SharePoint users dancing to a different drum

Tatts Pokies, Tatts Lotteries, Unitab Wagering and Maxgaming: some of the biggest names in Australian gaming and wagering come under the umbrella of Tatts Group, which has over 2500 staff located across the country.

Since 2003 Tatts Group has employed SharePoint to manage documentation through its lifecycle from creation and storage, to discovery, archiving and deletion.

Fiona Caldwell, Group Manager, Business Systems, said, “In 2003 we looked for a simple solution to assist us, and found that Microsoft SharePoint 2003 provided the fundamentals of what we needed at a very low entry cost.

“This solution was then implemented into Tatts Group, and has since been expanded on. Last year we upgraded to SharePoint 2007.”

SharePoint drives the corporate intranet which provides the source of truth for corporate information, company policies and forms, and employee information. It is also utilised for team collaboration sites and communities of interest; as well as personal workspaces, and employee profiles that are integrated with the Telephone Directory.

“Our requirements for content management are very similar to other companies,” said Caldwell, “We want to better manage our information – such as documents, emails, business processes, etc. This includes the ability to capture, manage, store and archive. While we have some digital assets these are not extensive and there is limited requirement to manage these assets at this point in time.

“We are looking at implementing a capture workflow for our Accounts Payable processes within the next 12 months. This means that we have started looking at scanning and capture.

“We are also in the progress of implementing a Business Process Management solution (K2) that integrates with our SharePoint environment to automate and monitor manual forms based processes. These processes will integrate with our corporate Financial and HR systems.”

Tatts Group uses TechnologyOne Financials and the Chris21 HR application from Frontier Software.

It is currently underway with a desktop upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7 and Office 2007 under the Microsoft early adopter program. Symantec Enterprise Vault is also being deployed for email archiving.

“We currently have information residing in many repositories – file shares, SharePoint sites, email, business intelligence systems, corporate applications, etc,” said Caldwell.

“While it is not important for us to create a single repository for our information, it is important that we have one location where an employee can go to find information. To achieve this we are continuing to improve the information that can be found and accessed through our intranet.

“Our intranet search can currently be used to find structured and unstructured data in the intranet and corporate file servers. This information includes formal document and policies, corporate information, team based information, and employee based information such as contact details, areas of responsibility, expertise, interests, languages spoken, etc. Future plans include hooking this search into our business intelligence systems.”

While SharePoint allows for content types and metadata to be attached to all information added, Tatts does not enforce any particular standards as to how information should be categorised.

“There are currently no plans for delivering corporate information to mobile devices, but the systems we have put in place have this capability should it become a priority in the future,” said Caldwell.

Designing the future

AECOM is a global company that provides technical and management consulting on some of the world’s largest design and engineering projects.

Dams and skyscrapers, aircraft carriers, highways and power plants – the AECOM group of companies has the engineering and design expertise resting within its more than 44,000 employees to handle some of the world’s largest construction projects. Last year it earned more than $US6 billion in revenue.

It has more than 4000 employees in Australia and New Zealand, involved in projects such as Brisbane’s North South Bypass Tunnel, the Australian Synchrotron, Olympic Dam Mine and Kunioon Coal Project; and in New Zealand, the Otahuhu Power Station and Auckland Rail Electrification project.

AECOM has turned to SharePoint for internal project management in Australia and New Zealand. For collaboration with clients and other companies working on long term projects it employs other platforms.

A Virtual Project Office (VPO) provides a means of distributing internal project delivery forms and managing collaboration outputs like documents and discussions.

Mike Harris, Associate Director and Manager Business Systems – Corporate for AECOM Australia New Zealand, said “SharePoint is used for critical documents on all projects and general correspondence on some, with Aconnex, ProPM and other products serving that need on our largest projects.”

Harris lists SharePoint’s ease of use among the reasons it was chosen for deployment. “There is minimal training needed, it’s easy to maintain and SharePoint fits into our IT and Business Systems Strategy,” said Harris.

A solid collaboration platform is essential to minimising the risk of contractual disputes, and makes available a valuable repository of lessons learned from previous projects

AECOM has deployed SharePoint MOSS 2007 Enterprise Features Pack 2. It is installed on Windows 2003 64-bit Standard Edition using SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 4 with an indexing engine installed on a separate server.

All AECOM staff use the basic Microsoft Office package and then depending on their role they may have specialised software for tasks such as CAD and architectural modelling programs.

Prior to the rollout of SharePoint, AECOM faced the usual problems with file and folder storage: files being easily lost or overwritten, and the wrong version being sent mistakenly.

“We implemented formal business rules that needed to be supported by some automated processes and workflows,” said Harris. “We have now customised SharePoint to provide workflow and tracking that assists staff with implementing our project delivery processes though.

“Our business rule is that all critical project documents and records are to be stored in the project folder (or VPO). When a project has closed the project manager must approve the content to be archived. Inherent in this step is that the project manager ensures that all the documents are stored in the correct folders through monitoring and continual reminders to team members.”\

“At present SharePoint doesn’t provide a satisfactory solution to AECOM for the management of e-mail. We still use Outlook public folders to store our project emails.”

Ahead of Plan

The ACT Planning and Land Authority (ACTPLA), is the ACT Government agency, responsible for strategic planning, urban design, land information, development and building regulation and lease administration.

In relation to the development and building industry, ACTPLA is responsible for processing development applications and receiving building approvals, as well as the licensing of trades for building, electrical, plumbing and gas. Earlier this year, ACTPLA launched eDevelopment, which allows customers to lodge development applications online via the web.

ACTPLA’s Manager of Information Services, Phil Jorritsma, says SharePoint is at the heart of eDevelopment, which will be expanded in the coming months to allow the entire development and building approval processes to be conducted online.

“The online system has been well received by applicants with 37 per cent of DAs being lodged electronically during September,” Mr Jorritsma says.

“The organisation is now building on the electronic foundation by upgrading to the latest version of Objective. This will facilitate collaboration and document management with SharePoint.”

Objective was implemented more than five years ago. The SharePoint-based eDevelopment repository hosts lodged DAs and supporting documents, while Objective has a much broader scope to consolidate all of ACTPLA’s records and document management into a single streamlined system used across the organisation.

When the Territory Records Act 2002 was introduced, the intention was to replace the use of network and local drives. Jorritsma says ACTPLA is at the forefront of developing electronic business solutions.

“As an organisation we have long recognised that adopting and adapting technology is able to provide long-term benefits to staff, industry and the ACT community.

“ACTPLA was selected as a pilot agency to trial Objective as a potential whole-of-government solution for records and document management. The diversity of the organisation and the wide range of documents which we create and manage were seen as a good test of the system’s capability”.

“Objective has provided ACTPLA with the important foundation that is required to develop electronic business applications such as eDevelopment. In practice, ACTPLA’s Integrated Document Management System (IDMS) makes the storage and retrieval of documents easier and faster.

“This assisted in significantly reducing the amount of time that staff were taking to locate files and therefore improved customer service. The system also simplifies mandatory searches, such as responding to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.” “When we receive a development application, particularly for commercial or multi-units, we often receive a large number of documents supporting the application. Objective allows us to manage all the documents in a single location providing access to all stakeholders simultaneously.

“Having multiple access to lodged plans allows processes to happen concurrently rather than consecutively. Objective’s audit and document control capability gives us confidence in the knowledge we are accessing the most accurate and up-to-date versions available.” Until the upgrade to the new version of Objective, due to take place in early 2010, documents and supporting files submitted to SharePoint must be duplicated in Objective. The upgrade will allow for plans and associated documents to be lodged directly into Objective with pointers (aliases) displayed in the SharePoint document library.

ACTPLA is currently expanding eDevelopment to allow Building Certifiers to lodge their building approvals online. “This module will integrate nicely with the eDA component and provide access to approved plans and conditions of approval. Various trades involved in the construction phase such as builders, plumbers and electricians will avoid the need to fill out approximately 70 per cent of forms given that the information is already captured in ACTPLA’s database. ACTPLA is also trialling laptops for electrical and plumbing inspectors in the field. Providing remote access to the electronic systems is already saving significant travel time.”

“The effective use of contemporary technology to support our business needs has made an enormous difference to the way we support our customers,” said Jorritsma.

From the September-October edition of Image & Data Manager magazine To secure your copy, CLICK HERE