The first phase of the project was the installation and configuration of an intranet on SharePoint. This involved the implementation of SharePoint as well as content management consulting to ensure that the intranet, once launched, had information on it - a critical success factor that Airborne have identified for corporate intranets. The solution was designed, configured and ready for release after just five weeks.
The intranet was a critical choice for the first Web application build, as this would serve as the starting point for all content that will eventually be displayed in the corporate extranet and Internet Web sites.
This is also the most heavily utilised site of the three, as all 200 staff store their critical business documentation on here on a daily basis.
The second phase of the project was building an extranet. A separate Web application was implemented on the existing SharePoint instance and forms-based authentication was used to allow Masthead's 3 000+ broker community access to pertinent information. Previously this information was cut to over 3 000 DVDs and disseminated country-wide at a high cost to Masthead.
Custom solutions are regularly built on the extranet within a short space of time, using the standard functionality, to facilitate events that Masthead hosts every year, and members use it to RSVP, book and communicate with Masthead staff.
Masthead has also commissioned many custom-developed Web solutions through the years built on a variety of platforms, from Classic ASP to .NET. These are all hosted externally from the Web application, but shelled through the SharePoint site to create a seamless look and feel.
The final phase of the project was the implementation of Masthead's Web site onto the SharePoint platform. The shared information across the three Web applications allowed Masthead a lower cost of ownership, as the ongoing content management changes needed could easily be facilitated by Masthead staff, with no third-party costs needed to make changes to the Web site, or any of the other Web applications hosted on SharePoint.
The implementation of SharePoint as Masthead's communication and collaboration solution has enhanced the business's ability to effectively communicate with its stakeholders via the Internet on a real time basis, and provides a distinct competitive advantage.
The successful and speedy turnaround of all three phases of the solution is directly attributable to a few important factors:
- The SharePoint solution was applied using “out of the box” functionality, keeping customisation to a minimum.
- There was close collaboration with the external marketing organization that ensured the SharePoint design parameters were adhered to.
- There was significant buy-in and support from the Masthead marketing division and executive management. Marketing were intimately involved in the project scoping phase and actively promoted the solutions during the development phase.