Case Studies

Document Control in SharePoint 2013

Posted in Aerospace and Defense, Digital Workplace Solutions, Pharmaceutical and Medical, SharePoint

Summary

Essex Industries is a leading supplier to the Aerospace and Defense, First Response, Safety and Medical markets. DMC’s Consulting Services team implemented a Document Control Management System for Essex Industries using advanced features of the Microsoft SharePoint 2013 Enterprise Edition platform.

The SharePoint Document Control Management System provides the Essex engineering teams with project collaboration sites that include a repository for new documents, document control with workflows to approve new and update content, as well as access to a restructure document repository that was migrated from nested folders on network drives to SharePoint libraries. The system was implemented on a load-balanced SharePoint 2013 multi-server farm architecture.

Solution

Essex Industries was looking for a better solution for their Document Management processes and asked DMC’s Consulting Services team to assist with the implementation of SharePoint 2013 Enterprise Edition as the solution's foundation. Essex also wanted to take advantage of the other tools that SharePoint offers, including Project Management/Collaboration, Dashboards, Enterprise Search, and managing Standard Operating Procedures (via wikis). DMC started the project with a Discovery Phase to define the requirements needed for each feature of the proposed system. The requirements were gathered from a series of sessions with Essex department champions to determine the appropriate taxonomy, SharePoint apps, metadata and workflows that comprise the solution.

A Document Management Process already existed and included a carefully planned out approval process, yet it was not very automated. Multiple factors determine who needs to participate in the approval process (e.g. category of the document, roles on each engineering project, etc.), so the actual participants in this process vary quite a bit. Due to the complexity of the approval process, the out of the box SharePoint approval workflows were not sufficient and required custom workflows for approval to be created. Once a document had completed the approval process, a Word or Excel document would be automatically converted into a PDF and added to the Approved Document Library.

Once all the requirements had been defined, the implementation phase began by creating two environments:  User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and Production. For the UAT environment a two-server architecture was created and for the Production environment a five-server farm architecture was built. Enterprise Search was configured for both along with Office Web Apps, MySites, SharePoint Apps, and Workflow Manager.

Many of the datasets used in the defined metadata requirements were already maintained in third party software systems. So, rather than creating a duplicate set of data, Business Connectivity Services was utilized to select data from the existing databases. Existing external data was also used to drive the financial dashboards for each project. By making this information readily available on the SharePoint 2013 project site, a Project Manager is now able to see all project information in one central location (documents, tasks, issues, financial data, etc.).

Once all the requirements had been developed and tested, an import script was written in PowerShell to convert nested folder hierarchies into flat SharePoint document libraries with metadata to categorize existing documents. Finally, training was scheduled for the department champions to learn how to navigate through SharePoint, use the new Document Control approval process, and go on to train their department users and increase user adoption.

Customer Benefits

  • Unified 3 separate document repositories into a single user-friendly SharePoint repository by automating the migration of tens of thousands of documents
  • Simplified and standardized file naming and storage across 3 sub-companies
  • Users are able to instantly find what they are looking via the SharePoint Enterprise Search feature that indexes every word in every document stored on network drives or in SharePoint
  • Applied a formal, structured and consistent document approval workflow process
  • Automatic conversion of approved documents into PDF format is a big time saver
  • Engineering sites facilitate improved project management and collaboration
  • PMs and business users now have an at-a-glance view of financial dashboards for all projects
  • Professional networking is being promoted via SharePoint’s Social features

Technologies

  • SharePoint 2013 Enterprise Edition
  • SharePoint Designer 2013
  • PowerShell
  • Titus SharePoint Security
  • SautinSoft ExcelToPDF
  • Word Automation Service
  • Office Web Apps
  • MySites
  • Workflow Manager
  • SharePoint Apps
  • Business Connectivity Services
  • Custom web parts and workflow custom actions built with Visual Studio