ESDC Executive Director Business Solutions and Information Management at ESDC
Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) is the department of the Government of Canada responsible for developing, managing and delivering social programs and services, including employment insurance, pension plan, old age security, guaranteed income supplement benefits, and more. ESDC employs about 32,000 workers, of which 60-70% are regional employees, and 30-40% are employed in Ottawa. It distributes approximately C$120B to Canadians every year.
Prior to the COVID pandemic, ESDC used file shares and SharePoint 2010 for content storage. Use of SharePoint 2010 was voluntary. In addition, ESDC initiated a pilot of GCDocs, the Government of Canada's hosted, government-wide solution for archiving and records.
Then COVID hit, and mailboxes ‘exploded’ because people were sending attachments for work offline. ESDC needed a way to help its employees focus on work and collaborate effectively without making employees spend valuable time and effort on information management (IM). As a government agency, ESDC also had to meet the comprehensive WCAG2.1 / EN 301 549 Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
To provide a rapid and comprehensive remote work solution for employees, ESDC adopted Microsoft 365 for online meetings and document storage; with a goal of migrating an astonishing 30,000 employees to Microsoft 365 in just 3 months!
To expedite Microsoft 365 adoption, ESDC needed a way to easily migrate content to Microsoft 365. Key requirements included the ability to capture, classify, and share important emails and document attachments with remote colleagues, eliminate ‘document chaos’ associated with sharing document attachments, and verify that people had access to a file before sharing it with them.
ESDC reached out to other Canadian agencies and these organizations recommended harmon.ie. harmon.ie is already in use in other Canadian government agencies and Crown corporations, including Library and Archives Canada, Agriculture and Agri-food Canada (AAFC), Canada Post, Justice Canada, and many others.
Alexandre Singh, ESDC Executive Director Business Solutions and Information Management, explains why harmon.ie was selected: “We wanted to make sure people had a tool that could be used from Outlook. The mapping of metadata makes it a lot easier and more acceptable for people to start storing their emails in Microsoft 365. We also realized a bonus in that harmon.ie could help us migrate data from Outlook to SharePoint Online, and as a result, reduce mailbox size.”
Importantly, ESDC relied upon Orangutech, harmon.ie’s Canadian partner and a trusted partner of the Canadian government.
“We are in the early days of adopting harmon.ie,” says Singh. “We’ve demo-ed harmon.ie to some executives, and the harmon.ie project is a priority for the department. We are starting with people who are using SharePoint 2010 and Teams. We believe it is important to not look at this as just dropping a plug-in into an existing tool. We want to engage with the people who are using attachments as part of their work, to make sure we get their perspective. We have finalized our metadata requirements and we are starting a larger harmon.ie pilot group in September 2021.”
Singh explains the plans for harmon.ie at ESDC:
Orangutech is an Ottawa-based Microsoft Gold Certified Partner in three areas: Cloud Productivity, Collaboration and Content, and Application Development. Founded in 2003, Orangutech helps clients modernize their workplace while maximizing user adoption and effective collaboration using Microsoft-centric services and software. Orangutech is Ottawa’s recognized leader in developing roadmaps and architectures for Microsoft 365, SharePoint, EDRMS in M365, SharePoint to GCDocs, and Dynamics 365.