Vela VKE adopts SharePoint 2010 in Intervate's first implementation of new platform

Fri, 2010/07/09

Enterprise Content Management specialist provider Intervate has completed its first Microsoft SharePoint 2010 implementation, and what is believed to be one of the first in South Africa, with the rollout of the solution to one of the country's leading consulting engineering firms, Vela VKE.

“This was a remarkable project for us because it allowed us to evaluate the capabilities of Microsoft's new platform in a real-world situation, while putting our own skills and preparations for the release of SharePoint 2010 to the test,” comments Marc Fletcher, Sales & Marketing Director of Intervate Cape Town. “The capabilities and features of the new platform provide customers with some very powerful features that we have managed to use to full effect for the Vela VKE project, with additional services to come on line in a phased manner.”

With around 500 staff members at 12 locations across South Africa, Vela VKE will benefit tremendously from the centralised content database that introduces levels of standardisation and control that the company had never before seen.

“We had identified the need for a knowledge management system that would enable us to share, capture and access this in an intuitive, seamless way right across the organisation,” says Ian van Dyk, Vela VKE's Chief Information Officer. “Our previous intranet system wasn't as well used as we would have liked and therefore did not promote the sharing of knowledge. With SharePoint 2010, however, the intellectual capital with the company is available and accessible to all staff.”

Van Dyk explains that knowledge and industry experience are the commodities in which Vela VKE trades and that having this available across the organisation will lead to improved productivity and efficiencies if engineers are able to tap into a larger knowledge pool. “Sharing expertise and knowledge with 500 engineers is far more efficient that restricting that to only the people in your immediate environment,” he adds.

Fletcher says the project implementation was straight forward, even with Vela VKE's decision close to the project end to upgrade to the 2010 version after the initial project had been scoped for SharePoint 2007. As little customisation had been required for the initial implementation, he says the upgrade to the latest version was relatively easy.

Corporate Social networking-type functionality is seen as one of the significant enhancements to SharePoint 2010 that will promote increased use and adoption of the system, while the use of ‘document libraries' facilitates information management and the search functions assist with the process of finding the information once stored.

“Project Pulse on SharePoint 2010 represented the culmination of months of preparations, in the form of workshops, training classes, online training, sandbox installations and demonstrations,” comments Troy Gerber, a Director of Intervate Cape Town and the lead SharePoint Consultant on Project Pulse. “It was fantastic to be finally deploying the solution for a customer in a live environment where we could see the value that SharePoint 2010 brings to an enterprise.”

Van Dyk says the social networking element is crucial to staff being able to quickly and easily pinpoint areas of expertise in the company, while also promoting use of the system by younger generations of engineers who come to expect that level of interaction.

“Not only does this allow the rest of the firm to get to know other engineers in the organisation, but also introduces an element of peer review because information, skills and experience are now available and visible to all staff,” he says.

Danie Gordon, Productivity Solutions Manager at Microsoft South Africa, says “Delivering on Vela VKE’s requirements for knowledge management on our latest platform is a testimony to Intervate’s execution and strong partnership with Microsoft.”

Fletcher concludes that additional phases of the project will, in time, include building integration into Vela VKE's financial management and project data management systems and hopefully other line of business systems putting SharePoint 2010 at the heart of Vela VKE’s business functions.

“With our first SharePoint 2010 implementation under the belt, we can now share the learning’s and benefits with other customers and thereby encourage them to upgrade to or install this latest version's enhanced functionality provided in this truly enterprise solution,” he says.