REVIEWER: Sandy Harvey, senior analyst at Amway.

BACKGROUND: Amway is a global marketing and consumer products company in more than 80 countries and territories worldwide, with $9.2 billion in annual sales for 2010.

PLATFORMS: harmon.ie is currently deployed as a sidebar plug-in in our Lotus Notes 8.5.1 client and Windows environment. The software combines our messaging and collaboration environments into a single context within our most widely used productivity application, which is email.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Before we implemented harmon.ie, employees used their browser to access and share published documents on SharePoint, but they didn’t use SharePoint to co-author new documents. Instead, 6,000 employees in our Ada, Michigan headquarters emailed nearly 73,000 attachments a day. Whenever employees wanted to collaborate on a new document, they created an email, attached a draft of the document and distributed multiple copies to their colleagues. As the edits came back, people wasted time searching through email to find the latest version of the document and merging everyone’s feedback manually. In the end, the document history was lost and project files were incomplete because related emails and voicemails weren’t shared. We purchased harmon.ie to streamline the document collaboration process and increase employee productivity by bringing SharePoint document collaboration into our email client, where people spend their workday. We also purchased harmon.ie to simplify time management. Before deploying harmon.ie, many employees did not take advantage of the project and department calendars available in SharePoint because it was too difficult to keep track of meetings and events listed on multiple schedules.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Our employees now save a great deal of time using harmon.ie to share document links as well as access/store documents on SharePoint using library services like version control, instead of emailing attachments back and forth. If employees want to send a new document from their desktop, harmon.ie can automatically prompt them to save the attachment in SharePoint and send a link, instead. Within the first few months of deployment, access to SharePoint libraries from email increased overall SharePoint usage and reduced the number of email attachments sent every day by more than 40 percent. If people have questions about a document, they can check a colleague’s status on the harmon.ie sidebar and then click to chat with the person via IM. There’s no need to switch applications or cut and paste information from one application to another. And, people regularly save relevant emails and voicemails on SharePoint alongside their project documents. Employees also love using the calendar overlay with SharePoint calendars, particularly departmental and project-based calendars where meetings and critical calendar information are stored. Now all of this information is readily available in the Lotus Notes calendar. All in all, the amount of time our employees save using a single, easy-to-use collaboration interface has been a huge advantage for our employees.

STRENGTHS: harmon.ie's strength is its total integration with the email client. It’s simple to use and it works. We figure the product has already paid for itself in terms of time saved and the long-term reduction in email storage requirements. From an administrative perspective, harmon.ie’s prompt and efficient support is also a key strength.

WEAKNESSES: We’d like to see harmon.ie add more SharePoint document types such as tasks, lists, blogs and wikis to the product offering. Today, people need to access them from the Internet.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The reasons we purchased harmon.ie are because it performed flawlessly throughout the pilot and because harmon.ie delivers the single collaborative workspace we had envisioned for our employees. Also, for Lotus customers like Amway, harmon.ie for SharePoint is the only product that provides cross-platform integration between Lotus Notes and SharePoint. The only alternative was custom programming, which wasn’t really an option for us.

DELIVERABLES: The biggest benefit is increased productivity for our employees when collaborating on documents and managing their personal and team schedules. We find that our employees use SharePoint more because it’s so convenient to use directly from their email client.

VENDOR SUPPORT: harmon.ie’s product support is exemplary. Their sales and support groups are always quick and responsive to our needs, and they resolve any issues quickly and efficiently. They deserve five stars in this area.

DOCUMENTATION: Thorough administrative documentation allowed us to get our pilot up and running quickly. The product is intuitive to use, and user documentation, including an easy-to-understand quick reference guide and video learning tool, is very helpful. Many employees started using harmon.ie without formal training.