Notiva Trade Settlement solutions streamline and optimize the financial settlement processes between retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers. In August of 2002, Notiva was a 30-person software company, growing quickly, with offices in Minnesota, New York and California, as well as "home offices" in several other U.S. cities. As the company headed toward commercial launch in January 2003, we were resource constrained and needed to keep moving quickly.

Efficient capture and sharing of knowledge and rapidly changing information ­– including competitive product updates and developments, new feature ideas and even basic office facts –­ was a priority and a big challenge. We shared information using meetings, the company intranet and loads of e-mail. The sharing challenge was multiplied with more than 2,000 miles between offices, but sharing also occurred between any two cubes in the same office.

Initially, we manually authored an intranet site for important company information. The static intranet site was a good start, but it was really just that. Some people who were familiar with HTML updated the intranet, but few had access to tools required or the expertise to keep sections of the site current. As a result, some information from departments such as human resources, product management and even product development quickly became stale. We needed a better solution.

We reviewed the market for portal, Web publishing and knowledge management tools, but another solution began to take center stage. Weblog software had begun to make its mark as an easy way to share knowledge in real time. Thus we started looking at tools in this category alongside traditional offerings. Our search ended with Traction Software's TeamPage Enterprise Weblog Software, an easy-to-use, powerful solution. Traction enables everyday corporate users to collect, link and organize information from e-mail, the Web, Microsoft Office and other sources and deliver it organized by time, topic and importance to improve productivity, knowledge sharing, communications and collaboration. Traction's focus on the group as well as the person, its fit with other office applications, its organization system and simple yet powerful linking and labeling toolset made it a good fit. Security, audit trail and programming hooks were not immediate requirements but were features that made the decision easier and justified their value over time.

Deploying new tools, especially when they are cutting edge, unfamiliar and have any relation to knowledge management, is usually a recipe for disaster. For this reason, we decided to move slowly and deploy Traction first with the product management group, which has to communicate frequently with individuals across most departments at all of our locations. They began with a straightforward use case, posting updates on our market and competitors. The deployment was an instant success.

The development group was next in line. Our developers typically spent a lot of time browsing vendor Web sites when troubleshooting. Once the prohibitive time/cost of publishing that information on an internal Web site was eliminated with Traction, the information could be shared and easily searched. By documenting problems in Traction at they time they occur, linking them to the relevant vendor support information and describing the approach to a fix, we created a peer support environment and a valuable knowledge-sharing base specific to our own technical problems. Traction was a clear success within two months as team members began to browse it for support information before bothering with externally published information.

Eight months after initial deployment, Traction has spread throughout the organization. Use cases range from product management to human resources. Our Traction server is currently a resource for all of the following:

  • The Notiva monthly company newsletter
  • Human resources –­ forms and general information
  • Product management ­ competitive intelligence, industry awareness information
  • Operations knowledge base –­ installation instructions, troubleshooting, workarounds, server uptime/usage statistics, contact information for hosting vendor, how to program the phone switch and other information
  • Development knowledge base –­ tools installation/usage and internal standards
  • Development industry news
  • Developer journals
  • Facilities knowledge base
  • QuickLinks –­ to other internal Web-based systems such as our bug tracking and our autobuild tracker

The spread of Traction demonstrates its flexibility to meet our users' needs, its capability to manage business-relevant communication and the solution's fit with our infrastructure. TeamPage helped bridge the communication and knowledge gap over distances, project teams and time. As an approach to knowledge management, it tackles the problem bottom up and saves time at the point of entry rather than requiring an "extra step" that is incompatible with the users' working process.
The Traction deployment has been a success not only because of the way we introduced it to the company, but also because of Traction's capability to support groups and its fit with the way people want to work.

Traction Software is the leader in enterprise Weblog software, delivering easy to use tools for groups and teams to communicate, share, organize and link business information in context, over time. Traction's TeamPage software is a powerful, affordable solution to communication and information handling pains found in business and government.

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