4-page Case Study
Posted: 5/31/2012
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California Department of Corrections California Corrections Unit Boosts Information Accuracy, Speeds Delivery 400 Percent

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) does more with less in part by giving employees immediate access to current, accurate, and consistent information with which to make better, data-driven decisions. To achieve this access and availability, CDCR created collaboration and business information portals by using Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007. Early adopters used business analytics and desktop productivity tools to enhance internal business processes and increase productivity. CDCR decentralized the portals, enabling its business units to customize workflows and document management processes that increased operational efficiency by 400 percent, compared to using hypertext webpages. The CDCR's Enterprise Information Services division now creates and expands collaboration team sites in half the time and at half the cost needed with a previous web content platform.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) includes 33 institutions, three juvenile facilities, and about 65,000 employees across the state. Its business and demographic information is housed in databases on various platforms in a range of formats within its production systems and business units. Distributing administrative and business information to the right people in a timely and comprehensive way is essential to the prison system’s safe and effective operation. But, given the department’s size and complexity, that’s easier said than done.

In recent years, information was unintentionally kept in systems and desktop productivity tools that did not communicate or interoperate with each other. Information resided in or custom databases that were difficult to find or access and in formats and quantities that made it difficult for administrators to gather the insights that they needed. At fault was an information infrastructure that consisted largely of email, older web services that delivered static HTML pages, and decentralized file servers that hosted documentation. There was no intranet that provided a dynamic way for staff to share new and archived information, collaborate, and apply business intelligence tools throughout the enterprise.

“It was often difficult to track performance in our divisions and facilities in a timely way, and to identify changes in levels of safety, security, programs, finance, and operations,” says Andrea Rohmann, Chief Information Officer for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

* We’re finding that SharePoint Server isn’t just a collaboration platform. It’s a services platform that we turn to first whenever a new business need arises.
Joe Panora
Director, Enterprise Information Services,
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Because data aggregation was typically keyed in manually, it was time-consuming and prone to error. It was also challenging for administrators to collaborate on projects or plans based on the data, because they could be working from inconsistent or incomplete information.

“These challenges were real—but they were also an opportunity to address our overall internal information and collaboration infrastructure,” says Joe Panora, Director, Enterprise Information Services (EIS), at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. “We had a common need throughout the department to do a better job managing the creation, sharing, and use of information. We needed an equally common solution.”

The seed of that solution had already been sown at CDCR in the form of a small pilot test or proof of concept of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. (CDCR is in the process of updating this software to Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010.) That pilot focused on the capacity of SharePoint Server for document management and sharing. It also gave the department insight into other capabilities of the software.

“The standard features of SharePoint Server were the tools we wanted for information and collaboration: a common document library, team sites, announcements and business content that could be changed easily and frequently, team calendars—even security that provides site access to authorized users, such as suppliers, from outside the department,” says Deborah Hysen, the previous Deputy Director, Facility Planning, Construction and Management, at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. “In SharePoint Server, we saw what we needed to manage the massive projects mandated by the legislature.”

Collaboration on Major Initiatives
Hysen’s group was among the first to use SharePoint technology to help manage responsibilities. It used SharePoint Server to promote collaboration and planning with key stakeholders on major initiatives, such as responding to Assembly Bill (AB) 900, Prison Construction and Rehabilitation, and 2011’s AB 109, mandating major shifts and reorganizations in the prison population.

EIS staff worked with Enterprise Networking Solutions (ENS), a Microsoft Partner Network member with multiple Gold competencies, to design and deploy that solution—and, soon after, CDCR’s broader, SharePoint-based intranet. “ENS understands the challenges facing government entities, and it understands SharePoint Server,” says Panora. “They were very helpful in our adoption of this technology.”

The EIS division found SharePoint Server easy to adopt. “Deploying SharePoint Server was a great business decision, because it’s the natural extension of a tool we had already started to use,” says Bill Buffington, EIS Manager of Enterprise Web and Collaboration Solutions at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Indicators for Performance Tracking
Divisions and offices within CDCR took note of the early work being done with SharePoint Server—and adopted the technology to increase their productivity and to disseminate timely information to their business units. This momentum for SharePoint Server is what led to the creation of CDCR’s first true intranet.

One of the divisions that relies on the intranet most often is COMPSTAT, CDCR’s program for tracking the performance of each institution, division, and administrative office. Before it adopted SharePoint Server, COMPSTAT oversaw a process in which business managers and analysts at each of the 33 institutions in the department collected data in nonstandard formats and sent it to headquarters through email, fax, and telephones, where it was aggregated and distributed to executive staff. The result was incomplete and inconsistent information.

“COMPSTAT replaced our manual process with an automated one that uses SharePoint workflow and business intelligence, with the results accessible via highly graphical SharePoint dashboards,” says Larry J. Carr, PhD, Chief of COMPSTAT at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. External users, including the Office of the Inspector General and the State Legislature, access department-wide data for auditing and other purposes, while local wardens and administrators use facility-level views to assess and manage their facilities and inmate populations.

Figure 1.
Figure 1. Through a SharePoint Server dashboard, executives gain at-a-glance
information on the status of key goals.
Strategic Planning
Another division that frequently uses the solution is the CDCR Office of the Secretary, which was responsible for the department-wide 2010 strategic plan. The planning process involved 26 planning teams, in addition to a board committee that consisted of about 15 top-level executives and senior managers.

“We used SharePoint Server to achieve the outcome-based performance management reporting system we had long sought,” says Lee Seale, Director of Internal Oversight and Research at the CDCR Office of the Secretary.

Under this management reporting system, the Office of the Secretary identifies and focuses its resources on key performance indicators (KPIs) that measure progress toward the department’s four primary goals and 26 underlying objectives. Executives and managers access the KPIs through online dashboards that were built by using PerformancePoint Services in SharePoint Server (Figure 1). The dashboard KPIs are linked to the relevant objectives, so users get at-a-glance views not only of the KPIs, but also of overall progress on the goals and objectives associated with them (Figure 2).

From Rehabilitation to Human Resources
Divisions and offices throughout CDCR continue to find new uses for SharePoint Server, making the department one of the largest users of SharePoint technology in California State government. CDCR uses the technology for information gathering and analysis in areas as diverse as substance abuse rehabilitation programs and human resources. In the former, it is used to confirm that inmates are receiving the right quantity and level of services, and that the various service providers are delivering their services according to contractual requirements. In the latter, the human resources team uses SharePoint technology to track workload completion and employee performance.The biggest use of SharePoint technology at CDCR may be for collaboration. “We went from having no enterprise collaboration tools to having almost 600 team sites and 7,100 users, with more sites and more users added every week,” says Rohmann, the CIO. Document approval cycles are expedited by CDCR’s use of SharePoint libraries, workflows, and notifications. Planning projects are facilitated by team sites that bring together relevant documentation, applications, team calendars, and Microsoft InfoPath forms in “one-stop” locations that are easily accessible to team members.

Department executives envision using SharePoint Server to further improve information access and collaboration—such as making CDCR’s SAP data and applications more available to employees. “We intend to adopt Duet Enterprise for Microsoft SharePoint and SAP,” says Rohmann. “Our executives and managers will use Duet Enterprise to access and work with SAP applications and data through the familiar, easy-to-use interface of SharePoint Server.”

Figure 2.
Figure 2. This dashboard view ties KPIs to progress on goals and underlying 
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation uses SharePoint Server to get more accurate information—more quickly and cost effectively—to the employees who need it, and to give them tools to collaborate more fully in their use of that data, leading to greater efficiency and effectiveness.

Publishes Updated Information Four Times Faster
A key goal of CDCR’s adoption of SharePoint Server was to improve information sharing in order to boost productivity among a growing and increasingly dispersed organization.

How has it fared? “We are a more effective workforce because of our use of SharePoint Server,” says Panora. “We have the collaboration tools we need to bring together employees who may work in different divisions or different parts of the state. That’s no longer the obstacle it used to be.”

For example, when the state of California imposed a freeze on business travel as part of a broader effort to control spending, the department was able to continue work, adopting new collaborative methods without difficulty, according to Panora. “SharePoint Server was one of the tools we used to keep teams operating effectively, even when they couldn’t get together in person,” he says.

Department employees work with more timely and accurate information through SharePoint Server. Previously, CDCR published between 150 and 200 web content updates per month, covering everything from inmate census data to budget projections. Now, by using SharePoint Server, CDCR has increased that volume to between 800 and 1,000 content updates per month, without any additional expenditure of time or resources.

“Distributing accurate and timely information to our employees means that they can do their jobs more effectively,” says Panora. “They don’t have to track down colleagues and check with them for unpublished updates. They can rely on the information they get through SharePoint Server, which helps them to keep up with their increased workloads.”

* We had a common need throughout the department to do a better job managing the creation, sharing, and use of information. We needed an equally common solution.
Joe Panora
Director, Enterprise Information Services, California Department of Corrections and  Rehabilitation
Reduces Time for Document Approval by 30 to 60 Percent
Buffington has observed similar benefits through CDCR’s use of other SharePoint Server capabilities, such as document management and workflow. “We have seen the elimination of duplicate and inconsistent documents, because everyone sees the same documentation, created with the same publishing templates, in the same SharePoint libraries,” he says.

The adoption of SharePoint Server has also led to business process reengineering as the department moves existing processes into SharePoint workflows, eliminating steps that SharePoint Server either automates or makes unnecessary.

One example is the approval process for architectural diagrams. It once included the express-mailing of large-scale drawings, followed by the sequential, manual review of the drawings from office to office. Now, diagrams are submitted electronically through a SharePoint site and reviewed concurrently with the help of SharePoint Server notifications and workflows. The reengineering of this process reduces the typical review time by about three weeks. Diagram reviews used to take individual staff members months to complete. Now, employees can review, comment on, and approve diagrams concurrently, potentially increasing productivity by 30 to 60 percent.

Saves Time, Cost of Site Creation, Expansion
EIS uses SharePoint Server to deliver tools that employees use to be more efficient and effective, without increasing its baseline staffing levels or budget.

For example, EIS manages the 400 percent increase in web content updates with fewer people than it formerly dedicated to the process. “We’re doing more with less when it comes to publishing content updates because of our use of SharePoint Server,” says Buffington. “It enables us to use a distributed authoring and publishing model that reduces our workload. And it’s just easier to work with—we no longer need specialized tools for content updates.”

The department also sets up SharePoint sites and expands their functionality in less time than it would take with other collaboration platforms. Because SharePoint Server contains so much functionality out of the box, the EIS Enterprise Web and Collaboration Solutions team can do the work of site creation and expansion itself by configuring SharePoint functionality, rather than needing to write the code for that functionality, or to contract with consultants to do the work.

“We’re finding that SharePoint Server isn’t just a collaboration platform,” says Panora. “It’s a services platform that we turn to first whenever a new business need arises. We can deliver solutions faster by using SharePoint Server. We can be more responsive to business needs—and even more proactive in anticipating those needs. We use fewer people, tools, and resources, and get better, faster results. That’s saying a lot.”

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Solution Overview

Organization Size: 65000 employees

Organization Profile

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, based in Sacramento, works to improve public safety through evidence-based crime prevention and recidivism reduction strategies. It has 65,000 employees.

Business Situation

The need to undertake a major construction program underscored a long-standing need to improve information-sharing and collaboration among department employees.


The department now applies content management, workflow, and collaboration tools in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 to construction programs, strategic planning, and more.


  • Publishes updated information four times faster
  • Reduces time for document approval by 30 to 60 percent
  • Saves 50 percent of time, cost of site creation, expansion

Software and Services
Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007

Vertical Industries
  • State and Regional Government Agencies
  • Public Safety & Justice

United States


Enterprise Networking Solutions