By Peter Meekes, Business Solutions Architect at HSO.
A popular approach of traditional SharePoint service providers to set up a new SharePoint environment is based on the process of a case, instead of a customer or departmental approach. In essence SharePoint is set up in such a way that it enables the customer organisation to work together on documents based on a predefined process, the “Case”. Sites, documents and workflows are developed in which the case can and must be managed. The critical success factor in this approach is the ability that every person who has to contribute to the case can easily and rapidly access the correct documents the moment the person needs it, wherever he needs it. The fact that SharePoint excels at this makes this approach not only popular, but also highly successful!
Giving access to documents in a controlled, easy and efficient manner is probably the best feature of SharePoint. But this ability highly rests on the users adding correct metadata. Metadata is “data over data”. Extra data that has to be entered by the user when a document is uploaded to SharePoint. Based on this metadata a document can be securely stored and, more importantly easily found when needed.
People working in the Dynamics AX world will recognize these predefined cases as AX-cases, but mainly as (subtypes of) sales orders, quotes, projects, service calls, calculations etc. etc. The main difference being working on structured data instead of documents. In Dynamics AX the processes are at the heart of the application and if needed completed by workflows. This explains why HSO has a strong focus on structured data. Also when it comes to documents. It may come as no surprise that we at HSO have a strong focus on the structured data as the base upon which documents are created. When possible we try to administer processes and workflow on a data level instead of documents. This is because fully management of data is much easier on data compared to documents. If for instance a document is saved locally, effective management is gone.
Even with this focus on data it is clear that the number and size of documents is progressively increasing. The formats of documents are also more and more divers (word, excel, e-mail, pdf, pictures, etc.). To get or stay in control of documents it is obvious that new technological innovations are necessary. It is clear that Dynamics AX and file shares will not be able to cope on its own.
At HSO we recognized this problem and created a solution by which documents can be managed by SharePoint and automatically attached to the “case” in Dynamics AX or vice versa. This is done in the most intelligent manner in which:
- The user is not bothered anymore with having to enter metadata. The solution does that for him.
- Storage of documents is fully managed by and in SharePoint and the SharePoint administrator.
- Document are consistently renamed according company rules and based on the metadata. The original file name is stored as metadata.
- For “cases”, customers, vendors, order, (internal) projects, customer objects etc. internal and external collaboration work spaces (sites) are created in which smart queries make sure that all relevant documents are automatically displayed. The user does not have to search anymore!
- Once the retention period has passed documents will be disposed in a controlled way.
The HSO document management solution is the best combination of the best features SharePoint and Dynamics AX have to offer.
Combined with the HSO connector the advantages of the solution can also be applied to other business applications like Dynamics CRM. The HSO Connector makes sure that relevant data is synchronized between Dynamics AX and Dynamics CRM. This makes it possible that the same document management features can be applied from both applications.
The business value of the HSO document management solution is evident. Companies will be able to get control over the ever increasing number, diversity and size of company documents and efficiently and effectively align them with business processes. Document management is not a burden and not only a cost but supports employees in their responsibilities and tasks. This can only be profitable!