BAE Systems is a global defense, aerospace and security company employing around 93,500 people worldwide. The company’s wide-ranging products and services cover air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology, and support services. BAE Systems manufactures military equipment for submarines, aircraft carriers, war planes, and tanks..
As a global defense contractor, documents are a critical part of BAE Systems business. Beyond the intellectual value of documents, there is also a legal obligation to retain records of documents that contain legally binding commitments such as contracts, specifications, and project plans for extended periods of time.. As a geographically-distributed company, BAE Systems was struggling to implement a uniform record retention policy across business units and geographies. The inability to locate and produce important records in a timely manner can have enormous financial and legal implications for BAE Systems, so solving the problem became a key business initiative on a global scale.
BAE Systems realized there were several parts they needed to address namely, locating the technology needed to manage the records and enforce record retention and disposal policies, and educating and motivating the workforce to comply with the new policy.
The BAE Strategy
Recognizing the inconsistent handling of important records management, BAE Systems defined a global Document Creation Retention and Disposal (DCRD) Policy, to which all business units had to comply. To enforce the policy, BAE launched Project Olympia to implement a set of information technologies and educational directives that would ensure global compliance with the new DCRD policy.
To ensure that documents and email messages classifications were compliant with DCRD, BAE Systems turned to document metadata and document content types.
Content Types and Metadata
Document metadata and content types are properties that are used to detail information about a document. In large organizations with many document types, metadata can be quite complex. So the challenge of defining sufficient metadata to suit the many business units and geographies while remaining simple enough to deploy and use, was central to the success of Project Olympia. Fourteen metadata fields were eventually defined; four fields related to the record retention process, and 10 fields to provide for granular classification of documents. For example, metadata fields describe local project activity, identify business units, and specify defense classifications – such as security levels, export controls, and originating location of the document (i.e. inside or outside BAE). While metadata fields may vary slightly from country to country, metadata is mostly aligned across home offices.
BAE Systems had a number of existing options available for implementing a document and records management solution, including Oracle UCM/URM and Autonomy. SharePoint 2010 was selected, however, because its use was heavily used across many local markets. BAE Systems chose to use SharePoint 2010’s Records Centre as the place to host and manage records for their retention duration. However, BAE Systems realized that SharePoint alone was not enough to provide a complete solution. Additional pieces were needed.
BAE Systems selected harmon.ie to solve key SharePoint functional shortcomings. With harmon.ie, the record capture and classification process now conform to the user’s existing daily work habits; little or no employee training was needed. Three other solutions were evaluated, but harmon.ie’s “user experience was superior to the competition” and harmon.ie’s technical support proved second to none.
How Does It Work?
Like most workers, BAE Systems employees spend a large portion of their day in their Microsoft Outlook email application. harmon.ie is a sidebar in Outlook (see below).
With harmon.ie, when an employee wants to save a document or email, they merely drag it from their email window directly into a folder into the harmon.ie sidebar, whereupon it gets automatically uploaded into SharePoint.
During the upload, metadata values for the document content type are automatically added to the document’s properties in SharePoint, in a process completely transparent to the end user. For the remaining metadata fields, harmon.ie displays a simple to use “Properties Editor” (shown below) that prompts the user to specify data, mostly from a set of pre-populated choices. To ensure accurate classification, users are not allowed to complete the upload process without completing the required set of metadata values.
The end result? Large numbers of documents and email messages are uploaded to SharePoint and classified according to the BAE Systems policy, without requiring employees to change they already work today.
Australia was selected for as the location for a pilot of Project Olympia. A team of 15 information management staff at BAE Systems Australia were joined by counterparts from the US and UK operations to develop an underlying solution to handle records and document management globally.
The Project Olympia team was given 9 months to create a working pilot. This was completed successfully on schedule in September 2011. Establishing the pilot across three business groups required a series major systems upgrades; from Office 2003 to 2010, SharePoint 2007 to 2010 and Exchange 2010 as well as implementing Microsoft Lync 2010. harmon.ie was deployed during the system upgrade as part of the BAE desktop. The program has subsequently being extended to the UK and other home markets, now numbering over 6,000 employees.
Over last 6 months, the uptake of SharePoint has increased to 65%; significantly higher than prior to the harmon.ie rollout. Furthermore, important documents and email messages are now being stored in SharePoint, making the Olympia vision a reality.
Looking Forward – Knowledge Management, Mobile, and Social
Records management is just the first step of document management at BAE Systems. With the vast bulk of important documents and email messages now eminently searchable in a centralized location, BAE Systems can leverage the knowledge stored in them. There is also a growing need for mobile access on tablets to SharePoint, with managers leading the pack. A BYOD policy is now being formulated to facilitate remote access to SharePoint. Lastly, in the future, BAE Systems workers will search for expertise using SharePoint profiles. harmon.ie fulfills all these business needs, so BAE will be able to leverage its harmon.ie investment to address future needs.