Do You Need Enterprise Content Management?

In today’s hectic business environment, most companies find themselves generating anything from generous (at best) to serious (at worst) amounts of data during the course of a single business day. This happens every business day, and the sheer amount of data threatens to create bottlenecks (at best) in the business, or overwhelm (at worst) a business so that it loses control of its internal systems. So can a business function without enterprise content management, and if not, what does it need to do?

In the short term, any business can appear to be functioning without enterprise content management. Within a project or a project team, the scale of activity can be kept under control for a time and business results can seem unaffected. But as soon as the scope of your business activities runs across more than a single team in parallel, and / or multiple projects one after the other in a series, obvious vulnerabilities will begin to show.

Take the relatively simple issue of how to manage all that paperwork generated by a project team while working on a single project. From the resumes acquired during the hiring process; the minutes of team meetings (draft and then later ratified); the piles of receipts generated from the simple logistics of getting people and information moved around; the clusters of project authorization requests and work orders; the invoices generated in the course of doing business; – everything about your volume of paperwork requires an increasing number of person hours just to stay on top of the project.

At what point do you or your team recognize that you have a paper problem? When the ‘In’ tray is full to bursting point? When the pleasant ambiance of the office is broken by clusters of archive boxes bursting with paperwork? Or when you have entire rooms dominated by rows of filing cabinets storing information that you do not actually need to access on a day to day basis, but that you cannot actually throw away?

If it is hard to find just one piece of paper in among all those archives, your company is losing time and money to inefficiency. If processing each piece of paper is taking up a lot of human resources and is too slow, this is eating into your competitiveness. If paperwork cross-references other paperwork that is not co-located or easily linked up with it, then you run the risk of operating in a state of incomplete information. It exists, but you just cannot find it. Worse still, if such inefficiencies result in somebody needlessly duplicating the work of others in your organization, then you are breeding wastefulness.

You are never going to completely do away with the need for paper throughout your business activities. You will always have paper and it will always play an important part in the life of your business. But isn’t there something that you could be doing right away to eliminate waste, increase efficiency and avoid bogging your workforce down in unproductive, low-vale tasks?

Just by taking one decisive course of action at one point in your business activities, you could achieve massive results. Imagine a paperless customer ordering system, eliminating the need for printers and ink for that stage of your business, and removing the need to print out thousands of pieces of paper each month.

Imagine giving each and every employee equal electronic access to any document within the business. It would no longer be the case that employees would need to be employed just to procure and serve the paperwork required by others. Neither would other employees need to waste precious time waiting for the paperwork to be served to them. They wouldn’t have to physically go and look for it themselves, either. They could just access the relevant information in a seamless, connected 360-degree facing system. Minimal delays, maximum efficiency.

Literally, physical documents are all over the place and even electronic documents can be anywhere from this server, or that memory stick, or that laptop sitting at home today, or in a colleague’s email inbox. If even a moderately well-paid employee in your organization spends any measurable amount of time looking for a document, then your business processes become increasingly expensive. Paper files can go missing, and similarly emails, spreadsheets, and text files not kept in any kind of orderly, centralized enterprise content management system.

Just one central document management system would enable everyone to find what they need and remove the severe bottlenecks that occur in any business. By almost eliminating the need for anyone to spend time searching for documents, your employees are instantly freed up to focus on just getting their jobs done. Managing the complete life-cycle of all documents, from their creation through to their destruction, is one of the most powerful efficiency bonuses that you can bring to your business.

You’d obviously take care to back up your central system, so that locating all of your company’s assets in one place did not become a weakness. You might also investigate your requirements for some kind of document version control system, and effective training for all staff on how to use the new enterprise content management system.

So by now the case is clear and obvious – your business needs enterprise content management in order to function smoothly, efficiently and productively – just taking into consideration the volume of paperwork that you are required to handle shows up an already pressing need.

Joomlagov.info Gives Worldwide View of Joomla for Government

Drupal may be the official content management system (CMS) of the White House, but Joomlagov.info is a tool that could help us investigate whether or not Joomla may be the government CMS of the entire world. This innovative project not only provides a global view of how widespread Joomla happens to be in the public sphere, it also serves as an example of the CMS as a world-scale information portal and also how Joomla allows an ambitious project such as this to be brought live very rapidly.

Using regional usage data from the Joomla Wiki, the developers of Joomlagov.info were able to extract enough information for nearly 1800 Joomla government websites. With sophisticated scripting the team ingested the data and was able to create a screen capture for each site. In order to facilitate site updates and ensure better management of such a large volume of mined data, the team trusted in the third-party content engine K2.

The results are fairly impressive. The website currently contains information for over 3200 Joomla-driven government portals, each of which can be browsed on a world map driven by the Google Maps API. From the top level view, the map displays numbered circles that represent the total Joomla instances in a given region. From these circles the user can drill down to smaller and smaller levels until reaching an individual website.

Despite the fairly large amount of data, the website manages to run with little perceptible lag. The development team achieved optimal performance with the site with minification and compression of the css/html and also by caching the site data to a size of roughly 60MB.

This website is effective for educational purposes, Joomla evangelism, demonstrating how to create global-scale subject matter maps with small-scale resources, and also just satisfying the pure curiosity of finding out where the Joomla hot-spots around the world happen to lie.

Creating a Better Workplace through Effective Activity Streams for Intranet Software

One of the most promising new trends for workplace collaboration is the adoption and eventual maturity of activity streams. At a basic level we can think of activity streams as the differentiators that turned Facebook and Twitter into two of the most widely used online services in the world. However, in the context of business intranet software activity streams have the potential to be much more than social news feeds transposed to the workplace.

Consultant Bertrand Duperrin laments that 2013 will likely not see enough integration of effective activity streams into digital intranets. Duperrin considers activity streams to have tremendous future value in workplace systems as they centralize information access and create greater potential to improve situational awareness. However, activity streams as they are currently implemented tend to be coupled too tightly with social networks and draw too much from email, which is already a primary alert.

Similarly, CMS Wire has observed that traditional workplace structure is breaking down: the distribution and proliferation of projects are not as well defined by process or by business awareness as they once were. Unless there is an accompanying shift in intranet system technology, this situation will contribute to increased chaos and inefficiency in enterprise.

Many social software vendors integrate personal newsfeed-inspired features into their products. This step is part of the necessary phase of acclimating employees with the new tools, though it is certainly not the only step needed. The continued evolution of the activity stream in the social intranet environment must see innovations such as “APIs allowing any system to publish activities into the activity stream,” going as far as integrateing mobile sensors and enterprise social graphs in order to allow employees to make sense of the emergent patterns that appear in the chaotic digital workplace.

DotNetNuke for Web Content Management

The most popular web content management systems (CMS) run upon a web stack that reflects their origins as having evolved out of predominant open source web-technologies. Apache, MySQL, and PHP (which generally run on Linux but are not constrained to it) are the foundation of the most widely-known CMS platforms because they were the most effective way for web enthusiasts to get working websites online as the internet was gaining mainstream popularity.

DotNetNuke is an odd player in the CMS world – it is runs on top of ASP.NET and uses SQL Server for its database backend. Using Microsoft proprietary technologies for a website is an option that many developers may have the tendency to shun, but DotNetNuke is fully-featured, available through a free community edition (with enterprise licensing options for official support and higher-grade features), and has been regarded as easy to use despite its many powerful features. As far as advantages that DotNetNuke offers in the world of CMS, we can examine its scalability, hosting options, and administration features.

Scalability

By running on top of Microsoft’s server stack, DotNetNuke inherently gives itself a wide range. It is more than suitable for the type of private, small-scale website that a developer would launch with Worpress, Drupal, or Joomla, but it is also more than suitable for integrating with a corporate intranet and interacting with an array of internal enterprise systems. For instance, DotNetNuke intertwines very nicely with Active Directory memberships and roles due to its foundation of ASP.NET.

Hosting Options

Though DotNetNuke runs on a foundation that is not as familiar to many hardcore web developers as the WAMP/LAMP stack, the proliferation of hosting providers that offer push-button installs and management of CMS instances tend to make the underlying web architecture a moot point. Similar to the major open source CMS offerings, there are a number of providers dedicated to hosting a DotNetNuke implementation.

Administration

Ultimately, an administrator is the true end-user of a CMS and the ability to manage it can be a make-or-break. Fortunately, DotNetNuke tends to get high marks in this regard. One reason for this is that it allows granular security settings, such as password protection for individual modules in a page. Another is because it allows an administrator to support multiple websites from one account.

Business Processes Compliance with SharePoint Automation

SharePoint is one of the most widespread and mature document management systems. When we discuss “collaboration,” what often comes to mind is the sharing of a document for revision and approval. This certainly does occur on the enterprise level, but the needs of business go far beyond this capability: often there is a complex workflow of interaction and triggers between people with different responsibilities and distributed among different departments. When these processes are left as informal, there are often lags in productivity cause by confusion, limited employee bandwidth, and resistance to the process. The advantage of SharePoint – and what makes it one of the top choices for enterprise – is the ability to automate processes so that they are codified in the very way in which personnel interact with documents. This is largely thanks to SharePoint’s built-in workflow capabilities and PowerShell administrator commands. Let us look at the example of a firm that has the requirement to send a periodic report to a third-party.

  • The document may require the approval of several different boards, each made up of an approved collection of members (who could even have assigned emergency delegates – just to give a more realistic sense of the complications involved).
  • These boards may be assembled from quality assurance, supply chain, finance, and any number of disparate groups.
  • Documents contain metadata that can signal when each board has signed off.
  • Email alerts can notify all the stakeholders at each point in the approval process.
  • When a user attempts to check in the document, its current state can be checked against whether or not it is on the list of approvers.
  • When all criteria have been met, the document can be safely checked in for final release, and can even be distributed to any number of key recipients or placed in a special repository.

The possibilities are nearly endless and can be adapted to all of the varied needs of a business.

Success with Document Management Systems for Software Projects

Almost every form of enterprise produces some form of work output that is usually document-based. This is especially true in the heavier forms of engineering such as aerospace, military, or medical in which the auditing and accounting requirements are high. No one wants to confront an ISO or federal audit and not be able to point to business procedures and work products that have been tested against a replicable quality process. In most commercial branches of software, especially web-enterprise and IT, documentation often takes the form of wikis or informal design files that are scattered around some agreed upon repository. Often if such documents exist they may even be stored in the code repository itself. In fact, in methodologies such as Agile or Extreme Programming there is sometimes the ethic that “the code is the documentation.” However, neither methodology formally shuns maintaining documentation but rather recommends keeping it spare. From these observations we can then ask what the proper balance a software firm should strike between heavy document management and none whatsoever. Documentation, especially when rapid development is employed, is especially susceptible to skew with the code and can become outdated quickly. Therefore it takes a well-designed document management system to maintain productivity. An effective way to manage modern software documentation is to break it down as followsPre-Development Documentation This phase is devoted to functional specifications, user stories, and relationship diagrams. The emphasis is on the high levels of what needs to be completed without locking in implementation details or sacrificing any of the flexibility needed to handle sudden requirements changes.

Documentation During Development Much of the documentation during the development phase can actually be generated by the framework or runtime with which the project is implemented. However, the products created in this phase still need storage and ease of access.   Post-Development Documentation Much of this documentation will be of the customer-facing variety: end-user documentation such as user interface manuals. This documentation should be easily accessed by management and non-technical teams.When the documentation is broken down in such a manner, it becomes spare, easy to sift through, and readily suited for any number of enterprise document management systems.

Is Social Intranet Software the Future of Workplace Communication?

Given the recent rise of online social media, it was only a matter of time before the “social” paradigm would start to influence enterprise intranet software. Many organizations have already worked features such as personal profiles and content sharing into their corporate communications. While it is possible to see this as a gimmick or a blatant attempt to capitalize on a market trend, social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn have large user bases for important, valid reasons; the ability to collaborate in highly personalized and emergent ways has value in the business world just as it does to private social media users.

The intersection of portals (the gateways of traditional intranets), team sites, and social sites is where the ideal benefits of social intranet are to be found. If execut ed correctly social intranet facilitates freedom, collaboration, discoverability, clear business context, and integration with company processes.

However, it is probably best to think of social intranet not so much as a replacement for the conventional approach but rather part of a gradual evolution. The reality of the business world’s adoption of social software is that it has augmented the capabilities of traditional solutions rather than making them obsolete entirely; legacy portals and content systems have adapted to integrate the new social features.

Indeed, a recent study from NetStrategyJMC has identified that there are five hurdles that social intranet must overcome in order to realize its potential:

  1. Lack of a sense of urgency for the transition.
  2. Lack of buy-in from senior management.
  3. Social solutions are not currently empowering employees enough.
  4. Digital environments are being fragmented rather than consolidated.
  5. Businesses are still concerned with management along organizational groups rather than operational groups.

Recapping the CMS Benefits

Back in the early days of the Internet, the only way to build a website was by learning HTML code and coding the website by hand. The website built is static. If content needs to be changed, only the coder or someone knowing some HTML code can change it. Nowadays, there is a newer, more efficient way to build a website. This is by using a content management system, or CMS. This has made website updating very easy and convenient to do. This article will discuss some of the benefits of using a content management system.

A lot of popular website are build on CMS. Take WordPress, for instance. You have the ability to update your WordPress site without knowing much about HTML. If you are the administrator, you can assign edit rights to certain individuals to give them the right the right to edit certain pages. No coding knowledge is requires. All you have to do is to open up a template or a page, and fill in the boxes.

CMS allows multiple people to work on the website at the same time. The main data is stored in a database on the server. Anyone with the proper login credentials can get to the back office to manage content. There is not need to to use file transfer protocol, or FTP, to upload changes to your server, as in the old days. Everything can be updated as long as you have access to the Internet.

The beauty of using a content management system is that you no longer need to rely on a single web developer to update your content and to make minor changes. In the past, if the web developer is not available, that means the website does not get updated until he got back. With CMS, different people can have edit rights to edit content, so updates are done more in a timely manner.

With CMS, it is easy to use plug-ins to add functionality to your website. Plug-ins are pre-made modules that you can just install with a click of a button. In the old days, you would need to hire a special programmer to program a script for you for the same functionalities.

CMS gives ordinary people the ability to manage and control their website better. CMS also has the advantage of tracking multiple versions of changes in the content. This is helpful because because there may be a time when you want to revert back to a previous version of your website. With a static HTML website, you would not be able to do that in a clean, uncumbersome way.

Content management systems are the way of the future in website design. No longer is website design only reserved for the programmers and professional web developer. Although they are still required to make major changes to the structure of the website, CMS allows the ordinary user to update and manage content easily and efficiently with very little effort.

SQL Injection and Content Management Systems: What Webmasters Should Know

Content management systems (CMS) are amazing and convenient platforms for creating high-quality, customizable websites in a short amount of time. The leading CMS software projects, WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal, all have built a great deal of useful technology on projects that started out small (for instance, Drupal evolved from a message board). They can be used to readily solve most of the common challenges faced by a fully-functioning website. However, the commonality of that technology means that CMS systems can become targets of well-known attack techniques. One such technique is SQL injection and it has especially become a common headache for WordPress site administrators.

SQL injection is a technique almost as old as databases. SQL can be considered the universal standard language for interacting with databases. It was created with the goal of making it easy to communicate with database systems without the need fo r programming. It was also made to resemble human language as much as possible (in fact in was originally called SEQUEL (Structured English Query Language). However, it has often been used by programmers to allow their programs to automatically communicate with databases as well. What often happens is that programmers take shortcuts with SQL that make development easier, but leave glaring security holes, and sometimes allow an attacker to insert entire queries to the database that overtake the system.

The popularity of WordPress has made it a common target for injection attacks. It is open source, written in PHP, and uses MySQL as its database. MySQL also happens to be one of the most used and well-known databases, meaning that its vulnerabilities are also well-known. Fortunately, the WordPress open source community generally works hard to provide updates and fix es to all compromised components whenever such a round of attacks occurs. This is why it is essential for a web administrator to constantly keep up with updates to all themes and plugins that are used to enhance WordPress and other CMS systems, and stay updated on the latest fixes needed to keep websites secure.

Best Practices for Implementing an Enterprise Social Intranet

Social Intranet Defined

A social intranet is defined as a network that utilizes social software to share an organization’s information with its members. Generally, this means that the social intranet is a place where employees can go to get things done within their own company.

Main Functions and Features

  • Integration
    The ability to integrate with current tools or the ability to add new tools to the program. An example would be the ability to add MS Outlook and email to integrate with the intranet.
  • Customization
    This is software that is flexible enough to be used by the organization to create custom modules. This can make interaction easier within the site. It allows for the customization of tools and resources that are used most often.
  • Collaboration
    This is an intranet feature that allows people to collaborate their work. An example would be a group of people working on one document.
  • Communication Channels
    This is a feature that allows corporations to promote a corporate culture in an interactive way.
  • Automation
    These are workflows and templates that can automate document creation. Alerts can be created to assist in learning about changes and new additions within an intranet.
  • Applications
    These are links to specific applications for associates to perform their duties.
  • Remote Access
    Users of the intranet are able to access content when they are away from the office.
  • Document Repository
    This allows users of an intranet to store and retrieve documents. It enables users to maintain and back up their data to prevent the loss of important documents.
  • Blog
    An intranet blog is used to provide timely information to employees, customers and business partners.
  • People Search
    This feature allows members of the intranet the ability to find employee contact information, specialty areas, personal interests and group memberships.
  • Enterprise Search
    This feature allows members of the enterprise intranet to search content.
  • Security
    Users and groups are able to share and send documents securely when utilizing an intranet.

Growth of Social Enterprise Intranets

Recent studies show that enterprise social networks are rising in popularity. They are becoming the main body of information repositories and communication hubs within enterprises. They are beginning to replace corporate intranets as the most comprehensive and reliable places to locate information.

According to a study published by APCO Worldwide and Gagen MacDonald, corporations using internal social tools experience higher levels of social engagement at work. These organizations have also reported the following information:

  • Sixty one percent of employees said social media tools make it easier to collaborate with their colleagues across vast distances.
  • Fifty eight percent of employees would rather work at a company that utilizes internal social tools.

The Benefits of Social Enterprise Intranets

There are many benefits to enterprise social intranets.

  • Workforce Productivity
    They help users to view and locate information quickly. This allows the ease of use for workforce applications that are relative to their roles and responsibilities in the workplace.
  • Time
    They allow many organizations to distribute information as needed. Employees can link to the information when they find it convenient. This is a lot less distracting than electronic mail.
  • Communication
    Enterprise social intranets are powerful tools for communication. They are used to communicate strategies that can have a global reach throughout the organization.
  • Web Publishing
    Enterprise social intranets allow corporate knowledge to be maintained and easily accessed. This is usually done through hypermedia and Web technologies.
  • Business Operations and Management
    They are being used as platforms for developing and deploying applications that support business operations and decisions throughout enterprises.
  • Cost Effectiveness
    Users are allowed to view data and information through web browsers instead of maintaining physical documents. This can save businesses money on printing and duplicating documents.
  • Enhances Collaboration
    Information is easily accessed by all authorized members. This enables teamwork.
  • Promotes A Common Corporate Culture
    Every member can view the same information throughout the enterprise intranet. This helps to promote a common culture throughout the company.
  • Immediate Updates
    Intranets make it possible to provide audiences with live changes so that they are kept current with corporate issues.
  • Supports a Distributed Computing Architecture
    An intranet can be linked to a management information system. An example would be a corporate time keeping system.

Common Issues Encountered When Implementing an Enterprise Social Intranet

Usually, poor planning is the most common problem when implementing a social intranet. Too many organizations rely on free, open source solutions. These organizations give little thought to the needs and requirements of their users. Poor planning causes the user problems when trying to find information.

To overcome these issues, companies should list their needs in an enterprise social intranet before designing their systems.

Main Processes to Cover When Planning an Enterprise Social Intranet

Overall, a successful enterprise social intranet encapsulates corporate flair and spirit. The use of innovative and fun features should be implemented to achieve the goal of having a good enterprise social intranet.

Additionally, support and accessibility are important features to think about during the planning phase. If properly planned, an enterprise social intranet will add value to a company. Listed below are additional characteristics that will help to create a successful enterprise social intranet.

Navigation

  • The main navigation should appear consistently on each page.
  • Navigation should be intuitive and easy.

Design

  • Companies should have clean, engaging home page designs. Additionally, all home page designs should be aesthetically attractive to its users.
  • A combination of good and effective graphics should be part of the design plan.
  • Well-written text, a suitable text volume and links should be present on each page of the design.
  • There should be a good contrast between the text and the background of the design.
  • Wherever appropriate, add audio and video to the design.

Promotion

Finally, it’s important to promote the use of an enterprise social intranet. Once everyone knows how to operate it, employees will use the system to expedite your business effectively.
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References:
http://www.gagenmacdonald.com/downloads/3rd-Annual-Employee-Engagement-Research-Study.pdf
http://socialenterprisetoday.com/blog/posts/social-intranets-are-on-the-rise/
http://www.forbes.com/sites/fredcavazza/2011/11/30/from-social-intranets-to-collaboration-ecosystems/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intranet_portal#Main_features
http://socialmediatoday.com/prescient/441295/are-social-intranets-more-lovable
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