A European Union-based independent agency which collaborates with scientists across the continent successfully rolled out a SharePoint-based knowledge management and collaboration initiative using harmon.ie as the solution to drive adoption and consistent use of critical metadata.
The Strategic Collaboration Challenge
Internally, the client faces collaboration requirements where scientists must be able to quickly, easily, and concurrently access any data relevant to an ongoing study. “Of course,” the Document Management Coordinator at the agency, explains, “employees should be able to retrieve documents… in a smooth way, in accordance with their expectations.”
The importance of internal collaboration for knowledge-sharing is not lost on anyone at the agency, but the ability to collaborate with clients across Europe is of paramount importance.
The clients are the benefactors of an entire agency that must remain organized and secure in order to adequately do its job. Any solution used at the agency must adhere to specific requirements, such as those pertaining to the storage of potentially sensitive data and information. These documents include not only scientific data, statistics, guidelines, and other assessments, but also documentation related to administrative areas, Procurement, Finance, IT, etc. When it comes to document management solutions, the agency needed a system that enables them to upload existing documents, access documentation efficiently, and create new documents based on standardized templates.
When the Document Management Coordinator began at the agency in 2009, she inherited Microsoft SharePoint as the organization’s document management solution.
“We are a Microsoft shop and we already had SharePoint as a platform,” she noted.
A governmental commission requires the agency to maintain an approved document management system, but she noticed that there was more than one product on the market that could integrate with SharePoint and promised to get the most out of the solution.
“So, I started to search the internet by myself, and I found several products, including harmon.ie,” recalled the Document Management Coordinator. She added, “I found lots of them on the market, so we decided to do a study.”
Taking into account the solution’s performance, ease of use, and ability to integrate with existing Microsoft solutions, she understood she needed to find a solution that fulfilled all of her employees’ needs for creating harmony with all of the governing body’s regulations.
Anticipating the forthcoming upgrade to the latest version of SharePoint, the timing was right for the agency to get the most out of their investment. harmon.ie offered agency workers the opportunity to focus purely on what matters most – contributing to and sharing the knowledge that will help them do their job.
By allowing these information workers to focus on collaboration, rather than on learning to use a multitude of tools, harmon.ie has permitted scientists and doctors to pool their resources into digital knowledge-capture and knowledge-sharing.
The harmon.ie Experience
With the SharePoint migration taking place on-premises, the Document Management Coordinator pushed for the product she had been able to successfully configure on her own – even in the trial phase.
“What I liked about harmon.ie was the fact that I could download the trial version and I could… I did it myself,” she reported. “I mean, I have never been a developer… and I was able to do this by myself.”
With a collection of approximately 15,000 documents, agency employees were able to achieve document storage and accessibility that was better, faster, and more flexible than ever before. By making it easy for people to specify SharePoint metadata, contributors have been able to locate and retrieve documents more quickly, easily, and efficiently with harmon.ie.
The agency’s field of work is a rapidly-changing environment, so metadata definitions have to be flexible. Therefore, the agency enables employees to suggest new metadata definitions, some related to topics, some related to the target audience, and some related to activities. Suggestions are then added to an external system. SharePoint reads the metadata values from this external system.
“Based on this metadata, you can retrieve the documents that you need,” explained the Document Management Coordinator. “People just need to have their site to collaborate with people they are working for, a certain project-working group, whatever. And by having access to SharePoint from email makes people very happy because they all use Outlook every day to send emails back and forth and not having to leave that context helps drive collaboration.”
Adding to the interactive experience, agency employees reported very positive evaluations for harmon.ie’s interaction with Microsoft Outlook. This Outlook integration, reportedly, “is quite user-friendly, and it has good performance,” says the Document Management Coordinator.
The agency continues to offer training for harmon.ie through the use of training manuals and presentations – those that request material or training will receive it. To make it even more efficient for their employees, harmon.ie enables the agency to standardize their template(s), boosting employee productivity and expediting document production time.
The harmon.ie integration with Outlook has enabled document storage that’s as simple as drag and drop. In the future, the Document Management Coordinator and the team at the agency expect employees to continue to capture knowledge by uploading emails, as well as documents, into the harmon.ie information stream.
With harmon.ie’s content organizer, these emails can be accessed in the same way as other critical documents. When metadata-tagged, they can be accessed just as quickly and as easily as any other information stored in the system.
The agency also plans to continue to grow the system knowledge base. In the future, the agency foresees offering employees access to documents from mobile devices. With harmon.ie, that won’t be a problem – because harmon.ie presents a secure, single-screen collaboration experience across all Microsoft-based collaboration tools from the desktop and mobile devices!