When management and technology consultancy BearingPoint, Inc. set out to strengthen its information sharing and collaboration processes, the goal was to replace six different content management systems with a single platform that could enable enterprise content management, collaborative document creation and improved team communication. The firm migrated more than 1 TB of data and mandated that all documents and correspondence related to ongoing consulting projects be stored in a dedicated team room in Microsoft SharePoint for centralized access. However, users were slow to cooperate because of a cumbersome SharePoint uploading process. BearingPoint removed that hurdle with an enterprise-wide deployment of harmon.ie for SharePoint – social email software that provides point-and-click access to SharePoint-based collaboration through the email interface – after a viral campaign that saw more than 200 users embrace the freemium version.
“Even in the first month after deploying harmon.ie, we saw immediate improvements in document sharing and other collaboration activities. harmon.ie is taking the pain out of SharePoint use, and that’s a vital step in facilitating project work and ensuring that documents and correspondence are available for long-term use.”
- Anke Riesner, IT Director
Too Many Steps
While the catalyst for BearingPoint’s collaboration campaign was the need to harvest business-critical information from the consultancy’s U.S. operations following its corporate restructuring, bringing all project documentation into a single repository was also a strategic priority.
Before adopting SharePoint, BearingPoint stored documents on a file server. However, the file servers could only be accessed within the BearingPoint network, meaning that it had become very difficult for BearingPoint consultants to establish a link with the network via VPN. For a firm that has more than 3,500 users and maintains 10 million documents in 15 countries, centralizing files was imperative to enable teamwork among users in disparate locations as well as to create a permanent archive of project activities for both ongoing availability and risk mitigation.
After deciding to standardize on SharePoint, the platform was configured with over 200 project team rooms to facilitate document collaboration, social features like MySites and People Search to support the team selection process, and a robust search engine to easily locate documents in the archive. BearingPoint then held face-to-face training sessions to explain the collaboration mandate and demonstrate SharePoint use.
Despite those efforts, users balked at adopting SharePoint because of usability difficulties – including the need to transfer new files from their email to disk and then from disk to SharePoint for end-of-day bulk uploads.
“Our core business is document handling, from quotes to RFPs, RFIs, presentations, contracts, solution designs, blueprints and approvals. All of this information is channeled through email and needs to be archived in SharePoint, but frequently that didn’t happen because it was just too much trouble. We needed a drag-and-drop solution with no burden on users.”
- Anke Riesner
Using Email as the Gateway
BearingPoint found the answer in harmon.ie’s ability to connect users to SharePoint without leaving the email application they use throughout their workday. Through a harmon.ie sidebar in Microsoft Outlook, users would be able to upload local documents or save email attachments to SharePoint, share documents as links (a space-saving BearingPoint requirement), and complete other SharePoint tasks with just a few clicks in the conventional, intuitive solution. No more complex multi-step navigation would be required, eliminating barriers to SharePoint use.
Before embarking on an enterprise-wide deployment, the company decided to test the waters by encouraging employees to download the freemium version. Word spread quickly as users reported finding it easy to transfer files to SharePoint as well as retrieve them from the harmon.ie sidebar, convincing IT managers to proceed with a full rollout.
The IT team then moved to deploy the harmon.ie enterprise edition to centralize deployment and provisioning, gain easy access to enterprise social networking features such as SharePoint MySites and People Search within email, and take advantage of the customization and support services offered to paying users. Among the customizations delivered: automatic population of each user’s personal SharePoint team room list into the harmon.ie sidebar based on his or her My Links list in SharePoint, eliminating the need for users to create each team room link individually in harmon.ie.
After a two-month deployment process was completed, BearingPoint saw file uploads to SharePoint rise immediately, with four out of five users preferring to access SharePoint with harmon.ie. The successful employee buy-in made collaborative working much easier and more efficient. With the ease of sending file links and the enhanced accessibility of those files, collaborators could be certain that they were always working from the latest version of a document. Some benefits BearingPoint has realized with harmon.ie include:
- Increased collaboration - With SharePoint-based project information, employee profiles and chat/email connectivity all accessible from the harmon.ie sidebar, team members anywhere in the world can quickly access the people and information they need to work together.
- Elimination of document chaos - By fostering the use of SharePoint for document sharing, harmon.ie has eliminated the need for users to search for needed documents on local computers while also ensuring retrieval of the most current document versions.
- Enforcement of content management policies - Without the laborious process of downloading the day’s files to disk before uploading them to SharePoint, users readily comply with BearingPoint’s filing requirements. This not only strengthens the firm’s collaborative capabilities but also aids in complying with countries’ data retention laws.
“With harmon.ie, there are no more collaboration barriers. The extra step of transferring files to disk is gone, document attachments and other files are uploaded to SharePoint as they are used instead of waiting to upload everything at the end of the day, and the whole process takes place from email where our partners and managers ‘live’ all day. It’s a key enabler of our collaboration environment.”
- Anke Riesner