Success Stories

Automation of document flow in a large design company


Summary

A large European project company faced the problem of the automation of document flow involving several levels of access rights. The work cycle on each project is three to five years in length, as a huge amount of work and complementary documentation with many versions and different access rights is generated. In addition, the customer needed a convenient solution for teamwork on documents, including offline collaboration.
We offered a solution based on the SharePoint Online platform that gave a complete solution to the customer’s tasks. As a result, the project company received an appropriate and flexible solution that provided fast and accurate searches of huge collections of documents, facilitated the work of specialists and enabled employees to work with projects offline without violating safety regulations.

Customer
A large European energy project company for long-term projects with an average project life of three to five years. The number of employees was approximately 1,000 people.

Problem
Prior to the introduction of automation, the project company used the DropBox file storage system, involving a “folder in the cloud” to store documents and work with them. This made it impossible or inconvenient to work concurrently, to search or to create new documents based on templates in DropBox. As a result, documents were lost, and conflicts arose over later and earlier versions of document, and experts spent a significant amount of time in solving these problems.

Project goals
To suggest a solution enabling the customer to store huge collections of documents and to use a quick search function.
The following functions were envisaged:
● viewing of the documents and their versions for each project;
● checking the availability of equivalent documents in the system when downloading new ones;
● finding documents using the related information search and metadata;
● generating templates (creating documents based on specific templates);
● teamwork on documents;
● differentiation of access rights to documents, in accordance with security requirements.
In addition, it was necessary to develop and implement applications that would enable employees to work with the system offline, for example, those on business trips or working remotely.

What did we do?
We implemented the required solution in the cloud, based on the SharePoint Online platform. The result was a completely managed, controlled and configurable system, unlike the DropBox file storage system, which is a simple folder in the cloud.

The SharePoint Online implementation automated the document flow process and made the work with project documentation appropriate for the company employees.
Due to the use of the SharePoint Online settings, any loss of documents was eliminated, and any version of a document could be accessed promptly. A search based on a description or metadata could be performed instantly.
The company employees began to understand the essence of the document work process using:
● a search;
● document tags (addition of metadata);
● document templates.
Other functions were also implemented to ensure the possibility of teamwork on documents offline. Previously, when working concurrently offline on the same document, employees could not be sure which version had been saved, as the latest version of a document replaced a previous file with the same name. After automation, the system either merged the changes into a single document or notified the user about the conflict, leaving the final decision to his or her