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Stellcom Creates an Organizational Memory with Intraspect 4

  • July 01 2001, 1:00am EDT

REVIEWER: Keith D. Nater, director of strategic and corporate development for Stellcom, Inc.

BACKGROUND: Stellcom, Inc. is a wireless integration firm that focuses solely on providing engineering solutions to enable mobile computing. We employ over 400 professionals, primarily hardware and software engineers, who work both in our facilities and on extended assignments on customer premises.

PLATFORMS: Compaq ProLiant ML 570, quad Pentium III Xenon processors at 700MHz, 2G of RAM, 200GB of RAID storage supporting the knowledge store and backup snapshots. Windows NT 4.0, SP6.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Stellcom has grown rapidly over the past few years. With the addition of new staff and new offices, we needed to improve our ability to capture and share corporate experience and work product. With distributed project teams, we needed to enhance our ability to collaborate around projects. Finally, we wanted to provide additional value to our customers by giving on-demand access to finished work and work in progress.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The product adoption rate by our employees has been high. Within the first six weeks of production, engineering teams voluntarily migrated most of their project workspaces to Intraspect. They use the product as the "place to do work" rather than the "place to store work after you've done it somewhere else." Usage data indicates increasing use of collaboration and notification features such as subscriptions, search agents and threaded discussions. By creating a custom-branded user interface for Intraspect, we were able to completely replace our company intranet. Intraspect 4 creates collaboration spaces, or c-spaces. This feature provides a wizard allowing individual users to create partitioned, collaborative environments for projects or working groups. Using this feature, project teams can safely create customer-specific extranets without requiring system administrators.

STRENGTHS: The main strength is the product's ability to capture knowledge at the point of creation. With Intraspect, if I e-mail a status report to a customer, I copy a location in the knowledge store. The report, along with my e-mail, is captured, indexed and organized. Replies from the customer are captured as well. Intraspect also provides a file-system view of the knowledge store through the use of WebDAV. Using WebDAV, users can create and edit documents directly in the KMS the same way they do on network file share.

WEAKNESSES: System administration features need improvements. Many current tools are command-line utilities that must be run while physically logged into the server. Support for remote administration of the product is limited, although improved with the recent product upgrade. While the system provides a rich collection of search features, the user interface is too difficult for some users. The product would benefit from a redesign of the search screens and the creation of a search wizard to help the novice user navigate through the options.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We selected Intraspect over competitive products for three reasons. First, Intraspect's ability to capture data at the point of creation ensured adoption by our user community. Second, user communities can easily administer their own workspaces, allowing them to tailor the product to specific needs. Third, the out-of-the-box capabilities allowed us to begin using the product immediately without undertaking a knowledge portal development effort.

DELIVERABLES: Distributed knowledge management is a key benefit of Intraspect. Through the use of c-spaces, users can create and administer their own collaboration environments within a framework set up by the system administrator. Within c-spaces, users can grant and remove access, reorganize data and open the system to their customers without impacting other users of the system or requiring action from a system administrator.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Pre-implementation planning support helped us avoid a number of implementation pitfalls related to security models and data organization. Intraspect's team underestimated system storage requirements, though, forcing us to upgrade disk storage within the first month of operation. Post- implementation, Intraspect's technical support group gets high marks. They are knowledgeable about the product and responsive to problem calls. On the few occasions that a problem has been escalated to Intraspect's vendors, the support team has kept us up-to-date on call status. Intraspect could improve post-implementation support by providing self-support options.

DOCUMENTATION: The end-user documentation is sufficient for most users. The system administration documentation provides the necessary information to complete administration tasks but does not provide sufficient troubleshooting information. The system administrator course provided by Intraspect should be mandatory.

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