Open Text Seminar on Using SharePointAbout three years ago, Open Text made a big decision. It was what, Ed Durst -- Portfolio Manager for the company's Microsoft Solutions Group -- called "a big bet on Microsoft SharePoint". Three years later, nearly every transaction they do with a customer has some SharePoint (MOSS) element to it. That big bet seems to have paid off. Let's see how.

To educate current and potential customers Open Text offers webinars (or seminars if you like) covering how they see SharePoint functioning in the enterprise content management business environment.

Next Tues the 17th they are holding the second of two such webinars. The first was all about their entire solution set for SharePoint. This second one is specific to the Case Management Framework for Microsoft SharePoint. We wanted to understand more about this framework and what the webinar will cover. Ed Durst gave us the goods.

The Open Text SharePoint Relationship

Back up three years and get some perspective here. When the decision was made to make that "big bet" on SharePoint, Open Text let loose several groups including R&D, Sales and Marketing and even some top level executives to start playing with SharePoint and develop some potential solutions. They didn't care what, they just wanted to see what could be done.

Solutions resulted that enhanced the user experience for SharePoint users, provided SharePoint with Archiving and Record Management functionality and eased SharePoint deployment pains.

All that hard work has led them into a strategic partnership with Microsoft (a Depth Management Partner), which includes a cozy office on Microsoft's campus and access to the SharePoint roadmap. (Of course, try as we may, Durst would not divulge any SharePoint 14 secrets -- none we weren't already privy to anyways. We know...it's very disappointing...)

The Open Text mantra regarding Microsoft and SharePoint specifically is "better together". SharePoint with a full blown Enterprise CMS backend is better than either solution on its own, so the thinking goes.

But isn't SharePoint an enterprise content management system on its own, we asked? According to Durst, SharePoint definitely has the "enterprise" part of ECM down pat. And all the evidence proves it.

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The Six Pillars of MOSS (see our SharePoint review)

SharePoint deployments across the enterprise may not have been done with an enterprise strategy in mind, but it is certainly ingrained in many departments within the enterprise. Users have come to love the SharePoint interface. It's easy to use and provides them with many of the capabilities they need to do their jobs. But it is missing some big features that are required in most organizations today.

Hence the need for a case management framework for SharePoint.

The Case Management Framework for SharePoint

SharePoint deployments have a tendency to spiral out of control. Open Text provides some best practices and tools that will help streamline these deployments.

With the Case Management Framework for SharePoint they provide three key features that will help organizations to manage SharePoint effectively:

  1. Automated creation of SharePoint sites
  2. Collaboration and Document Management
  3. Automated Site Closure with Records Management integration

If users want to keep working with the tools they know so well -- and SharePoint has become one of them -- Open Text wants to ensure they can do so while at the same time ensuring the organization is keeping accurate records and not enabling the proliferation of abandon sites.

What is Case Management?

The term "case management" threw us off a little, so we wanted to understand what a case was and how this framework is used.

A case is basically a grouping of information that a user works on. It could be a legal brief, a customer, a location or a query. Essentially, the user is pulling together all the information they need into a single location to work on this "case".

For most users, what is the location they generally use to store this information? For many, it's a SharePoint site. What Open Text does is provide the ability to automate the creation of these sites including SharePoint site creation, security, subscriptions of information that may be across sites and record keeping.

A Case in Point

Examples are always useful. So consider that a user has a SharePoint site that includes a dashboard that shows them all the things need to know about their case. All the content they create and use is stored directly in the SharePoint site while they are actively working on the case. This enables them to take advantage of all the native SharePoint capabilities.

Once the case has been completed, all the information is classified and placed in an Open Text records management system and the site is closed down. It's automation of the SharePoint site life cycle -- something that doesn't tend to happen in many SharePoint implementations.

This entire process is based on a package of development code that includes an SDK and sample application to help you get started with the framework. The solution hides the intricacies of the relationship between SharePoint and Open Text, while leveraging Open Text archival and certified records management capabilities.

Join the Webinar to Learn More

Now you've got the basic ideas. If this is your cup of tea, you can jump on the upcoming webinar. It's entitled: Microsoft SharePoint on Your Own Terms: Gaining More Operational Efficiency and will run for one hour next Tuesday, Jan 17th.

Ed Durst is going to lead the event. He'll be demonstrating the framework and talking about best practices for working with SharePoint in the enterprise. You can sign-up here.