For architectural practices working in the knowledge economy, project team integration, information management and communications are all critical to achieving high standards of quality and efficiency.
For BDP the challenges of project team integration, information management and communications have long been understood with user centric design and innovation at the heart of their design philosophy. Furthermore, with a global presence and an interdisciplinary team approach, the challenges of connecting people within the practice who are often separated by distance are obvious. There was a clear need to develop a strategy for content management, team collaboration and practice wide communications underpinned by the adoption of the relevant technology accelerators.
After revising all content associated with their design process, BDP’s Content Management Group – comprised of key business stakeholders and internal technology experts – had a clear view of what needed to be achieved and they were seeking a quality partner to help design and implement their vision.
Waterstons were selected because of our proven track record in delivering similar solutions and the customer intimate approach we take in the delivery of all projects.
BDP needed a new corporate intranet, named Planet, which would be the hub for collaboration of content across the practice. The Content Management Group identified Microsoft SharePoint as a platform that offers centralisation and content management, coupled with the flexibility to extend functionality to meet niche requirements by using Microsoft .NET customisation. Furthermore, SharePoint can provide integration into existing collaboration technologies such as Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft Office. Waterstons Consultants worked in partnership with BDP to design and deliver a range of collaboration functionality across the practice worldwide, by firstly extending their existing corporate intranet onto the new platform and subsequently launching functionality under the Planet identity. The strategy comprised three key areas:
Improvements to the distribution of corporate information throughout the practice has been delivered through a new Corporate Intranet encompassing improvements to the way news is presented; and the addition of profession and sector sites with centralised document libraries. Content is created and edited by a large and dispersed editor group. In addition, Waterstons has developed bespoke styling controls to allow BDP greater control over the look and feel of their intranet identity.
With interdisciplinary teams at the heart of BDP’s philosophy, it was necessary to provide centralised people profile information. By extending the MySite functionality within Microsoft SharePoint, the People Pages were configured to include contact information, profession and location information, an informal Curriculum Vitae and details of internal committee membership. Key to this was the ability to search and connect individuals, critical for team integration and project mobilisation in a multi-dimensional environment.
The design process is fundamental to delivering projects within the practice and it is vital that relevant information (for example; procedures, guidance documentation or proformas) is understood by project teams and accessible in a clear structure related to project stages. To address this, a portal was developed that laid out the process using a graphical interface and linked the relevant information to specific activities. The content in the portal is managed and controlled using the electronic document management functionality built into Microsoft SharePoint and is accessible by all project team members. BDP Authors have the ability to amend the graphical process layout within the portal and collaborate, approve and publish the correlating information.
With Waterstons’ help, Planet has been designed and implemented in-line with the core BDP design principles of providing the highest quality through integrated, interdisciplinary teams. Fundamental to this concept is the ability to collaborate and communicate information efficiently with relevant team members, freeing up more time to concentrate on producing a quality design. By concentrating on the concepts of Practice, People and Design Process, the solution has enabled BDP to:
- Centralise multi-dimensional content from across the organisation into a central repository.
- Provide an environment for managed communication with a decentralised editing community.
- Quickly connect geographically dispersed people, ensuring that the disciplines have the best access to relevant information.
- Make the people, across the business, more visible, fostering a greater sense of community, improving interpersonal communication and making the identification of unusual skills easier.
- Provide a robust technology solution supporting all project teams and improving the delivery of projects throughout the practice.
Today, the BDP Content Management Group and Waterstons are continuing to enhance the Planet solution and are demonstrating that high quality design and performance can be achieved through technology.
Waterstons have been very willing to listen to our specific needs and work with us to develop solutions with a low management overhead.Matt Sheard Intranet Editor, BDP