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Agglomeration Community Of Montpellier Customer Story

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The Agglomeration Community Of Montpellier Collaborates Securely With Its 31 Member Municipalities, Thanks To Alfresco In The Cloud

The Agglomeration Community of Montpellier is a result of a vast movement across France in which satellite municipalities in a metropolitan area joined together to form a “community”. The Agglomeration Community of Montpellier stretches across 31 municipalities totaling approximately 400,000 residents.

Challenge

Like many local government entities in France, the Agglomeration Community of Montpellier is taking steps to digitize its documents and processes. Specifically, the French government has mandated that by January 1, 2015, all documents exchanged between local communities and key local government partners must be sent electronically.

In anticipation of this mandate, the Agglomeration Community of Montpellier needed to implement a document management solution to:

  • Digitize documents and meet the government’s requirements in terms of modernization, document archiving, and cost savings
  • Replace file servers with a solution that is integrated with the Information System and can handle user rights, metadata, and versioning
  • Create collaborative spaces for both internal users and external partners
  • Store reference documents (awarded contracts, requirement specifications, purchase orders, memos, city council meeting minutes and resulting decisions, maps of municipalities, job descriptions of civil servants, etc.) within each department and make them readily available
  • Provide web and mobile access

Solution

Alfresco was the only document management solution on the market that could meet all the requirements of the Agglomeration Community’s IT Department. Because it is an open source solution, Alfresco complied with articulated duties regarding responsible use of taxpayer money and easily integrates with Liferay and other business applications.

As Philippe Gippet, deputy CIO of the Agglomeration Community of Montpellier, explains, “Because Alfresco is open source, we were able to integrate it tightly into the IS without any problems. We even changed the look and the name, and created a new logo. With a proprietary solution, that would have been impossible.”

A prototype was developed to validate the solution. The Agglomeration Community hired SQLI / AMOAE to help with project management and Bull to install, integrate, and extend the solution by adding new developments. SQLI / AMOAE helped the Agglomeration Community devise a roadmap, the architecture, and the data model. SQLI / AMOAE also provided consulting services regarding technical solutions for the developments in order to avoid creating any problems during future upgrades.

The IT Department chose a phased approach of implementing the new solution incrementally, one department at a time. A project manager was appointed for each department and was tasked with coordinating with the IT Department. At every step, users benefited from new features and experienced a smooth transition because new uses were introduced gradually.

The least complex documents (awarded contracts) were moved to Alfresco first, in order to get a good handle on all the project parameters before the more complex documents were tackled. Collaborative spaces were set up from the start, a strategy that contributed to the solution’s popularity with users.

Conversely, the Liferay portal—through which all reference documents can be accessed— was made available to users only at the end of the project, once users had adopted the solution. Users can now easily find the information they are looking for, thanks to search engines that are integrated into the portal. Of the 1,600 users who access the 70,000 documents available via Liferay, most are not even aware that the data are in fact stored in Alfresco.

The IT Department wanted users to be able to collaborate and share documents with external service providers, with the transportation authority, and with the 31 municipalities. Alfresco in the cloud (which synchronizes the on premises Alfresco server with a version hosted on Alfresco’s cloud) was chosen because it offers several key features:

  • Security: the IS is not accessed externally and restricted-access documents are kept behind the firewall
  • Cost savings: provides high availability at a lower cost
  • Savings in resources: the IT team, which is already stretched, is not required to maintain the solution or to be on call outside work hours
  • Permanent access: users have access at any time and via mobile devices
  • Immediate access to the latest features
  • Network Usage: it avoids the need to send large documents by email, which previously risked overloading the email system

Philippe Gippet says, “I signed up with a private account to test Alfresco in the cloud, out of curiosity. That’s when I realized that it would meet our professional needs perfectly.” Today, around 30 collaborative spaces are open on Alfresco in the cloud, and 150 external users, on average, access them.

Results

The Alfresco project is on schedule and meets the targets set up in the initial roadmap. All objectives have been achieved, and the integration with the business applications, SSO, LemonLDAP, MS Office, and text recognition solution (Abbyy) work perfectly. New documents are regularly imported into the document repository, continually extending the range and value of the project. For example, HR documents are currently being imported.

Among the multiple benefits of the new solution are:

  • Compliance with the government requirement to digitize and store documents
  • Effective and efficient management of reference documents
  • Increased productivity
  • Elimination of version and format issues
  • Elimination of siloes amongst the organization’s various departments, which has increased collaboration across different teams and with external partners

Philippe Gippet concludes, “Users are happy, and top management is too.”

"Because Alfresco is open source, we were able to integrate it tightly into the IS without any problems. We even changed the look and the name, and created a new logo. With a proprietary solution, that would have been impossible. "


— Philippe Gippet, deputy CIO