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.