Digital marketing and event solutions agency Cramer wanted to centralize key areas of information to offer a strong collaboration and search portal for its 175 employees. With its partner, Knowledge Management Associates, Inc., Cramer established a SharePoint intranet. Since its launch, the portal is used for organizing project teams and the information that they need to access and provides a central source for corporate and departmental information.
Cramer is a Boston-area agency specializing in digital marketing and event solutions. With many dynamic project teams, working on numerous client programs in a variety of media (including events, websites, videos, animation, print and more), many of its internal collaboration resources were home-grown for some clients, teams and departments. The agency had been using e-mail, network file shares, wikis and instant-messaging programs to communicate and collaborate internally. None of these technologies provided sufficient options for collaboration or a coordinated way to search for files. Furthermore, with no effective way to control file proliferation and archive obsolete files, the demand for storage capacity continued to grow at a level of one terabyte per year.
To maintain content and brand consistency, Cramer needed a system for management and version control of templates, budgets, forms and other data in a central repository that would increase efficiency in proposal development and help support the sales team.
In addition, the company needed a centralized communication portal to be able to target information to specific internal audiences, invite discussion, keep everyone up to date on company and industry news. Cramer needed a solution that would provide both remote and in-office employees with a centralized repository for communications, resources and tools.
Cramer sought an intranet platform that would promote collaboration, search and integration of its line-of-business functions so that employees would be more unified in their project approach and could find the information they needed faster and more reliably.
||SharePoint has been a terrific addition to our internal communications, allowing us to centralize information and resources in new and more efficient ways. It’s the first thing I check every morning; and it’s been a great way to connect all of our staff, many of whom travel frequently. We continue to find new ways to use this great internal communication tool.
Founder and CEO
After evaluating potential technology partners, Cramer selected Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Knowledge Management Associates Inc. (KMA) of Waltham, Mass., to provide a solution. KMA recommended the creation of a company-wide intranet using Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. Cramer had been using Microsoft Dynamics SL 6.0 as its ERP system and had invested heavily in other Microsoft technology, such as Microsoft SQL Server 2005, Windows Server 2003 and Office 2007; so the choice of SharePoint to provide a portal to all of the agency’s data promised exactly the kind of integration that Cramer sought.
Its SharePoint-based intranet furnishes Cramer with a centralized repository for the agency’s files. The agency was able to tag text, graphics and media files easily, organizing this data for better access than with its previous systems, where information had been scattered across a number of locations rendering it unsearchable. Now when an employee searches by unique project number, which all projects are assigned, all the associated files are returned in the search results. Project numbers are maintained in the Microsoft Dynamics SL 6.0 financial system which KMA integrated with SharePoint so that, when employees need to tag a file, they can seamlessly look up that project number.
For an agency such as Cramer, its brand is crucial. For this reason, the portal was branded with the agency’s logo and full color scheme. The portal’s name itself, “Cramerville,” was chosen after a company-wide naming competition brought in more than 75 nominations. The site’s home page offers an aggregation of sections and webparts for everything from examples of Cramer’s work to area weather forecasts, lunch menus, family pictures and polls, with each section reflecting a real sense of the company’s brand and personality.
Since it began using its SharePoint intranet site, employee productivity has increased, storage costs have dropped and employee connectivity is improved.
In the first 60 days, Cramer employees saved an average of one hour per month, translating to a projected annual savings of $75,000 in 2008.
Because storage growth slowed, the agency saved $6,000 in 2008 for an additional terabyte of storage hardware.
The company’s CEO, who has been impressed by Cramerville, promotes using it heavily and even wants to host his own blog on it, offering a new way to communicate with employees and customers.
The agency now has a Proposal Toolkit. This collection of best practices, industry research, boilerplate copy, team bios, and such creative elements as visual imagery, themes and messaging (all searchable) has resulted in highly efficient development of proposals.
Forms for human resources and IT that were formerly paper-based are now filled out and submitted electronically.
Cramer offers a unique employee benefit: an in-house café with executive chef and kitchen staff. The ever-popular sandwich orders now are sent to the executive chef electronically, enabling him to organize his meal preparation and share recipes with employees.
Cramer has a program that gives employees the opportunity to submit an idea to enhance the company’s image, save money, improve a business process or increase revenue in exchange for a cash reward if their idea is implemented. Taking this program online has increased visibility and doubled employee participation.
Surveyed six weeks after the SharePoint launch, employees offered these comments, among others, on what they liked most about Cramerville: “I can find every form I need,” “Easy access to everything,” ”More intuitive organization of materials,” “Everything I need in one place,” and “The more I use it, the more I love it.”