Russell Investments is headquartered in Tacoma, Washington. As Russell expanded globally, it sought search solutions to keep up with the requirements of a multilingual workforce. Russell chose Microsoft® Office SharePoint® Server 2007 for its strategic value as an enterprise-scale information management solution and for its integrated search capabilities. Enterprise Search can crawl multiple corporate data stores and information workers are finding information for better portfolio analysis with a 75 percent improvement in search results relevancy. The Tokyo office staff can search content in kanji for the first time. Writers working on requests for proposals are using Enterprise Search to expedite Russell bids for new work. And globally, more than 1,000 times a day, staff members are using the new solution to connect with each other, building a cohesive, competitive workforce.
Founded in 1936, Russell Investments is an investment firm with global reach, providing investment products and services to individuals and institutions in 47 countries. A subsidiary of Northwestern Mutual, Russell is a pioneer in multi-manager investing and the creator of Russell Indexes.
||We needed some fundamental improvements to our global collaboration capabilities.
||Senior Technology Consultant
Corporate IT, Russell Investments
Russell’s early business centered on consulting to pension plan sponsors for large corporations, and the Russell Indexes were created for use in this work. Through the decades the company expanded into fund management and global markets. Russell sets itself apart from other investment firms by its in-depth research into investment managers and objectively combining their individual strengths into multi-manager products. This process enables Russell to select and package leading money managers, delivering investors the benefits of long-term diversification, active management, and goal-oriented planning.
Outdated IT Infrastructure
For many growing companies, developing new business and creating a competitive advantage can take precedence over building a scalable IT infrastructure capable of adapting to changing corporate strategies. As Russell expanded its global reach and product offerings, its communication and collaboration technologies were challenged by the requirements of an increasingly dispersed workforce—as was its search solution.
“We needed some fundamental improvements to our global collaboration capabilities,” says the Russell Investment Director of Data & Information Management. “We had no central location to store documents. People used file shares, or an older document management system, or [they] simply stored information on their hard drives.”
Russell used an Interwoven TeamSite solution to manage content on its corporate intranet. However, a few isolated sites were built using the Microsoft® FrontPage® Web site creation and management tool, most notably the company’s Japanese intranet site called Daruma. Russell wanted to replace these siloed information stores and incompatible Web environments with an enterprise-level collaboration solution and deliver an integrated search solution that connects to multiple repositories so employees could more easily find, use, and share information.
Poor Search Capabilities
According to one member of the Technology Consulting Services Team, which provides strategic direction for the company’s overall IT infrastructure “People at global offices and in headquarters were simply not using the old search tool because it hadn’t been maintained and supported. So that meant that the content on the Russell intranet was not being found or consumed.”
Poor search impeded productivity for teams working throughout Russell. For example, the group of writers that responds to request for proposals (RFPs) sent by large institutions did not have an adequate tool to look for information they needed to fill out the RFPs. All RFPs have similar questions and in order to quickly fill those out, Russell RFP writers searched through a store of commonly asked questions and answers using the search tool in a third-party application called RFP Machine. However, writers could only search by keywords or synonyms, which reduced their productivity and the value of the application.
||With Office SharePoint Server 2007, we gained a flexible collaboration and information management environment, and a powerful integrated search tool at no extra cost.
||Dawn Overbeck SharePoint Product Owner, Corporate IT, Russell Investments
For those questions that are unique to a proposal, writers have to dig deeper for their answers, using Windows® Explorer to search through Microsoft Office Word documents they had stored in a special folder. Windows Explorer is the file-manager with integrated search capabilities that’s built into the Windows operating system—in this case the Windows XP operating system that Russell Investments has running on its PCs. “If the writers can’t find what they are looking for, the next step is to go to subject matter experts and wait for their written response,” says Deanna Stevenson, Database and Production Coordinator at Russell Investments. “It was taking too long to complete RFPs, and we ran the risk of having the subject matter experts rewrite an answer that might already exist somewhere digitally.”
Within the Global Finance Department, there were other challenges. For example, if a staff member responsible for processing invoices didn’t know exactly which cost center to bill, it was difficult to solve the problem. Russell didn’t have a searchable list of cost centers. “This meant that on the corporate finance side we didn’t have as clear an understanding of each person’s cost center, and it took longer to process some invoices,” says Colleen Parker, Senior User Experience Analyst at Russell Investments.
Russell also needed a new search solution for its global address book. IT had streamlined the process of maintaining an up-to-date address book by creating a data feed from its PeopleSoft enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to populate current names and contact information into its Active Directory® Domain Service. The Senior Technology Consultant adds: “Previously, the only results people would get from searching the address book would be names and numbers or lists of people in a specific department. We wanted to enrich the search results to include photos and profiles.”
Looking for Integrated, Global Search
The Technology Consulting Services Team wanted to replace point solutions with a standardized collaboration infrastructure that would provide a common set of tools for overall information management, including search tools.
According to the technology consultant, “we were looking at how to keep folks in touch with each other in ways that didn’t overload inboxes, cause folder replication problems, or drive up phone and travel costs. But when you talk about information management, you also talk about search: How do we ensure easy access to the information our employees need to do their jobs? So we realized we needed a consolidated information management environment combined with an enterprise-scale search engine.”
Russell Investments chose Microsoft Office SharePoint® Server 2007. The company deployed Office SharePoint Server 2007 globally as a collaboration tool in May 2007. Then it rolled out Enterprise Search throughout 2008.
First, Russell worked with Microsoft Services to deploy Enterprise Search at the Daruma site. Enterprise Search in Office SharePoint Server 2007 incorporates business data along with information about documents, people, and Web pages to produce comprehensive, relevant results. Russell chose the Daruma site for its first deployment of Enterprise Search because the office had identified a need to search kanji content and this is a native capability within Enterprise Search. Kanji are Chinese characters that Japanese use in written language.
“With Office SharePoint Server 2007, we gained a flexible collaboration and information management environment, and a powerful integrated search tool at no extra cost," says the Technology Consultant. "Office SharePoint Server 2007 has all the scalability and functionality we need for our long-term information management goals.”
|The multilingual search and Enterprise Search feature enables Tokyo employees to search in kanji. |
Enabling Multilingual Search
For the Daruma site, Tokyo IT staff had been evaluating an open source solution. However, after acquiring Office SharePoint Server 2007, the Technology Consulting Services Team stepped in with an alternative idea. The Data & Information Management Director suggested it would be more cost effective to deploy the new Enterprise Search solution. “We showed our Tokyo associates that we could not only index their kanji content so they could search in kanji, but we could also integrate the search pages into their regular intranet site so they wouldn’t have to switch back and forth between the Enterprise Search environment and their intranet environment,” she says.
“We had two dedicated Microsoft consultants who helped us enable multilingual search on the Daruma site,” the Russell Technology Consultant adds. “Japanese language phrases break differently across words compared to English. We had to set the browser with a default for Japanese, otherwise when you make your query Enterprise Search doesn’t know how to break the words. The support was built into Office SharePoint Server; all we had to do was to expose the features correctly.” (See Figure 1.)
Opening Up the U.S. Intranet to Search
The Russell IT team used its experience in Tokyo to evangelize Office SharePoint Server 2007 in the United States. The Tokyo site demonstrated the ease of use of the Enterprise Search feature in Office SharePoint Server. The team urged business users and department heads at the Tacoma headquarters to start using Office SharePoint Server 2007 to sponsor collaborative team sites and deploy Enterprise Search.
“We have adopted a grassroots deployment approach because Office SharePoint Server–based technologies are so user-friendly,” notes the Technology Consultant. “The more ownership business users take of their sites and departmental processes, the better. And the number of sites is growing quickly on the Tacoma/U.S intranet: in the first 9 months, more than 200 team sites were deployed. More than 1,600 employees are using Enterprise Search for these sites. We also have departmental sites that are being developed on Office SharePoint Server.”
The Corporate Finance Site was the first Office SharePoint Server 2007 intranet site launched on the U.S. intranet: it is used as a communication portal for the corporation. Amy Betts, Executive Sponsor for the Corporate Finance Site at Russell Investments, took ownership of the site.
“There are many different information types and processes within corporate finance, and it’s confusing for people to find what they need,” says Betts. “Now when we add content to the site—a contact, a document, or a list, for example—we make sure to assign the process that content is associated with as searchable criteria. That way, people can get search results—for example all the tasks, calendar events, or documents—related to
||Office SharePoint Server 2007 is a strategic investment for Russell that helps IT answer the needs of the business, search being one of them.
||Senior Technology Consultant Corporate IT, Russell Investments
a specific process. We also define different cost centers by the list of properties that we have assigned to them. The list is searchable on any one of those properties using Enterprise Search.”
Stevenson also saw the value of improved search capabilities for the RFP writers and worked with IT to build her team site. She customized the Office SharePoint Server search solution to suit the team’s requirements. “We launched the site in May 2008, and it’s been really exciting,” she says. “The Office SharePoint Server technology is so intuitive that I’ve been able to figure out most things for myself.”
For example, Stevenson used the enhanced query syntax to include support for property-based searching so now the writers can search documents by name, author, date of publication, type of proposal, or by sales director. “I make sure that the Word document's properties are completed with the Author field containing the same name each time for the writer,” she explains. “I also make sure that the Word document's properties are completed with comments and titles.”
By consistently using acronyms that show the type of document [type of investments, for example], the documents can be searched by property. “We get better search results by using the same format and keywords for dates, authors and prospects,” explains Stevenson.”
Searching the Address Book
Office SharePoint Server 2007 has built-in support for searching and retrieving Active Directory contacts and distribution lists, and can align group results by social distance from one another and by common interest. Russell IT configured Office SharePoint Server 2007 to input employee profiles from Active Directory. The IT team built a custom page based on the default My Profile page within the Office SharePoint Server My Site feature that can be used for performing people searches at Russell Investments.
“We created an easy-to-use version of the Office SharePoint Server My Profile page for the directory, which has just the phone and location information, reporting relationships, and My Links,” says the Russell Technology Consultant. “When you enter a name, you get the contact information and a photo of that person, and if you click on any of the active elements on the profile page, such as My Department, you can do additional searches.”
With Enterprise Search in Office SharePoint Server 2007, Russell acquired a superior search tool that is an integral part of its business productivity infrastructure. In addition to search, Russell gained an extensible information management solution that will increase collaboration and communication among a global workforce.
“Office SharePoint Server 2007 is a strategic investment for Russell that helps IT answer the needs of the business, search being one of them,” the Consultant confirms. “We get an enterprise search engine deployed in the context of a powerful information management infrastructure so people can act immediately on their search results.”
Empowering IT to Support the Business
By taking advantage of the capabilities of Enterprise Search in Office SharePoint Server 2007, IT staff at Russell can deliver a search engine that works. Now employees have a better tool to find each other, as well as the business information they need. When asked about the benefits for Russell of using Enterprise Search, the Technology Consultant is blunt: “Now we have search. In some instances we went from no search, such as on the Daruma site, to having a reliable tool that delivers relevant, multilingual results. It’s hard to quantify those benefits for the end user, but for IT, it’s a gratifying opportunity to deliver real business value. Compared to the open-source solution that was being considered, we are going to save an untold amount of money through seamless integration into our Microsoft-based environment and more straightforward support.”
Enabling Multilingual Search
In Tokyo, 135 Russell staff members can now search the 2,600 Office Word documents, Microsoft Office Excel® spreadsheets, HTML pages, and PDF documents that contain kanji on their intranet site. “For a global organization, multilingual search capability is a real boon,” says the Director of Data & Information Management.
Improving Productivity Through Search
With Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Enterprise Search, Russell has a comprehensive search solution capable of meeting all its search requirements.
Russell information workers have a single collaboration tool delivering enterprise search functionality that’s scalable, extensible, and manageable at the business-user level. The end result is that people across the company are working with a user-friendly tool that’s delivering tangible business value in their everyday work lives.
“Compared to our previous tools, Office SharePoint Server 2007 Enterprise Search delivers a marked improvement on search results relevance,” says Parker. “That’s adds up to a lot less time wasted trying to find what we need to do our work.”
Productivity enhancements also translate into more responsive customer service at Russell.
Now that Betts and her colleagues have enabled search on a list of cost center properties, Russell employees are gaining a better understanding of cost centers and how to allocate invoices correctly.
Connecting with Colleagues
More than 1,000 times a day, Russell employees are using the improved people search enabled through the SharePoint My Profile sites. “People search represents between 75 and 90 percent of all search activity on any given day,” reports the Senior Technology Consultant. “For a globally dispersed organization, this has been a very popular way for employees to find colleagues and make connections that are good for business productivity.”
These are only the beginning steps for Enterprise Search at Russell Investments. “Office SharePoint Server 2007 is a long-term, low-risk search infrastructure for the enterprise,” concludes the Consultant. “With Enterprise Search, we can extend search beyond documents and across repositories to build our productivity and maintain our competitive edge.”
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