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National Aquarium in Baltimore Manages Hundreds of Proposals Efficiently and Effectively with RedDot

Published
  • April 01 2005, 1:00am EST

REVIEWER: Hans Keller, chief technology officer for National Aquarium in Baltimore.

BACKGROUND: The National Aquarium in Baltimore (NAIB), a nonprofit organization, is one of Baltimore's leading attractions, hosting more than 1.6 million visitors per year. The Aquarium is dedicated to education and conservation through programs that serve the environment and the community.

PLATFORMS: The NAIB runs RedDot Extended Content Management Solution (XCMS) on Microsoft Windows 2000 Server and Microsoft SQL Server 2000. 

PROBLEM SOLVED: Each year, the NAIB solicits project proposals from all employees and receives more than 100 proposals, each with three to ten supporting documents. Managers at the NAIB must approve these proposals, and a committee rates each one. For years, the NAIB manually managed this process, using 150 man-hours to coordinate all of the steps involved. The amount of content to be managed, indexed and versioned was overwhelming. Finding a solution that would reduce man-hours spent on this mission-critical process was vital to the success of the Aquarium.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The solution was implemented in less than four weeks and includes three critical modules: Document Manager, Business Process Manager and Collaboration. Through Document Manager, the NAIB is able to index and manage all of the documents received through project proposals. The documents are also made more easily searchable and accessible through the Web when they are needed. Perhaps most importantly, XCMS makes it possible to assign rights to documents, ensuring that the author and authorized users of a document can "lock" files and prevent their modification. The Business Process Manager portal allows the NAIB to automate and manage this process. The NAIB is able to map out the approval and rating process of the project proposals, ensuring that the right people, in the right order, review the document. Further, integration through Microsoft Outlook, the primary e-mail program used by the NAIB's employees, allows tasks to be assigned through e-mail. With the Collaboration Manager, employees are able to share and collaborate on documents.

STRENGTHS: The ability to manage documents and assets, automate the processes necessary to approve and rate project proposals, and allow all employees involved to share and collaborate on the documents allowed NAIB to meet their business objectives.

WEAKNESSES: The only aspect of XCMS that the NAIB viewed as weak is the escalation rules in the workflow manager. The NAIB is looking forward to the next version of XCMS, which will have updated and enhanced capabilities in this area.

SELECTION CRITERIA: After reviewing several vendors, the NAIB initially chose RedDot CMS and later added XCMS. With CMS, the NAIB was able to produce an award-winning Web site with decentralized content management. When the Aquarium made the decision to manage internal documents and business processes, XCMS came highly recommended from within the company. Ultimately, XCMS proved to have the workflow functionality the NAIB needed for the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO). Further, the solution is tailored to the needs of the mid-market, allowing it to be supported at the business analyst level.

DELIVERABLES: The 150 man-hours spent to support the project proposal manual process were reduced to two. Even though the time spent on the process was reduced dramatically, the quality of the process was improved overall. All steps were completely automated, permission was set for access, all related documents and assets were indexed and versioned for future reference, and the process is monitored and audited for continual improvement. The return on investment (ROI) is projected for less than six months of use.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Throughout the implementation process, RedDot technicians were readily available to answer any questions the NAIB had and assist with any problems. Further, after the actual implementation, RedDot provided training to all those who would be using XCMS, making the post-implementation process much easier.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation was clear and extremely helpful throughout the implementation process.

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