Archive for Enterprise Shared Application Services

CorasWorks as the GoTo Application Platform for Your Private Cloud

There is a lot of chatter about the public cloud these days.  But, the data tells us that the majority of enterprises are actually investing heavily in “Private Clouds” (see article about Gartner Private Cloud report). They are starting with efficient virtualized infrastructures and moving up the stack to “infrastructure platforms as a service” (IPAAS).  The reality is that the new cloud technologies are enabling the enterprise to get the cost benefits they seek on their own without losing control.  So, the private cloud trend is accelerating and maturing.

This article talks about the next step in the Private Cloud stack for the enterprise.  Now that they are gaining this highly efficient infrastructure platform, what are they doing about the application tier of the enterprise stack.  For most, they are still following legacy approaches based upon custom development.  80% of the applications are based upon .Net or Java.  Largely these are the “mission critical” apps.  Yet, all enterprises have a huge set of applications that are now referred to as “business critical”.  These applications are less transactional and more about collaboration and work management processes.  These are the apps driving the programs, processes, projects, requests, tasks, analytics, collaborative work that drive the bigger decisions and work in enterprises.  This is where CorasWorks plays.

So, if you are an enterprise company, and want to leverage your private cloud to address your business critical application needs – what direction do you go?

Let’s look at the status quo scenario.  You invest in your Private Cloud.  This provides you with an efficient, scalable, and stable infrastructure.  You open it up to your horde of custom development professionals (internal IT and external vendors).  They start custom building all of your business critical applications, as well as, porting or building your mission critical applications.  Or, you start buying COTS applications from third party vendors and loading them all onto the shared infrastructure and learning to support them.  Basically, those organizations following this approach are using the same application delivery paradigm that the enterprise has followed for the last 20 years.

So, you gain infrastructure efficiency, but, your application delivery capacity is the same as it always has been.  What if you could gain similar efficiencies up the stack at the application tier?  Let’s look at a CorasWorks enhanced alternative…

CorasWorks provides an integrated work management application platform that runs on Microsoft SharePoint.  It enables you to buy and build a very broad range of business critical applications.  Yet, it enables you to change your approach to drive a new level of effectiveness at the application tier.

Okay, so let’s first talk about the application stack (the what) before we talk about the new value drivers that CorasWorks brings to the enterprise.

  • You start with your wonderful Private Cloud infrastructure as above.  You get the same efficiency gain – that is good.
  • On top of this you deploy SharePoint (say SharePoint 2010 or SharePoint 2013). This gives you the core information worker infrastructure and the base capabilities for content management. But, before you revert to custom development on this platform, let’s keep going.
  • Then, you drop in the CorasWorks v11 Application Platform.  This contains the enabling work management application software – all of the  actual complied code.
  • On top of this you start to deploy all of the business critical applications that you need.  You buy then from CorasWorks or partners or you build them using the CorasWorks platform.

How does this change things in the application tier?

  • The CorasWorks application platform is designed to enable “builders” (our word for the next gen developer using configuration vs. coding) to create applications or customize existing applications without new compiled code – just using the browser.  This means that your SharePoint environment and infrastructure remain unusually pure and stable.
  • Talented web developers can go to town doing very cool, jazzy, and business rich things, leveraging client-side CSS, Javascript, JQuery, XML, XSLT 2.0 etc. but with a structured server-side API and no new compiled code.
  • The business critical applications range from simple work management applications, to complex composite applications even integrating with external enterprise systems and public cloud applications, and, broad and deep inter-connected, distributed business systems.  So, you have a broad range of supported applications within this one, stable environment.
  • The environment is an enterprise, multi-tenant environment.  Many apps of different types across the environment based upon a common platform.  A couple times a year you upgrade CorasWorks and keep going.
  • It is an OpenApp system.  Any employee, vendor, or CorasWorks can come in and modify an application (if allowed) or create a new one or enhance and extend an existing one without a) waiting for a change by an application vendor (comparative to COTS apps) or b) being dependent on some custom development professional to modify the code and then get it deployed and supported.
  • Business users are empowered to make simple, but important and relevant, process/application changes with proper training vastly reducing ongoing requirements gathering, development, and support costs and accelerating the positive impact of business innovation and continuous improvement.
  • The applications and their design patterns are extensively re-usable. Many would think that an HR Staffing Request app, a Manufacturing Materials Storage app or a Legal Organizational Conflict of Interest app are very different applications.  In this new app platform world you find out that they are all based upon a common “request management” design pattern and easily repeatable reusing existing generic apps.  This has a vast reduction in costs, risks, and increase in stability and supportability.
  • All of the applications in this next generation work environment are natively integrated.  They are all based upon CorasWorks and running within the SharePoint based work environment.  CorasWorks has the unique capability to bridge common structural barriers of SharePoint to enable inter-connection of applications – natively.
  • Because the cost of change (new apps, integration, enhanced features, process changes) is so much smaller and easier, your enterprise business becomes more agile and more innovative.
  • Based upon the above, you can now standardize your application service delivery operations leveraging re-usable generic app catalogs, application design patterns, portable features, agile delivery processes, self-service and empowerment, and native integration (reducing enterprise duplication).

The Result

CorasWorks’ customers have been realizing the benefits of the above for more than 10 years at the application level.  The difference over the last few years is that the ramp to Private Clouds has provided a more efficient and scalable operating environment.  It has also started driving a common view of the stack – folks are looking to do at the application tier what they are doing at the infrastructure tier.  We are now seeing this full stack approach using CorasWorks being implemented in the largest enterprises (100,000+ users) down to small 15 person companies (that yes have a very scalable efficient Private Cloud infrastructure).

In the status quo scenario the enterprise is not getting the benefits at the application level of their private cloud.  Their progress gets stuck in the same old paradigm.  By adding CorasWorks and SharePoint to the stack they change the outcome.  The result is a reduction in the cost and risk of application delivery.  It drives a much, much greater degree of re-usability and re-purposability and therefore application delivery efficiency.  And, it enables organizations to be far more agile with their business critical applications, which is where the innovation and continuous learning and improvement really makes a difference.

Note that I am not saying that we will address all of your business critical application needs.  But, assume that we can address half or just a third of this vast and growing part of your application portfolio within the above model.  It makes it the GoTo platform – if the app fits then it is the way to go.  What value does that create for your enterprise?


A Top 10 Pharmaceutical Leverages CorasWorks for Program Management of $200M Global Product Serialization Initiative


The pharmaceutical industry is going through a significant change in manufacturing and supply chain management driven by emerging global government mandates for them to “serialize” their products.  Each unit of product must have a unique ID that can be tracked through the full supply chain to the end user customer. This is to insure quality, to enable tracing, and also, to suppress the use of counterfeit drugs (estimated at 10% of the worlds’ drugs).  The mandates have been coming out across the globe over the last few years.  The US is on the verge of putting their “mandate” in place this year.  (Click here to learn more about pharmaceutical product serialization.)

In this article I will look at how our customer, one of the top 10 pharmaceuticals, used CorasWorks to create a Program Management solution that is used to manage their $200M global product serialization manufacturing change program.  I will also address how the process worked as this story is a great example of how customers are able to achieve breakthrough results without the risks, costs, and time delays that are common for most enterprise application projects.

The Challenge

This customer is a very large manufacturer of pharmaceuticals – one of the worlds largest.  These mandates from around the world are requiring them to update all of their manufacturing lines to support the unique ID serialization requirements for each unit that is produced.  Different mandates from different countries/regions also have different requirements.  This process will cost our customer 200 million dollars over the next five years.  They will need to upgrade more than 100 different manufacturing lines in 400 different projects around the world in more than 20 countries.

The objective of our customer was to be able to centrally manage the program across the globe.  They had a strategic team in place to drive this initiative globally.   They had very precise requirements such as:

  • They needed top down management visibility and the ability to then drill down in details.
  • They wanted to be able to see all of the projects by a) defined KPI’s for the b) defined stages of work.
  • Their process requires that each local manager provide updates on each project each month.
  •  Most projects actually had two workstreams, so two different updates, for a total of 400 managers providing updating.
  • They wanted the ability for comments for each update.
  • These updates drive the KPI’s from the bottom, up the stack.
  • There were very complex KPI roll-up calculations so that KPIs would cascade upward from the base project to the top of the Mandate, Geography, Country, Product, etc.
  • The customer then wanted to be able to see where everything stood by different pivots such as by Mandate, by Country, by Product, by Workstream, by Line within in a real time, interactive interface.

The customer had detailed, application specific requirements for the Program Management system. Yet, time was short.  Some projects were already under way, so they wanted the system relatively quickly targeting about 4 months. They had evaluated options of custom development however the cost, risk of delivery, and length of time to delivery deterred them from this option.  They also looked at leveraging other owned Project Portfolio Management systems, however, they needed very precise features and in effect this made the use of these systems as risky as custom development.

So, the challenge was how to:

  • get a Program Management system that met their very precise requirements
  • in a relatively short time frame
  • at the lowest cost possible and without “breaking the bank”
  • with an acceptable level of risk of delivery
  • that would support changes as the program evolved and lessons were learned
  • and that was acceptable to IT today and supportable over the 5 years of the program.

The Solution

This customer uses SharePoint 2010.  In fact, they are in the Top 100 of SharePoint deployments supporting more than 80,000 users across four global regions.  They have adopted an Enterprise Shared Services Environment (ESSE) model in which they have a common infrastructure that is shared across all global geographies, all business groups, and, all employees.  They have three different farms (server environments) for different categories of work.

  • The Enterprise Shared Services Environment for those applications that do not require any custom compiled code.
  • A Custom Environment that allows custom code but is much more expensive to manage.
  • A Regulated Environment that is certified for regulated processes and information such as Clinical Trials.

They have been a CorasWorks customer since 2004.  The CorasWorks  v11 Work Management Platform is part of the infrastructure on the Enterprise Shared Services Environment available to all 80,000+ users.  The complex requirements of this Program Management application were more sophisticated than just about any other application running on ESSE.  However, they believed that it might be possible to build and deploy it on ESSE.  This would mean that it would have to be created without requiring custom coding, just leveraging the CorasWorks Work Management Advanced Configuration Tools.  If it worked, it would also mean that they could meet all of the challenge criteria noted above.

Working with the customers’ Service Delivery Team for the manufacturing group (that delivers applications to that group on ESSE) we did a quick pilot to simulate the applications’ operating requirements in the ESSE environment.  This was successful and the business customer decided to go with CorasWorks software and CorasWorks Professional Services to build the application on the ESSE environment.

This was a joint application development project.  The Service Delivery Team had built other applications using CorasWorks within ESSE so they were familiar with the core capabilities of CorasWorks.  They were able to work closely with CorasWorks on the design, the requirements, the testing, and changes.  They also handled the interactions with the business group.  The teams approach was an Agile methodology with the objective of having an early working solution in place, that would be built through sprints with user input.  In sum, it was a highly collaborative project between CorasWorks, the customers’ Service Delivery Team, and the business user group.

The Result

The base application was deployed for initial testing within 60 days.  The ability to quickly get the base application with a full information data set up and running was important for real time user input and changes.  It went through a series of sprints for additional phases and changes.  In addition, the application was re-factored three times in order to accommodate the changes and stay within the specified end user performance limits.

In sum, within 5 months the system went from development to enterprise production within the ESSE environment. Comparing the results to the challenge criteria stated above, the system was delivered:

  • meeting the specified technical requirements and the ones that came up through ongoing changes
  • almost within the time frame (it actually took an extra month to finish the project due to elapsed time delays with changes, user testing, and data loading) – but the project was still 2x faster than alternatives had been estimated
  • within the specified budget – that was about half of the initial estimate for competitive alternatives
  • the risk was mitigated by the known factor of CorasWorks capabilities on the ESSE environment
  • the resulting system is fully supportable by the customers’ Service Delivery Team since it is built on the open standard CorasWorks platform
  • and IT was already supporting ESSE and CorasWorks and will continue to support it as part of their global ESSE environment

My Wrap Up

This customer now has the capability to manage the global product serialization program.  They are in a great position to work towards success.  The program, an important one for them (remember counterfeiting is 10% of drugs), is also very important to the health and safety of all of us.  By investing to put the proper, well specified, program management system in place to support their defined process they have decreased their risks and increased their probability of success because they are providing a lot more visibility which drives greater accountability for results.

The General Challenge.  Most business-driven Program Management solutions are very custom.  It is the nature of the beast.  It is also a key to competitive differentiation.  Your programs/initiatives tend to be your big value creating or risk reducing activities.  But, it is very difficult and almost counter-productive for a vendor to try and build a general product for this purpose.  There are some COTS Program Management systems, but, if you try to use them for a significant program like this one you’d have to basically rip them apart to deliver on a typical set of requirements.  The unique flexibility of the CorasWorks Work Management platform makes it a very effective way to deliver on these custom Program Management applications.  As shown in this example, effectively they used a COTS product (CorasWorks) on an existing enterprise shared services (ESSE) platform to create a very custom Program Management solution without requiring any new custom compiled code.


IDIQ Task Order Management as a Shared Service on SharePoint

We are doing a lot of work enabling Federal Contractors with IDIQ Task Order Management solutions.  When we first got going with this solution a year ago we focused on the IDIQ/GWAC center that was managed at the Corporate level.  Very quickly it started to integrate with the Capture and Proposal work.  Then, it moved out to serve the needs of the business groups.  Today, we are enabling most of our customers in a Shared Services model powered by CorasWorks within a SharePoint work environment.  I’ll talk about this.

Larger Federal Contractors usually have a Proposal Center.  They may have a corporately managed IDIQ/GWAC center.  The problem is that these capabilities only address the top of the pyramid.  The rest of work, that happens at the Business Group level, is usually very, very ad hoc using the tools of email and excel.

The nirvana is to get each group what they need but to do it in a way that enables corporate standards and operational leverage.  For years, organizations have lived with a pendulum that swings between centralization and decentralization.  With each swing somebody loses.  Effectively, our Shared Services model strikes a working balance that supports both centralization and local optimization.

With our Shared Services model we usually go through a few phases of adoption as follows.

First, we usually take care of the Corporate level.  This entails putting in or augmenting the Proposal Center and often adding in the core IDIQ Task Order Management capability.  We then integrate the IDIQ work into the Proposal System and other enterprise systems including CRM (often Deltek GovWin CRM), their Contract Administration system, and HR recruiting systems.

We then enable corporate to serve up IDIQ Task Order Management to the business groups.  The key is that each business groups needs to have it slightly their way.  Their needs often differ from Corporate (usually much deeper where they have to do most of their own proposals and be concerned about downstream work – after they’ve won), between business groups, and, even between IDIQs (like the reporting requirements and the Partners they are working with).

Accordingly, what we provide is a standard, base IDIQ Task Order Management solution.  This can then be cloned and customized to meet the needs of each business group and even down to the IDIQ level.  Yet, it is all part of your enterprise shared application service and also of the shared SharePoint work environment.  So, corporate capabilities can be standardized and made available as part of the Shared Service to the business groups across the enterprise.  Examples are Proposal Requests and Management, Gate Reviews, Supporting Processes (such as HR Staffing Requests and Conflict of Interest checks), Standards (CMMI, PMO, Partner Onramping), and Knowledge Repositories (such as Pricing, Forms, and Past Performance that are shared with security and in context).

It sum, it becomes a standardized, integrated, yet, distributed and locally optimized system.  You might say that it is a system of systems.  The key is that Corporate is not completely in control.  Corporate has enabled the business groups to have flexibility.  The business groups can optimize the way they work, but, do it within constraints that maintain control and the ability to centrally manage the shared infrastructure.  It is truly amazing what results you can achieve when you hit the right balance between the needs of business groups and corporate.

With this shared services model you get the best of both worlds: central control and standardization, but, the ability for the business groups to get what they need to optimize their work.  And, of course in this model the cost is far lower to support and deliver what users need across the board.

If you visit our Federal Contractor micro-site and review the case studies you’ll get a sense of how this approach has worked with different customers of different sizes and with different solutions.



See additional articles for IDIQ Task Order Management in this blog.

Visit CorasWorks IDIQ Task Order Management for product information.

SharePoint 2012 Conference: Let us not be distracted from Business Value

Last week we attended the SharePoint 2012 conference.  There was much new to see: SharePoint 2013, Office 365, Yammer, cloudy stuff, a bunch of new ISV tools, and hybrid and client-side development.  All of this is cool, maybe fun, and, as a technologist dripping in SharePointism, I find it great.  However, when you get to talking to customers, you get brought back to reality.  In fact, in many of my conversations, there appeared to be a backlash.  This was summed up best by a senior IT manager relating what he told his Microsoft rep “We are not a social enterprise; we are a business.”  Or, another person said, “Really, in the new world an Announcement list is an application; give me a break.”  What you are seeing, hearing, and feeling is the reflection of the two views of SharePoint: one is SharePoint as an application for collaboration, the other looks at SharePoint as an Application Plaform.

It is time for my “Emperor’s New Clothes” article…

Microsoft would love everyone to adopt Office 365/Yammer and subscribe and pay monthly for everything Microsoft.  They would love code developers to build lots of little apps to be more Apple-esque.  It feels both hot and cool, and it means a new, recurring revenue stream for Microsoft along with a defense against pirating.

However, for most enterprises it is just a distraction.  Those that are deeply committed to SharePoint, are committed because they see it as an application platform and they have invested to leverage it as such.  They see SP as an environment that they can leverage to build out their business applications that are inter-connected.  One that supports incremental improvements as they learn how to get their people to work better together.  One that they can control – which today and in the future means On Premise or a Private Cloud.  They want reduced complexity.  They want business groups to leverage it to be more productive with real business applications.  They want to use it to consolidate applications (Saas, Point solutions, other platforms) and thus save money, reduce complexity and risk, establish standards and best practices, and, create operational leverage.

Still, probably 50% of the SharePoint customer base is only at the base level of the SharePoint value continuum. They see SharePoint as a collaborative application – team sites, portals, Intranets, and, documents. This segment is at the greatest risk of defecting to Zimbra (email) and Alfresco and Jive and DropBox. Oddly, what Microsoft is doing is introducing a discontinuous innovation that will force this segment to choose.  There are lots of choices when you are at that level with SharePoint.  It is a commoditized part of the market.

Over the last 10 years CorasWorks has evolved from a focus on the base level (SP for collaboration) to leveraging SP as an application platform.  We are committed to the enterprise customer and most of our customers are firmly in the On Premise/Private Cloud camp.  We of course are driving the business value hard for our customers.  For instance, during the SharePoint conference, over at the CorasWorks booth we were showing a broad range of hard-hitting business solutions.  We had at our fingertips demos of about 30 Work Management solutions and 20 custom solutions that we have build for specific Industries and Business Functions.  All of these run on our one CorasWorks v11 Solution Platform and all are done with no coding so our customers can do powerful things without managing rogue code.  Thus, our conversations were focused on the busines challenges and solutions.

Let the Bifurcation Occur

There has always been a split between the camps of SharePoint as a collaborative app and SharePoint as an application platform.  I think that SharePoint as an app platform on premise is a winner and the momentum is growing as it gets more standardized vs. relying on custom development.  I believe that because of the SP2013 offerings, the bifurcation is just clearer, and that, you will see a clarification of strategy within the enterprise.  Most committed enterprises will deepen their commitment to SharePoint for its use as an application platform – it is clearly the best choice for this path at this time.  My bet is that over the next few years the average enterprise will simply become capable of becoming their own Enterprise Shared Application Services (ESAS) provider, in their own Private Cloud.  The enterprise will drive its own path because the technology curve has enabled it to do so and the business value far outweighs any incremental costs.

In fact, I believe that we are only at the beginning of a new curve of value, when enterprises start to figure out how to truly get their people to work better together.  If you spend your time talking to business managers like I do, you realize that they just don’t have practical applications at their fingertips to get the work done. There is alot more to do…

So for those that are committed to SharePoint as an application platform, just don’t be distracted by these new offerings and keep on adding business applications on premise and adding value to your organization.  By doing this, you continue to accelerate your business value today and you will be building a foundation for great innovation of your enterprise in the future.

10 Fundamentals to Know When Delivering Apps in a CorasWorks-powered Environment

I’ve spent a lot of time with customers over the last year working with the internal people who are delivering apps to business users.  You are out there busily building apps, setting standards, listening, supporting and connecting things. Your technical skills range from beginning builders to workplace wizards.  Along the way it has become clear that core fundamentals of CorasWorks have gotten lost or are at least lumpy.  I am not talking about technical items, but, about how to think about what you are doing when delivering collaborative work management apps using CorasWorks.  I guess with the time, new folks coming in and churn it makes sense.  In this article, I’ll go over my list of Top 10 fundamentals of CorasWorks that every app builder and every application service delivery manager should know.

You can templatize an App and Reuse it for another Purpose/Group

A key value proposition of CorasWorks is the reusability.  Yet, a surprising number of people don’t even know that you can templatize and re-use an existing SharePoint site.  So, if you build a CorasWorks app, why not re-use/re-purpose it for another use.  Better yet, how about maintaining a central catalog of cleaned, re-usable application templates, and, giving it visibility across business groups.

Context vs. Content

I often hear business users say that the UI of a CorasWorks PS delivered app is simpler to use, easier to understand and much better than native SharePoint.  The reason is context vs. content.  An average native SharePoint user is used to working in a team site.  By design SharePoint is a content driven experience – really collaboration by proximity.  You go to some place (a site) and hit a page to access content.  CorasWorks changes this.  Effectively, what you do with CorasWorks is overlay a business context.  When our Professional Services does the work we use our in-house standardized application templates that strip away all of the ancillary content baggage like announcements and quick links and provide business users with an experience that is relevant to the business context.  This seems much “easier” to business users.  I recommend that you take a look at our PS standard and do the same.

Three Main Tiers of CorasWorks App Value

When using CorasWorks, you can add value in three main tiers.  Always triage your work into one these tiers as follows:

  • Self-service – this is where you expose native SharePoint and CorasWorks capabilities to a broad group of users that use them to enhance their team collaboration sites.
  • Standardized solution types – CorasWorks has defined, trains on, and supports about 15 types of standardized solutions for collaborative work management.  The idea is for your organization to understand these, buy or build your first one, catalog them, and reuse, reuse, reuse.
  • Custom solutions – These are solutions that are so unique that you need to do requirements and then build them out.  The box for doing this with CorasWorks is very, very big, particularly when leveraging the Advanced Framework of v11 (see next item).

NOTE: Most people are binary; either self-service or custom.  What is really lacking is the middle tier – this is probably the area of greatest opportunity to add value to your organization.

CorasWorks v11 and our Advanced Framework

The Advanced what???  The current shipping version of CorasWorks is v11.2. This is the 11th major release of our core platform since 2003. With CorasWorks all of the software (.dll’s) are in this platform product. Your solutions are created on top by configuration. v11 includes an Advanced Framework. This is a multi-tier app framework that allows you to build very custom extensions or new apps without doing custom compiled code. You can even go as far as to build a custom database app with a separate SQL server database and a CorasWorks front-end surfaced in SharePoint – again without custom compiled code. This means that your IT Governance model can be centrally managed, but, the business groups can get lots of value.  The box of what you can do with CorasWorks is probably a lot bigger than you think.

Basic Apps are Built Up – Like Layering

When you use our basic framework/components we call that a basic app.  A standard, single-site CorasWorks basic app is built up.  It is like an assembly line.  The standard steps are:

  • Create a new site using a standard base solution template
  • Add navigation
  • Modify the data – lists and libraries, custom “workplace” fields, and data relationships
  • Add basic displays (usually grids for apps)
  • Add forms (action forms for new items and in process action forms)
  • Add user task automation actions
  • Add email notification actions, activations and workflow
  • Add reporting
  • Add Advanced Framework extensions (after business user feedback, see last point)

CorasWorks Actions Control What Users Can Do

CorasWorks comes with its Actions Framework.  Using a wizard you can create actions for users to perform.  This is your control point.  It allows you to separate the user from the data (If you think about it with native SharePoint you are pretty much giving users direct access to the data).  So with your apps, think actions for users.  They need not know what magic the action does behind the scenes or what gets kicked off (emails, workflow, other actions, etc.).

CorasWorks Cuts Across Structural Barriers of SharePoint

Native SharePoint has a number of structural “barriers” that constrain your canvas for designing and building apps.  CorasWorks separates the user context from the content meaning that people can basically do anything from anywhere.  We make all of SharePoint your design canvas.  The main barriers we cut across are data types, lists, sites, site collections, web applications, and, even farms.  The impact is that for advanced designers they think in terms of the actual user experience wherever and in whatever context vs. the app user interface.

Apps: Single Sites vs. Distributed Systems

Most people are site bound.  They think of SharePoint site by site – because they have learned to live within the barriers.  In reality, SharePoint is a distributed system or even more correctly a “system of systems”.  Sometimes you will build a single site app, like a Help Desk.  Other times you are really designing and building systems – a collection of sites.  An example is a Portfolio of project sites where you might have a PMO, a couple of Portfolio Management sites, and a mere 50 or 100 project sites spread across departments working in different site collections.  The key is to design at the system level first, thinking about the user role and experience, with the local sites coming next.  Back to the Help Desk and that single site.  Where do the users enter in their Help Desk requests? Where do they see the status and activity?  Can they first search a knowledge base or access a self-service community?  Should it really be designed as just a single Help Desk site for 10 help desk engineers or is it really a system to help users be more productive with a user population of say 3,000?

Think Collaborative Application Design Patterns

Most users think that an IT Help Desk, a Chemical Materials Storage Request system for a Pharmaceutical, and, an IDIQ HR Staffing app are very different applications.  To a CorasWorks builder they are basically the same with a bit of work to customize the “language” of the app.  In effect, they are what we would call a “Request” collaborative application design pattern.  In this world of collaborative work management apps you begin to see that most apps fit into common, re-usable patterns.  This is what drives the repeatability of our Standardized Solution Types mentioned above.  Thus, a catalog of 10 standard base app templates representing each of the solution types can serve your needs to create 100’s of business function specific applications.

Think about the Work-Stream(s)

We are very focused on the app.  In practice, this allows us to focus and meet a need.  However, in reality often work in one activity kicks off work in the next.  Or, in order to get the work done of one app you need to tap into another set of teams/apps/processes. When you step back and see how these activities tie together, you are thinking about what we call the work-stream.  For instance, in the big picture, an Idea Management app, would hand off to a Project Approval App, that hands off to a Development Project app that feeds your Change Management app.  The project approval app may have a process to request a capital expenditure (from finance) or a market study (from marketing).  Each of these apps can live on their own and usually have completely different users and contexts and make up multiple work-streams.  But, they connect.  They are loosely coupled.  And, you can have them all inter-operating within a CorasWorks-SharePoint environment.


CorasWorks Highlights Shared Application Services Successes at TechNet Land Forces–East

Last week we were at the TechNet Land Forces – East conference in Baltimore.  This years theme was Cyber Security.  There were more than 1,000 people from the Defense and Intelligence agencies/industry plus about 100 exhibitors.  This year we highlighted customer application successes at the Army, Navy, and Marines leveraging the CorasWorks-on-SharePoint “Enterprise Shared Application Services” (ESAS) model.  In this article, I’ll talk about the footprint of CorasWorks-on-SharePoint across the Defense and Intelligence landscape, how it enables a shared application services model and talk about some applications that we showed, and, wrap up with some thoughts about how ESAS may evolve.

CorasWorks for Defense/Intel since 2003

CorasWorks has been serving the Defense and Intelligence sector since we started in 2003.  One of our first projects was building out a system to manage Warfighter exercises for the US Army that required near real time changes.  During this time we also used the beta version of SharePoint 2003 to support a mock Federal Disaster Management exercise.   Over the last 9 years, core web-based infrastructure has evolved a great deal, the SharePoint platform has changed, CorasWorks application technology has matured, the CorasWorks footprint has grown tremendously, and, the approach to delivering on the customers’ mission has matured.

The Current Enabling Footprint

I’ll talk about our footprint in the Defense/Intel sector from 4 perspectives.  Each of these relates to the enablement of the shared applications services model and how it impacts the overall mission of Defense/Intel sector.

Adoption – CorasWorks has been deployed broadly across the Army, Navy, and Marines.  It is also widely deployed across DoD Special Operations Commands, Homeland Security, Intelligence agencies, and, amongst supporting civilian agencies such as Dept of Justice and Dept of State.  This means that our solution platform is already deployed on SharePoint which makes it available to all supported users across each of these agencies and can support inter-agency collaboration.

Certifications – CorasWorks has maintained a number of key certifications for our flagship CorasWorks Solution Platform product (now in version 11) across SharePoint 2003, SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010.  These include Certificate of Networthiness (Army), Dept of State, DADMS (Navy/Marines), and Technical Reference Manual (Dept of Homeland Security).

Systems Integrator Support – More than half of the top 50 Federal Systems Integrators are engaged in delivering solutions that leverage CorasWorks on SharePoint.  In some agencies, we have 10-20 organizations all building different solutions, but, leveraging the common CorasWorks-SharePoint platform.  With the broad availability of CorasWorks on these enterprise environments, it is very practical for these systems integrators to look to leverage CorasWorks first as opposed to planning to write custom compiled code that needs to be installed into the environment (SharePoint and/or non-SharePoint) with the attendant delays and risks.

Base of Agency Citizen Developers – Over the years, the personnel in the agencies have learned to leverage CorasWorks as “citizen developers”.  This term was coined by Gartner in 2010 and highlighted in a case study of the US Marines and its use of CorasWorks and SharePoint (Case Study: Citizen Developers Help the U.S. Marine Corps Improve Its Knowledge Management – Gartner ID:G00201455).  These individuals are able to modify CorasWorks-based applications in real time to meet situational needs without requiring environment changes (or they can build new ones without affecting the IT environment).  A more recent Gartner report in June of 2011 further expands on Citizen Developers (and references CorasWorks) and its growing importance in delivering value and also in providing a more secure IT operational environment ((Citizen Developers Are Poised to Grow, 2011 – Gartner ID: G00213183). 

Application Successes and Success of Shared Application Services

At TechNet we highlighted three applications as follows:

Configuration Management (US Navy) – This system centrally manages a range of configuration activities including equipment life cycle, design, fabrication, and, assembly of equipment, and change requests.

Project Portfolio Reporting (US Army) – For a major command, this system provides visibility, reporting and data analysis for senior staff across a broad portfolio of project work throughout the command.

Combat Development Command (US Marines) – This system manages requests for equipment, training, and capabilities across the globe, providing real time visibility throughout the life cycle to senior staff.

Taken individually each application represents a best of breed, custom tailored system supporting a broad group of users.  Each rivals the best option for a far more expensive custom developed system.  However, each of these applications was created leveraging CorasWorks-on-SharePoint.  This means that they did not require custom compiled code development (and thus no new code deployment by IT was required on the enterprise infrastructure).  Accordingly, they were designed and developed to leverage the existing “enterprise shared application services” platform of CorasWorks v11 on SharePoint. 

While each of these systems were built with involvement from CorasWorks Professional Services they also leveraged third-party systems integrators and in-house personnel.  In addition, they are just one of many different applications leveraging the same infrastructure and various teams of people that are able to design and build applications that are part of the inter-connected framework of applications running on the shared application environment in each of these commands. (Meaning, fewer siloes and greater inter-connection.)

Considering the Future of Enterprise Shared Application Services (ESAS) Environments

For the last five years, the approach of enterprise shared application services (ESAS) has been increasingly adopted.  This adoption has often been driven by reasons of proven results, cost-effectiveness and manageability of the approach. Yet, while the infrastructure is broadly in place the overall recognition and use is still in its infancy.

Today, there are a number of forces at work that could accelerate the adoption of ESAS.  Right now, there is a major push for better managed infrastructure/networks lead by initiatives for Private Clouds, Public Clouds, and overall Cyber Security.  Part of the emphasis is lower costs, but also, greater manageability to reduce the surface area of risks/exposure.

Logically, I believe that the emphasis on infrastructure should naturally shift to the application layer and follow the logic that leads to ESAS.  It goes like this – add a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) ESAS layer, with very pliable software, such as CorasWorks-SharePoint, to support a broad set of application requirements and thereby reduce the exposure to risks inherent in siloed, custom built applications, while achieving comparable results at less cost and time.

Realistically, I don’t envision a super majority adoption of an ESAS-model in the next few years in the Defense and Intelligence sector.  But, over the next 10 years, an acceptance of simpler applications, the need for more manageable environments up through the application layer, along with continued innovation in the pliability of application software, can drive the tipping point towards ESAS.


Idea and Innovation Management as an IT-Provided, Enterprise Shared Service on SharePoint

As CorasWorks Idea Management (Cim) on SharePoint gets out there more in the SharePoint enterprise community, IT departments are starting to look at providing Cim as an Enterprise Shared Service as part of their offering to the business groups.  I’ll address this by recounting an actual question and answer thread that I had with an organization. (NOTE: This article is written for those in IT with enterprise SharePoint experience). 

General Scenario:

The customer looks at Cim and likes the solution for their Idea Management.  However, they come to the conclusion that innovation within their enterprise is not a single, big solution.  Rather, they see it happening at the department and division level. They also want the burden on the business groups to support themselves assuming Cim supports this (For SharePoint enterprise accounts, this is actually very common).  Accordingly, they want to bring it up as an IT-Provided, Enterprise Shared Service, on their SharePoint infrastructure.  This means that they want to offer it “as an application service” on top of their SharePoint offering so that their different departments/business groups act as separate tenants (multi-tenant) and customize it to their local needs.    

Customers’ Definition:

The customer started off by very clearly articulating what they wanted as below:

“The idea is that IT will provide an Idea Management portal as a service to any department that wants to do ideation. This implies the following:

- Each department’s portal should be completely separate from the portals of other departments – it is not the idea that people from one department can access the portal from another department.

- Also any reporting should be separate.

- As IT only provides the portal, the department is still responsible for defining processes, responsibilities, user rights/management, etc. Each department should be able to set up these things itself, without intervention of IT.”

 Questions and Answers:

Question 1: Can you describe how you would simulate/create/configure your Idea Management solution to meet the needs as described above?

Answer 1: This design is supported by CorasWorks Idea Management on SharePoint – in fact, it is a scenario that we design for.  We refer to it as Cim as an IT-provided, Enterprise Shared Service.  IT instantiates the basic service and then “turns it on” for each department upon demand.  From there, the department administrator manages their Cim solution as part of their department work.

This is possible and practical for four key reasons: 

- First, Cim is a modular solution.  You build up your Innovation Portal from a number of modules (9 come with Cim v1.2); each can be Administered separately. 

- Second, Cim comes with point-and-click wizards that enable IT to offload the Administration and “power user” customization to business groups so that they make their changes without requiring IT involvement.  All CorasWorks customization is done without cracking any compiled code. 

- Third, this is possible because Cim runs on the CorasWorks Solution Platform v11 for SharePoint.  This contains the Dll’s that are installed once on the enterprise server farm, and then, the Cim solution can be made available to the department in a shared, multi-tenant fashion. 

- Fourth, our training and online community provides training on a role basis that is designed to separately train up the business groups on what they need to know. 

Question 2: What would be the "[deployment] architecture" of the tool to provide a service to different departments as described above? Does a complete separation of the different portals (from a department perspective) imply also different implementations, or can there be one "parent portal" (managed by IT), where IT can just create a new child portal for each department. Each department should in any case have complete control over its own child portal (see above).

Answer 2: Let’s start with the “basic Cim” implementation.  IT would install the CorasWorks Solution Platform v11 and Cim modules.  These are the core dll’s and module templates.  This would be available across the farm.  However, Cim, the solution is not yet instantiated.

From there, you can go either way as described above.

Approach 1: IT could bring up a central Innovation Portal.  This would typically be in its own Site Collection.  At the top level, just below the portal you would have the various modules for the central Innovation Portal.  At the same level, you would have the top site for the Department Portal. Below it, you would have the modules for that department.  A schematic of this is shown below.



Approach 2: This is similar to the above, however, each Department’s Innovation Portal is within its own Departmental Site Collection.  It may be the top level of the Site Collection or be a sub-level.  For instance, if they already have a top level site for the Department, the implementation would look similar to that above, however, their existing Department Portal replaces the Central Innovation Portal and the Department Innovation portal is below it (say where Dept 1 Portal is located).

In either case, each department would have control over its portal and the modules it uses, i.e., how many communities, its own reporting, its members and groups.  

NOTE: The departments have greater administrative control if they have their own Site Collection.  This allows for them to control the templates, features, and Site Collection Administrators.

Question 3: Linked to the previous question, how will each department be able to manage its own portal, e.g. do they have their own "admin console"?

Answer 1b: Each of the Cim modules has its own Admin console which are rather simple to use.  Thus, they can separately manage the Portal, their Idea Communities(s), the Reporting, the News service (they can control which sites within their department are linked to the News Service), their Blog, and their Management process.

Question 4: Linked to the first question, is custom reporting possible per department, configured by the departments themselves?

Answer 4: Yes, as above.  There are two main types of reporting in Cim – both can be controlled at the department level.  There is the Reporting Service.  This provides reporting on the Idea activity such as the Top 10 and the Dashboard.  It uses a portfolio approach, so you just add the Idea Communities for the department and the reporting lights up.  Then, in the Cim Management Hub, it has customizable Pivot reporting for management.  This is also configurable at the department level.

Question 5: To what extent can the tool be customized by ourselves (IT and/or business groups) and to what extent do you provide support for this customization?

Answer 5: The short answer is extensively.  Cim is very flexible in implementation and very customizable and extenable.  The key is that Cim runs on the CorasWorks Solution Platform v11.  It provides a robust set of point-and-click wizards to enable customization of Cim by non-technical users.  This means that departments can help themselves in most cases.  And, it allows extensive customization by developers without having to modify compiled code.  This would be for extreme cases where IT is brought in at the app level.

We have an extensive Training program that establishes four levels of customization for Cim and sample tasks at each level.  Our training is oriented towards these levels and supported by our Online Community.  Our standard set of training for an Enterprise Shared Services environment would consist of:

- System Administration Training for IT providing the service (not one of the four levels) – installing the platform and managing Cim as a service on SharePoint

- Cim Administrator (Level 1) training for each of the Department Administrators – things like how to create a community, change the navigation, etc.

- Cim Power User Customization (Level 2) for Dept Admins and Power Users – how to customize Cim using point and click wizards to the needs of the department

- Cim Builder Customization (Level 3) for more technical people (but not coders) – This would train a select group in IT or Business Groups in how to customize at a deeper level using Wizards.  They would know how to change the Stage-Gate processes and manage workflows.

- Cim Solution Framework Developer Customization (Level 4) for no-code developers – This training is available to teach people how to build new features without coding using our Solution Framework.  However, it is usually done by CorasWorks or Partners.

In General, we would train you on System Admin and Level 1 and 2.  You’d train the Department Admins on level 1 and a bit of Level 2.  Your IT group would probably end up learning a bit of Level 3.  CorasWorks and Partners support you up the stack.


Beyond the Q&A

The Enterprise Shared Application Service (ESAS) model for Cim is an excellent model for enterprises with an enterprise-wide implementation of SharePoint.  Why?

It makes sense.  The truth is that there is no one right innovation portal or process across an enterprise for all business scenarios.  However, with Cim on SharePoint, you set standards, control support costs, create supporting cross-organizational communities/resources, and allow the department/business groups to innovate on their own.  This way innovation is allowed to flourish locally based upon a supported standard enterprise-wide. It is Enterprise Innovation by design…

Further, CorasWorks is designed to make this work as follows:

- Cim and the CorasWorks platform are designed for shared multi-tenant services such as this.  The DLL’s are installed once, then, the tenants (different business groups) can customize their Innovation Portal as they see fit. 

- In addition, our pricing supports the proper charge-back.  We charge a flat organization license plus per user.  So IT pays the flat portion and the business groups pay for users as they come on board. 

- Lastly, CorasWorks supports loosely-coupled, federation.  Thus, while each department may have its own innovation process, you can create central processes that connect to various departments and allow you to do centralized management. These are loosely-coupled and you can make connections in minutes without disrupting the local work.  An example, is that you decide you want to farm the departments for Enterprise Best Practices.  This works across site collections and web applications (i.e, across the whole server farm).

Last note.  I have written about ESAS models in the past on SharePoint.  What is key here is that Idea and Innovation Management is a business application not a technical capability.  It moves IT up the stack as a provider of business application-level services vs. just capabilities.  And, it leverages the whole stack of investments they already have in SharePoint, thereby, reducing the normal cost, risk, and complexity.


Intranet-Extranet Integration on SharePoint – Recorded Webcast

On March 4th, we did a webcast on integrating an Extranet and Intranet with both running on SharePoint.  It hits on getting across the barriers of firewalls, cross farm, cross data sources, and multiple channels of consuming.  It is focused on how you can accomplish it at the app levels.

We did three scenarios.  For each scenario, we lay out the scenario, then do the demonstration, and then, go behind the scenes to show you how it was done.

The Scenarios

- Publishing information from Intranet to Extranet

- Interacting with information between the Intranet and the Extranet

- Working with database information in the Extranet via multiple channels: Intranet via Browser, RSS, and Mobile


Click here to access the webcast (runtime 1 hour). 



Intranet >to< Extranet Integration on SharePoint

Increasingly customers are looking to extend their use of SharePoint to Extranets and Internet web-facing sites.  Over the last few months their have been a flurry of products, applications, video demonstrations, and white papers released covering the use of CorasWorks to address this scenario.  This article will list a number of these resources and summarize how they relate to the scenario.


First, we have a new White Paper that goes through a number of scenarios for  Intranet>to<Extranet Integration.  What your are building, why, and what your integration needs are vary greatly.  The point of this white paper is that there are standard “big” designs and that the CorasWorks stack supports these designs and a broad range of specific scenarios using standardized components and methods.  It covers scenarios where you have SharePoint running on both sides.  It covers Extended Scenarios where you are using databases and/or SP in the Extranet or the Intranet or other enterprise apps or services in the cloud and how it is all brought together using CorasWorks.

We have also released a number of video demonstrations of the integration at work in a SharePoint-to-SharePoint scenario.  They are demonstrations of scenarios covered in the White Paper:

  • Intranet>Extranet Push Scenario – this video shows how users working in their departments within the Intranet can push announcements through a process which automatically end up in the Extranet outside the firewall (click here, runtime 6:48)


  •  Integration Scenario: Omega Product Community – this is a series of three videos that cover an integrated scenario where users work in the Extranet with data from the Intranet and work in the Intranet with data from the Extranet.  The videos are:
    • Overview of the X Design – this is an overview describing how the 2 zones are integrated through this X Design (click here, runtime 4:58)
    • Extranet – this shows an Extranet built using the Spirit Community Services Suite for the Omega Product Community and how it is dynamically showing news from the Intranet (click here, runtime 5:00)
    • Intranet & Back Again – this shows the Intranet side and how a Product Team can see the community articles and comments from the Extranet within the Intranet and how they can make comments and even contribute new articles from within the Intranet (click here, runtime 4:44)

For a live, hands-on, sense of an Extranet using a database (also referenced in the White Paper) we recommend that you take a look at the CorasWorks App Store.  The App Store uses back-end SQL Server database and SharePoint information.  Effectively, it is a mash-up of information that is transformed using CSS/XLST.  The Community is a pure Extranet with integration with our Intranet.  The key part of this solution is that the entire Community was built using standard CorasWorks products with no custom code development, but, a good deal of CSS/XSLT customization (with the exception of the Registration system which was hand coded).

Now, let’s take a look at the core off-the-shelf solution sets that you can use to get you going with the two separate zones of work (pre-integration). 

  • For the Extranet, we show and recommend the Spirit Community Services Suite as a core building block  This 4-module product uses the CorasWorks Toolset and is used to build Extranets or to add community services such as Group Blogs to any environment.
  • For the Intranet side, in late January we released the new CorasWorks Department Solution Set.  This 5-module system provides a comprehensive framework to build out a departmental work environment for your Intranet.  The whole system is centrally managed and administered as part of our One Touch system design.

The power behind the integration scenarios is the CorasWorks Toolset.  In February we released v1.6.1.  This release runs on both SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010. Thus, you can build and deploy on SP2007 and do an in-place upgrade of your solution to SP2010.  Or, you can deploy directly on SP2010.  This robust product provides the core capabilities to build out your extranet, whether it uses SharePoint data, databases, enterprise apps, or cloud services.  A key part of the Toolset is that it spans sites, site collections, and web applications across a SharePoint farm.  And, it goes cross-server farm.  And, it spans to just about any external data source located anywhere.

Some of the core capabilities of the Toolset typically used for integrated Intranet><Extranet scenarios are:

  • External Data Providers – to connect to external data sources and manage multiple connections and output information in simple XML
  • SharePoint Data Providers – to connect to SharePoint data and manage multiple connections and output information in simple XML
  • Mashup Adapter – used to mashup different data sources as XML
  • Database Writer – to do Add, Edit, Delete functions between data sources and thus maintain synchronization
  • Business Data Form Adapter – to create read/write forms that connect to the other components, including the uploading of binary files to an ADO database, and manage the business logic

A key design aspect of the Toolset is that you are UI independent.  Typically, in the Intranet zone people will use the CorasWorks Workplace Suite UI with its rich, Ajax-based web dialogs and custom actions to automate work.  This UI integrates with the Toolset XML stream.  For web facing environments they will use lighter, CSS/XSLT displays that consume and work with the XML data.  The Spirit solution takes this approach.  The key to the whole approach is that all data streams are converted into simple XML that may be consumed and worked with in a read/write way across firewalls, server farms and the cloud.

Lastly, we have recently had two announcements of strategic partnerships that extend the CorasWorks solution set for Intranet><Extranet scenarios.  Our joint venture with means that you can bring up an Extranet as a managed service, with the full CorasWorks stack and integrate it with your Intranet or any other source of data across the cloud or the enterprise.  Leveraging H3 Solutions Mobile Entre product we will soon be releasing a server-side mobile solution that enables you to mobile enable these environments, with task oriented apps, with no custom coding, and that work with just about every client side mobile device in the market.

As you can see, we have gone a long way towards being able to provide a comprehensive, pre-integrated solution set for building Intranets and Extranets and integrating them.  Because of this pre-integration the major challenges of making these scenarios work are reduced to the practical work of implementation.  We believe that the Extranet and Web Facing sites offer a great opportunity to provide workforce leverage for your business that quickly translates into increased productivity.  Through these tools we hope to put this potential value within your reach.


Distributing Application Functionality with Snaplets

This week R3 Business Solutions released v2 of its Time Off Management app and its Budget Change Request Management app.  Both include a set of Snaplets to enable organizations to distribute key pieces of each application across the SharePoint environment, in order to make work convenient for users.  Snaplets are web parts, based upon a special central configuration enabled by CorasWorks, that make them distributable with full fidelity.  This enables you to distribute application functionality to say 20 places across an environment, but, to be able to make one change in a central place and all 20 instances of the Snaplet Web Part are updated.  In this article, we provide an overview of Snaplets and three videos that cover the business benefit, how to distribute Snaplets, and how to centrally customize them once they are deployed.

A Typical Scenario for Snaplets

People are adding business apps to their SharePoint environments.  They drop the app into the environment somewhere such as in a department site collection.  In order to use the app, users then navigate to the app and do their work.  This is how we historically have thought of apps – you go somewhere to use them.  However, in the broad, distributed work environment that is SharePoint, in many instances there is a better way.

Let’s look at a Help Desk app.  You could drop the Help Desk app into the IT Department Site Collection.  In general, Help Desk engineers use the app.  Historically, our engineers spend a lot of time doing data entry of new requests and fielding calls and emails about status.  So, now we tell users that they can go to the app and enter their requests.  What we find is that the users don’t do this, because it is inconvenient, thus, the engineers continue to do data entry and respond to status inquiries.

Enter the Snaplet.  The CW Help Desk apps use Snaplets.  You simple snap off the end-user, self-service UI, and distribute it to all of the locations where users could possibly work.  From there they can see their Requests: new ones, old ones, and the status.  From there they can enter new requests and pop off emails to assigned engineers and make comments etc.  Their work, from wherever they work, is connected to the app.  What you find is that users start to enter requests because it is convenient.  They reduce separate emails and calls to the Help Desk because they can see the status in real time, wherever they work.  This is a typical example of the productivity benefit of distributing application functionality across the SharePoint environment.

Below is a schematic of how this actually lays out.  In this example, we have two apps, the Help Desk in the IT Dept and a Time Off Management app in the HR department.  Both are good examples of apps where distributing the functionality to where users work makes sense.  The Green and Red dots show where the apps’ Snaplets are distributed to. So, you have Snaplets for both apps distributed to 4 department dashboards in their own Site Collections, to the Portal, to an Employee Services Console (where they self-serve), and to Personal Consoles such as their My Sites (people can self-service and drop the Snaplets into their My Site).  You distribute the end-user self-service Snaplet.  But, you may also distribute Snaplets for Management Reports and Snaplets for Review and Approval.  Any functionality in the app can be converted into a distributable Snaplet with full fidelity.


Technically, how do Snaplets Work

All apps built with CorasWorks have displays, views, forms, and actions in some combination.  So, when you go into an app, the user has a typical app UI.  Any UI in CorasWorks can be converted into a Snaplet for distribution. This is done by creating a Snaplet web part.  The Snaplet “encapsulates” all of the functionality of a particular UI display of an app. It is a connected, extension of the app.   It is created by using centrally configured capabilities driven by point-and-click builder wizards: Central Views, Central Actions, Central Forms and Global Links.  To the user, there is no difference between the UI within the site of the app and the UI that is available via the Snaplet – this is what we mean by “full fidelity”.  In addition, once you create the Snaplet it can be used within the app as well as being distributed.  The key is that the Snaplet is centrally configurable.  Imagine you have a Snaplet for end-users to manage their Time Off requests.  You want to add an action so that end-users can fill out a custom form for Time Off requests for personal days.  You just add it centrally in the app and any instance of the Snaplet now has that capability.

Video 1: Business Productivity through Snaplets – Self-service Help Desk (6:52 minutes)

In this brief video we will show you how Snaplets are used to distribute the end-user self-serve functionality of the CorasWorks Help Desk and show you how they add business value by putting functionality at the fingertips of users where they normally work.

Video 2: How to Distribute Snaplets – Time Off Management app (7 minutes)

In this video, we’ll show you how easy it is to distribute Snaplets using hte pre-built Snaplets that are part of R3 Business Solutions v2 of the Time Off Management app.

Video 3: Central Customization of Snaplets – Business Links as a Shared Central Resource (7 minutes)

In this video we’ll show you how to customize a Snaplet that has already been distributed.  We use a business links “central resource”. 


Most of us are familiar with business apps.  And, we are familiar with the distributed, collaborative environment of SharePoint. CorasWorks Snaplets and the capabilities that drive them, make it possible to have the best of both worlds – the structure of business applications with the ability for people to work wherever is most convenient.   The result is increased business productivity with a minimum of maintenance.  The best part is that it is very easy to do by leveraging CorasWorks Builder Wizards.