- Improved document management
- Streamlined customer inquiry process
- Established central document repository
- Improved internal collaboration and file sharing
- Improved system reliability and scalability
- Eliminated company VPN to intranet and most file servers
- Over 388,000 documents, or 90 gigabytes, now managed in the cloud
For 25 years, Colorado-based E Source has been providing objective research and advisory services to over 300 utilities and large energy users. Their industry experts respond to thousands of customer inquiries each year and the company needed an easy way to capture and search for information and knowledge that was spread across the company’s file server, a wiki-based intranet site, personal computers, paper files, or on email servers.
E Source found they could not efficiently find the appropriate information, which affected responsiveness. If a researcher was trying to respond to a question that was similar to a previous inquiry, he/she did not have an easy way to document or search past responses. Oftentimes research was duplicated and resources were not used optimally.
The company knew it needed a central repository to capture its knowledge, track inquiry responses and search information. Key criteria for the system included:
- Central repository where users could store, search and collaborate on information;
- Flexibility in how content is entered into the system (support for email, CIFS, MS Office, Web interface, and other interfaces);
- Standards-based for easy integration with other systems and extendibility;
- Robust document management functionality such as version controls, permissions/roles, and workflows;
- Easy to scale infrastructure;
- Metadata management and search capabilities to help manage and find content quickly.
E Source evaluated multiple technologies including SharePoint, Salesforce, Google, Jive, OpenText, and others before selecting Alfresco for its internal content, collaboration, and knowledge management system. Alfresco’s licensing model meant that the system would be cost effective and allow the company to retain ownership of its data and the system. Standard’s support would make it easy to integrate Alfresco with its Drupal-based website, Salesforce, Google, and other system interfaces such as CIFS, Active Directory, and Microsoft Office. Alfresco’s content management and collaboration capabilities could also be used to replace other systems, such as the company’s intranet site and many file servers.
E Source implemented Alfresco in the cloud using Amazon Web Service (AWS). The company made a decision over the last five years to leverage cloud-based solutions as much as possible and had experience running its Drupal-based website on AWS. The AWS cloud infrastructure offers benefits including reduced hardware and maintenance costs, monitoring, infinite scalability, systems reliability, redundancy and improved backup. For the IT team, a cloud environment is easier to manage and maintain without requiring additional costs or personnel resources.
With AWS the company no longer needs a physical datacenter/co-location. In fact, using AWS makes it easy for E Source to enact disaster recovery planning procedures to prevent data loss. For example, during Hurricane Sandy, the company migrated its Alfresco-based content from a data center on the East coast to the West coast. Had the company not done this, it was at risk of system data loss from facility flooding.
E Source worked in part with an Alfresco partner, Tribloom, to develop the information architecture and to configure Alfresco to include data and content modeling for improved metadata management. The partner helped with integrating Activity Directory and Lucene customizations to create a search result display.
Customer questions are submitted directly through E Source’s website using an online form. The inquiry is processed in Salesforce creating a customer record.
When the customer receives their email response from the E Source researcher a new folder is automatically created in the Alfresco system with the appropriate metadata to document the response. This is all done behind the scenes and does not create extra work for the researcher. Not only does the company now have one central place to document all responses, but employees can search the repository for information to help respond to questions more consistently and efficiently.
E Source now uses Alfresco for its internal document management and collaboration needs, replacing most of their file shares and intranet. Researchers and departments can collaborate on documents while managing edits, permissions, and version control. The company also replaced MediaWiki, which was slow due to VPN connections, with a new intranet site using Alfresco Share and now incorporates a number of social features such as wikis, blogs, discussions and document libraries. With the new intranet running on AWS, users have an easier time accessing information remotely, eliminating performance issues that were encountered accessing the file servers and intranet via the company’s remote VPN.
- Moving to Alfresco on AWS has provided E Source with a central location for its employees to store and find knowledge.
- AWS makes it cost effective to move systems to the cloud in order to provide improved system reliability, scalability and performance.
- E Source has now streamlined its customer inquiry process and can respond to customer questions more efficiently than in the past, improving client satisfaction.
- With Alfresco, E Source was able to deploy a content management platform that can grow with the company as it continues to increase employee collaboration and document sharing.
- Storing duplicate files on multiple systems has now been eliminated by using Alfresco.
E Source is looking at additional integration opportunities between Alfresco and Drupal, Google Drive, Solr and Salesforce.Download Printer-friendly PDF