For Flemish-based iMinds — an independent research institute designed to bring together companies, government and non-profit organizations on research projects — collaboration and agility of research is critical. Not only is innovation a competitive advantage, it is iMinds’ core business.
Prior to Alfresco, the company struggled with information overload. There were many users collaborating on research, including an extended network of partners, as well as over 1,000 researchers. This led to thousands of documents being exchanged primarily through e-mail and major issues of version control.
As the number of projects managed by iMinds’ research center continued to grow, its existing collaborative platform also needed to expand. To accommodate this growth, iMinds wanted a platform that made it easy for experts to share documents, as well as schedules and mailing lists.
After evaluating more than ten different solutions, iMinds chose Alfresco for its flexible and powerful open source architecture and its ability to provide a solid system for secure collaborative work. The solution was implemented quickly and users were involved in the implementation process to ensure adoption and ease of use.
Alfresco provides efficient collaboration between a large number of people working in different locations. Initially intended to manage local projects, the platform has since been extended to assist with organizing the research center’s European projects as well.
Today, iMinds has some 50,000 documents stored on the Alfresco platform, as well as several thousand Wikis — all with associated workflows so that users can easily and securely edit, view, and collaborate on documents. Not only has Alfresco increased productivity and improved the process used to build teams of experts for various projects, it has also helped iMinds meet various industry compliance regulations.
“Everything for us is built around the Alfresco platform,” said Jeroen Derynck, information and communication technology director for iMinds. “Our researchers no longer lose valuable time searching for documents or reformatting, so it really has helped is to streamline the research we are doing. It’s really core to our research methodology.”
iMinds currently has more than 2,000 users using Alfresco, which serves as the institute’s central document management and collaboration platform. Users are at the very heart of the platform and regularly communicate ideas for new features they would like to have.
Because Alfresco’s workflow authorizes the automation of administrative tasks, processing time related to the reporting of documents associated with projects sent to iMinds — and those that iMinds has sent to government institutions — has been reduced by 80%.
Moving forward, iMinds plans to create a system for digital asset management including the supply, noting, classing, storage, and searching of digital resources such as animated images, sound recordings and other multimedia documents.
iMinds plans to use Alfresco for the centralized storage of all internal documents and to provide access to a single database, making it quick and easy to identify qualified team members for specific projects while fostering communication and collaboration.
“The collaborative platform is really what sets us apart from our peers,” said Derynck. “Our customers love it, our researchers love it, and the platform is quite easy to use. Everyone can upload a document, everyone can edit…you have a team feeling, a feeling of a bonded community. That has been an added value of the platform itself.”