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DCNS Enchants 4,000 of its Employees and Boosts Collaboration, Efficiency and Innovation with Alfresco

The DCNS Group’s success as an advanced-technology company with global reach is built on exceptional know-how and a unique array of industrial resources. DCNS designs, builds and supports submarines and surface combatants and proposes services for naval shipyards and bases. It also offers a large array of solutions in civil nuclear engineering and marine renewable energy. Having long been conscious of its corporate social responsibility, DCNS was one of the first major defense groups to achieve full ISO 14001 certification. The DCNS Group generates annual revenues of €3.4 billion and employs 13,600 people (2013 data).


The DCNS Group sought to employ a new collaborative platform that would be robust, scalable and efficient and meet the following goals:

  • Replace obsolete document databases with a modern, user-friendly solution (Web 2.0).
  • Enable employees across multiple sites to share information and collaborate (e.g., tags, wikis, blogs, collaborative sites).
  • Permit the addition of new components in the future, thereby avoiding making a significant initial investment before the solution’s validation through user feedback (agile method).
  • Integrate with the Group’s Information System (e.g., SSO, email) and allow the platform’s various modules to communicate seamlessly and securely (e.g., publication of documents between modules, cross-searches).
  • Empower users to make changes themselves instead of placing support calls to the IT Department (i.e., self-service); boost productivity.

The platform not only had to be rapidly operational and easy to learn, but it also had to cover at least 80% of user needs straight out of the box.

DCNS’s project, which introduces web 2.0 technologies and new collaborative uses, is typical of Enterprise 2.0. It is characterized by a long-term vision of Enterprise Content Management Architecture and a roadmap of investments spanning several years.


DCNS’s Information Systems Department first mandated an architect firm to conduct a benchmark study of several possible solutions, including Alfresco. 

DCNS tested the community version of Alfresco as a POC, and users provided positive feedback, confirming that Alfresco was the best solution for the company. Open- source, standards-compliant solutions such as Alfresco are consistent with DCNS’s vision of a future-proof platform, and the fact that many other organizations have chosen Alfresco reassured DCNS that the technology is here to stay.

Olivier Bonturi, the Collaboration, Innovation and Security Team Manager within DCNS’s IT Department, says, “We sensed from the beginning that users were going to like the solution, especially because we decided to use agile methods for the project.”

The architecture comprises a single Alfresco installation, which serves as a foundation upon which various modules are developed to meet specific collaboration and document management requirements. The modules correspond to well-defined spaces, which users access according to their rights. 

This modular approach implies that only one solution—not a heterogeneous mix of ECM solutions—be installed and maintained, and the licenses, maintenance and necessary skills are all streamlined.

DCNS used the agile method to develop the first two modules of the new platform, and IT services provider Sopra continued to use the method to develop the remaining components. DCNS and Sopra customized the platform’s features to meet DCNS’s needs and then fine-tuned Alfresco according to user feedback from a 10-person pilot program.

“We used Alfresco’s model for developments because it is flexible,” explains Maxime Orain, the Alfresco Team Manager at Sopra. “The modules were developed on Alfresco’s APIs. Each application corresponds to a module. Everything was versioned; we used scripts to automatically update Alfresco. The modules were easily integrated into the platform. Java and JavaScript are standard technologies, and we are experts in them.” 

At each stage of development, Sopra solicited feedback from users, which was used to improve the next version. “Working with the agile method allowed us to meet users within the various business units. This permitted us to ensure that the project was going in the right direction and to see how eagerly anticipated the new application was,” Orain adds.

Once the Group validated the pilot, it deployed the platform to other departments and sites within the company. User training on the new platform consisted of self-service mini-tutorials on DCNS’s intranet. Training requirements remained simple because the Alfresco Share interface is easy to use. 

Toay, each application component corresponds to specific requirements and categories of users:

  • A set of collaborative spaces, Workeo, allows users to share information and draft new documents.
  • Once a document is validated through a workflow, a bridge allows the document to be published in the reference library application component, Dokeo.
  • Portlets allow users to display content in the community portal, Intraneo, which is based on Liferay.
  • A media catalog, Iconeo, gathers all media that the Communications Department validated.
  • The IT Department uses an administration module, Governance, to manage the platform.

Upon user request, the IT Department can set up new collaborative spaces in Workeo. Within these spaces, users are fully autonomous and can decide whom to invite to join the project.

Today, the platform contains 900 active spaces, and users request the creation of between five and 10 new spaces every week. Dokeo contains 20,000 documents available to 3,000 to 4,000 regular users, with a total of 10,000 visits per month. 



The platform is a success because when a user starts a new project, he automatically requests that a new space be created.

“The collaborative platform is extensively used and durable. It is a success,” Olivier Bonturi concludes.

DCNS draws important benefits from its new collaborative platform:

  • Personal productivity and team productivity have increased, as has innovation.
  • Younger employees, who are accustomed to new technologies and new ways of working, love the new platform. 


“The collaborative platform is extensively used and durable. It is a success.”

— Olivier Bonturi, Collaboration, Innovation and Security Team Manager, DCNS IT Department