Centralized Systems Further Humanitarian Causes: An Abel Solutions Development Case Study

CARE had previously migrated from a basic data portal (used since 2000) to Windows SharePoint Server (WSS) 3.0, running a pilot program in Sudan and eventually rolling out WSS to 20+ locations. In fall 2006, Microsoft donated Enterprise 2003 licenses to CARE, making it feasible to transition to the more powerful Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007.

Over time, CARE found itself with an inorganic, fragmented collection of MOSS and WSS 3.0 sites. CARE was also incurring maintenance fees for an outdated portal solution that was providing increasingly fewer benefits.

During its early days with MOSS, CARE engaged Abel Solutions to develop an organizational performance management tool. Although the performance management tool was one of many successes, CARE struggled for three years with limited capability or expertise to centralize a complete enterprise solution and reap the full benefits of MOSS. In late 2009, CARE returned to Abel Solutions for assistance. “We weren’t able to search, leverage security or do much with publishing, document collaboration, centralizing information repositories and more across the many MOSS sites,” notes Greg Sjogren, Director of Global ICT Solutions. “The only way people could access information was if they remembered the URL.”

Because CARE wanted to implement the strategy using in-house resources, Abel Solutions would create the plan and the roadmap and then turn the project over to CARE. Abel Solutions determined the appropriate site topology and hierarchy for CARE’s current MOSS and WSS sites and potential new sites. They then developed a plan for consolidating the systems with a high-level information architecture, secured access and universal search capabilities — including search of archived documents not residing in the MOSS repository. Abel Solutions also developed a concrete migration plan that CARE could use to complete the migration to the new MOSS platform.

Specific components CARE requested of the final product included a global navigational structure and a MOSS site that replicated and replaced CARE’s outdated software portal. CARE also wanted a process whereby users could make new site requests and, if approved, they could be generated dynamically at the appropriate point in the site collection hierarchy. The user would then be notified automatically by email that the site was ready.

The resulting benefits from CARE’s partnership with Abel Solutions are varied and widespread. With self-service site-creation, small teams and initiatives can easily request collaboration space for file sharing, discussion forums and calendaring. Abel Solutions also helped CARE initiate a process for letting its multi-national users get documents into Google Translate for fast, machine-based translation.

Other results translate to bottom-line benefits. These include the reduction in training costs that comes with having a consistent navigational structure. Abel Solutions also helped CARE establish a structure for its information sharing and collaboration among country offices that ensures global navigation and security.