This customer is a top 25 Federal Government Contractor with more than $1B in annual revenue. They are an existing CorasWorks customer using CorasWorks in their Extranet and Intranet work environments running on Microsoft SharePoint 2010. This is a story of how they have enhanced their Program Management environment (Contract, Programs, IDIQs, Task Orders, etc) to support managed, interactivity between their Employees and their Customers and Suppliers. The key interactive process they are focused on is Customer Reporting, primarily CDRL deliverables. The article will describe the design of their solution, what we call the Hub and Spoke design, which enables this managed, configurable type of “role-based” interactivity.
They have defined and are building out a broad Integrated Program Management System (IPMS) with multiple sub-systems. They are doing this leveraging their SharePoint environment. They are using CorasWorks for specific sub-systems of this environment such as IDIQ Task Order Management. They are also using CorasWorks to enhance certain custom built sub-systems such as the subject of this article.
They had a version 1 of a Program Management sub-system that is targeted to encompass more than 1,000 contracts/programs when fully rolled out. Their objective is to be able to manage the work for each contract/program that they have as part of a unified system. Like most SharePoint systems, with v1, they had a basic framework with a Program site at its core. This is where the Program Manager and internal team could collaborate. But, the v1 lacked the key capability to interact with Customers and Suppliers, particularly around CDRL deliverables. With customers, they wanted to structure the Customer Reporting (primarily CDRLs) workstream. They also wanted customers to be able to make requests. With Suppliers, they wanted them to provide their reports to them in a structured way which then became part of the reporting to customers. They also wanted to be able to interact with the Suppliers.
Their key design objective was for the internal employees to be able to see and manage all of the activity, but, the Customers and the Suppliers would only be able to see, contribute, and act with information/tasks that were specifically available to them. In addition, they needed flexible. Effectively every contract/program is somewhat different. So, the system had to accommodate the need to make changes at the Program level to meet the specific needs of the customer.
They leveraged CorasWorks to get to their new version 2. For this version, they shifted the system to their Extranet environment. This reflects the key recognition that program interactivity between Employees, Customers, and Suppliers simply has to live outside of the Intranet.
As above, the core new process was the management of the CDRL deliverables for each Contract/Program. The general design is as follows:
- Each contract/program has a site – lets call it the Program hub. This is where the internal employees work.
- When a Program Hub is created they can auto-provision a separate Customer site and one or more Supplier sites as required. We refer to these as Consoles. They are effectively Spokes of the Hub.
- The Program Manager manages their work and interactivity with Customers and Suppliers through the Program Hub.
- With CDRLs, they define each CDRL in the Program Hub. Effectively, it is a task with a due date that can be tracked and managed.
- When it is time, they prepare the reports, which might include interactivity with Suppliers.
- The CDRL deliverable is then “published” for access by the Customer. They are automatically notified and can go to their Customer console to view the information and interact.
In addition to the enhancement around Customer Reporting, they enhanced a number of other features. Two key enhancement were:
- Integration with their external ERP system to provide real-time updates to the Program Manager.
- Task (Action Item) management for the Program members with work automation.
So far, they have brought up more than 100 Contracts/Programs into the new system. For each contract/program the CDRL process is managed as above. Some Programs don’t have Suppliers, while others do. The full cycle is now tracked (to insure completion of the deliverable) and documented (for auditing).
The flexibility that they wanted is achieved just by their use of CorasWorks. This enables the Program Managers to modify the CDRLs that are delivered and to turn on and off features as required by the contract.
Wrap Up and Summary
This solution is a good example of how to leverage CorasWorks to enhance a system that you already have on SharePoint. I’ll drill down into two important capabilities that make a big difference in the success of this solution.
Cross-Connect – CorasWorks has the native capability to enable you to See, Contribute, and Act across SharePoint Sites and SharePoint Site Collections. This “cross-connect” capability enables the Hub and Spoke, interactive design that was used for this solution. Effectively, you are creating role-based “work consoles” that only enable uses to see, contribute, and act as you determine. This means that you DO NOT have to give these external parties direct access into a SharePoint site.
Feature Flexibility – A key benefit of their use of CorasWorks is the feature flexibility on a program by program basis. If you have a fixed, custom built, proprietary system, then, it would either a) be very difficult to change to accommodate each customer/program (unlimited permutations) or b) be very costly to set up and maintain separate systems for each program and customer to accommodate their specific needs. Using CorasWorks, the customer has the flexibility to add new interactive features on a program by program basis. These features become part of the framework and may be simply turned on and off (by business users such as the Program Manager) to meet the needs of the Customer and/or Supplier. Features enabled for one program do not affect other programs.