huge range of documents managed—everything from initial proposals to detailed engineering instructions for specific equipment. The lifecycle of documents is now well defined.
Now, everything is structured in a common taxonomy—and no more folders. Now RMCA is working strictly with metadata associated with specific documents via the taxonomy. This tight taxonomy also enables effective external sharing. Selective sharing, taking advantage of Office 365 features—enables RMCA staff to work side by side with representatives from the many other firms involved in a project. We helped create a client project portal where, during a project, many kinds of documents are stored and shared securely.