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Case Study – ICE: Initial Consulting Engagements

case-study-bannerInitial Consulting Engagements (ICE) allow you to immediately get started with your ECM or Capture project, without the risk of a large up-front commitment. Our deliverables provide you with a clear understanding of the requirements, time, and cost of the project–giving you full information to decide on next steps.

Learn how our proven method of discovery, technical assessment, and project road mapping lead to successful project implementation for a leading technology company.

View Case Study

 

 

Renovate Your ECM System!

Architecture

Are you tired?  Tired of your costly and complex legacy ECM technology that isn’t even being used?  Tired of ineffective or unmanaged business processes that don’t solve your business problems?  Tired of content silos and a lack of communication between ECM systems and your business applications from ERP to CRM?

You are not alone!  Across the country and around the world, from Fortune 500 companies to SME’s to the Public Sector, we’ve heard similar stories of frustration–people working around (not leveraging!) their existing ECM systems and processes, ultimately paying too much and getting too little.

Today, we are excited to announce our answer to this problem: ECM Renovation Solutions from Zia.

These solutions provide organizations with a unique ability to match the WANTS of users (attractive, easy, mobile) with the NEEDS of the enterprise (secure, reliable, compliant), with a focus on three critical components of modernizing your ECM system:

  • Migrate
  • Automate
  • Integrate

Over the next few weeks, we’ll introduce you to the details behind our ECM Renovation Solutions, including:

  • Usability – ECM that “works the way you do” from Microsoft Office to Email Integration to Cloud Collaboration
  • Portability – Content that goes where you need it, when you need it
  • Simplicity – Triggers and functions automated for you, not complex BPM
  • Open Cloud Architecture – Secure hybrid solutions for the Enterprise
  • Visibility – Tracking and reporting on how your content is working for you

We’ll also discuss the business value provided by our Renovation Solutions, from immediate and direct costs savings for a rapid ROI, to improving time to revenue through automation, to enhanced visibility into business critical analytics with our reporting and BI capabilities.

Web Experience Management for the Content Connected Enterprise

CrafterSoftware_Logo_RGBAs a massive amount of web content is produced on a daily basis, it’s no surprise that consumers are demanding a custom, personalized experience when they interact with your website in order to help weed through and digest information. If they frequent your site, they may expect it will recognize them and display content relevant to them. Visitors also expect that your site will have extensive features and functionality no matter what device they are viewing it on.

At the same time, companies are looking to align and leverage content across a variety of communication channels both internally and externally, including how content is published on company websites, saving time and money, as well as improving corporate control and compliance.   Finally, the goal of any content management solution—be it web experience management tool like Crafter, a repository like Alfresco, capture software like Ephesoft – must be to deliver a system that people use.  In order to do this, using these tools MUST be easy.

Unfortunately, the legacy of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems is one of complexity, both for implementers and users alike. If these systems don’t incorporate the tools employees use in their everyday work habits, they won’t be used–which is why for most organizations, email applications and shared drives are still the dominant form of “content management” and why many ECM technologies are best known as “shelfware”. But there is an alternative, offering users a content management system that works the way they do today without the need for changes in business process or the use of multiple disparate applications to solve business problems.

Crafter Software is built on Alfresco, the open platform for business-critical content management and collaboration. It’s a powerful content hub that allows users to create, edit, review, and approve content. It offers version control, security, and audit trails. It’s an open platform with open standards that allows custom solutions to be built on top of it. Companies that offer packaged solutions often fall short of meeting the needs of most organizations as they are highly unique. We believe building custom solutions that integrate best-of-breed open source technologies like Alfresco, Ephesoft, and Crafter creates a truly complete solution.

Alfresco is reliable, secure, and scalable… all features that enterprises require. However, as we mentioned, employees want EASY. They want simple collaboration; they want basic file sharing both internally and externally; and they want business solutions that are integrated with their most widely used tools like email and other Office products. They don’t want to learn several new systems, save and upload content to multiple locations, or constantly login to multiple tools.

Zia provides users with Easy ECM Solutions that “work the way they do, using the tools they use today,” so users aren’t forced to use alternatives that don’t fit their company’s IT strategy.  Our Easy ECM Solutions leverage tools like Office Integration and Cloud Sync to deliver content management systems that work–and since they are built on a single Content Hub, information is available where it’s needed, when it’s needed.  Alfresco software can be leveraged on premises, in the cloud, or in a hybrid model.

With Crafter, Alfresco, and Easy ECM Solutions from Zia, your organization can become a “Content Connected Enterprise”. Review the recently recorded webinar on this topic for more information here.

We invite you to attend the Second Annual Zia Content Connected Summit to learn more on September 12 in Boulder, Colorado. We’ll highlight our Easy ECM and Document Automation solutions that integrate with Crafter Software and Alfresco. More information about this free 1-day event can be found at www.ziasummit.com.

 

Easy ECM – Content Management that Works the Way You Do

The legacy of ECM systems is one of complexity, both for implementers and users alike, which is why for most organizations email applications and shared drives are still the dominent form of “content management” and why many ECM technologies are best known as “shelfware”. But there is an alternative, offering users a content management system that works the way they do today without the need for changes in business process or the use of multiple disperate applications to solve business problems.

Join Alfresco Partner of the Year, Zia Consulting to learn how we are providing enterprises with Easy ECM business solutions built on Alfresco. We will cover areas such as:

  • Working in Microsoft Office with Alfresco Office Workdesk
  • Email Integration for Microsoft Outlook and hosted email
  • Simple Contract Automation with Alfresco Workdesk
  • In-Process Capture within Alfresco providing “Extraction as a Service”
  • ECM Anywhere with On-Premise, Cloud, and Hybrid
  • ECM on Anything with Alfresco Mobile and Mobile Workdesk

In the webinar we will present a number of case studies covering both vertically targeted solutions as well as “horizontal” use cases recommended for virtually any enterprise or government organization.

WATCH NOW

5 Things We Love About Liferay

Liferay Gold Partner

 

There are a number of things we like about Liferay and once you start using Liferay it is easy to see why. Liferay is a leader in the portal space (according to Gartner, not just Zia). It also has a highly flexible user interface and integration platform that makes it easy to use. In fact, we recommend it as a go to technology for Web development and integration.

With so many great things about Liferay, it was hard for me to narrow it down to 5 things for our recent Webinar. In case you missed the “Favorite Things about Liferay” webinar, here are the top five reasons Zia loves Liferay:

1) Open architecture – Liferay is extremely flexible as an environment and can be used with any Java application server and any database that is JDBC compliant. This means that most companies will able to leverage existing technology investments with Liferay. You can use products like Tomcat, JBoss, WebLogic, WebSphere, MySQL, Oracle or SQL Server. You can also use any Java web framework such as Liferay MVC, Spring Portlet MVC, Struts, JSF or GWT. As with any open source product, Liferay customers benefit from being able to ‘see under the hood’ and look at the source code to address problems and report bugs/fixes. This open architecture makes Liferay both an excellent social platform (wikis, blogs, etc.) and integration platform. On a recent customer engagement, I used Liferay to integrate with an ERP, CRM, ESB and several web services.

 

2) Fast Site Creation – For any company that is consistently adding or updating site content, Liferay makes it easy to quickly create and add a web page. Content creators can create new pages with little technical background and with minimal or no IT involvement. This puts the control back in the content creator’s hands and frees up IT resources. From a developer standpoint, it is easy to mock up sites for new projects and manage overall site creation. Liferay’s content management system manages all file types including images, documents, videos, and web content. Web content can be a simple snippet of HTML, or a complex mix of images and HTML that are neatly organized using structures.  The structure is then combined with a template for displaying the web content, so that content contributors can focus on the content and not technical details. Liferay makes it easy to create content, update navigation menus, and create pages and sites in minutes.

 

3) Liferay Plugins – With Liferay you do not need to re-create the wheel. The functionality you need to build your web presence is often available in an existing Liferay plugin. A brief list of the most commonly used plugins are web content display, sign in (user login and forgot password), social media features (such as chat, Wikis, message boards, blogs, etc.) and web proxy. The web proxy feature is great because it allows you to expose legacy web applications in your enterprise through Liferay so that they are all managed the same way. You can customize Liferay plugins in several ways, including the portlet’s UI configuration settings, control panel, and portal-ext.properties. This saves time by avoiding rewriting code. If configuration changes are not enough, you can use Liferay hooks to change JSPs, CSS, and actions (to name just a few). Zia has a lot of experience customizing Liferay using hooks. For example, we have helped many companies customize the sign in plugin by putting in a company’s own look and feel or adding in pages and documents / terms that a user has to agree to. Hooks can also be used to integration with other systems such as LDAP, ERP, CRM, etc.

 

4) Fast Theme Development – Themes are a common way to customize the ‘look’ of a portal. Using themes is easy in Liferay compared to other technologies. In some cases it might be fine to build a quick site using the Classic theme that comes with Liferay. For a public facing site or sites geared towards a large number of users – custom themes are a must. You can modify the look and feel using basic web technologies such as Velocity, HTML, JavaScript, CSS and images.

 

5) Responsive Layout – A major trend in the web world is responsive layout. This allows a website to be used on any web enabled device – not just the traditional desktop. With tablets and smartphones dominating the marketplace, companies need websites that work on these smaller screen sizes. Responsive layout enables you to develop a site that works on tablets and smartphones. This ensures that your site will be relevant for a long time, thereby reducing your annual IT spending. Liferay can detect the screen width of a device, using CSS media queries and JavaScript. All you need to do is specify the CSS for each of the four common display sizes. A great example of this is the Liferay website. Test it using your iPad, iPhone and desktop. You will see how the images decrease in size or are hidden while the content and navigation remains the same. Companies need to incorporate this into websites today to avoid building new websites in a year or two.

There are lots of things I love about Liferay and these are just the top five. One additional feature specific to Version 6.1 that I am excited about is the out of the box previewing of PDF and Word documents. This will save companies a lot of development time.

If you want more information on these features, view our On Demand Webinar to see how easy it is to create pages, use plugins and custom development pages. Or contact Zia directly for more information on how we can help you leverage Liferay in your organization.

Simplify Invoice Processing Using Ephesoft

Invoice processing is no easy task and can be a time consuming and resource intensive task. Even with a variety of different solutions on the market, most companies still manually process invoices. Technology costs and complexity have been barriers to automating invoicing, but with Ephesoft that is no longer the case.

We recently helped a growing ecommerce site, eReplacementParts.com, implement Ephesoft to automate its invoicing processing to improve overall procurement and accounting processes. Like most growing businesses, eReplacementParts’ manual invoicing process had become inefficient. For a company that promotes reuse and sustainability, the process was anything but green.

Zia worked with eReplacementParts to assess their needs and determine how Ephesoft could be used in their environment and on their budget. eReplacementParts is a tech savvy company and while they did the implementation themselves – they needed help to ensure they configured and customized the system properly for their environment. Zia also provided support through their implementation.

Today, the company can quickly and easily convert paper invoices to electronic ones – regardless of document format documents to electronic. When invoices are received they can be scanned into the system and sent directly to the Ephesoft server where text is extracted from the documents into forms and integrated with the company’s ERP system. The system retrieves the appropriate data fields for classification and validates the information with POs. It will also flag exceptions or direct a document to the appropriate system for processing.

With Ephesoft, eReplacementparts has moved from a manual process to an automated process – saving time, improving system accuracy and reducing paper waste. They are a great example of how companies can cost effectively use intelligent document capture technology to simplify the task of invoice processing. If you are struggling to manage your invoice process – Ephesoft could be the right solution for you!

Download the full case study to learn more about eReplacementparts use of Ephesoft or check out our newly published book on Ephesoft titled, Intelligent Document Capture with Ephesoft

 

Martin Fowler Rocks!

Our developers are big fans of Martin Fowler, self-described “author, speaker, and loud-mouth on the design of enterprise software”. His recently published infodeck on “Developing software for Multiple Mobile Devices” really drew our attention.  It is a well thought out and beautifully articulate discussion of the issues in forming a mobile device strategy.  We wanted to share it with you.  You can view it here.

Also, really like his thoughts on  the “Infodeck” presentation paradigm!

 

 

 

 

Ike Kavas CTO Ephesoft on Document Capture Technology

We were fortunate to have Ike Kavas, CTO of Ephesoft at the Zia Paper to Mobile Summit held at the Zia HQ in Boulder.   Ike provided us with a very entertaining and informative keynote address reflecting from a technology perspective on the past, present and future of document capture.  Have a look and enjoy!

 

Check out this inside look video.

 

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Zia to the Rescue

Over the last 18 months, a number of companies have asked us to come in and rescue their failing Alfresco projects/implementation. Having worked on a few of these projects, I have found that many of these companies ran into the same problems.

For anyone just starting to implement Alfresco or looking to expand their existing implementation, here are some tips to ensure your project does not need rescuing down the road:

Assess Your Business Needs – The biggest mistake companies make is forgoing the formal assessment of business needs both from a user and IT perspective. Without this step, companies do not have a vision for how their Alfresco environment will look and work. If you are building Alfresco sites and adding content in a random process – eventually your implementation will hit roadblocks. Without a vision for how the Alfresco repository should act, you are likely to end up with a disorganized repository that has little site or folder structure making content hard to search and manage. Ultimately, this will lead to user dissatisfaction and it will not solve your content needs.

Proper Server Configuration – A common problem customers ask us about is performance – their Alfresco implementation is slow or freezes up. Often times this is because Alfresco is not properly configured and is inefficient. For example, one Alfresco CPU license allows a company to create 4 virtual cores. By setting up the virtual cores on your server, you can optimize Alfresco’s performance. Many companies will incorrectly configure their available virtual cores, slowing down the system. Other issues involve setting up Alfresco in an unsupported environment. This means that Alfresco technical support is unable to help address any support questions. Knowing the nuances of how to properly set up and configure your Alfresco implementation in the beginning and as you expand is essential for its success (this holds true for most systems).

Customization vs. Supporting Software – Too much customization can make your implementation complex and hard to maintain and upgrade. A successful Alfresco project can quickly become a rescue project if a company wants to upgrade its highly customized Alfresco implementation. It can be done, but it takes longer. The key to customization is understanding when to customize and when to leverage supporting software. For example, we worked on one rescue project where the company had done extensive customization to provide functionality that was already available through Alfresco software partners. After a year of trying to upgrade their complex environment, users became frustrated and IT lost credibility with the project.  In many cases, the company could have leveraged supporting software to provide the same functionality that they received from the custom code.  This would have eliminated problems during the upgrade. Leveraging software such as Liferay, Ephesoft, WeWebu and MuleSoft reduces the complexity of creating custom code. Knowing what technology can be used with Alfresco to minimize customizations will make maintaining your Alfresco environment easier.

These are some of the common pitfalls that customers encounter when implementing Alfresco (or any new technology for that matter).  If you are in this situation and need someone to rescue your Alfresco implementation, Zia can help!

More importantly, contact Zia before you implement or expand your implementation to avoid these mistakes all together. We have a unique assessment methodology and will work with you to understand your content needs, requirements, workflow and business processes. We will help you evaluate your IT environment strategically and make recommendations on how to implement Alfresco, leverage supporting products and design a system that lets you leverage your content in smarter ways and manage it more effectively for immediate results.

Using Alfresco 4.0

It’s been just over six months since Alfresco 4.0 was released.  At Zia, we are starting to see an uptick in customers planning upgrade strategies or implementing 4.0. What every customer wants to know is – if the new features in 4.0 deliver on their promises and how they can be used in a real business environment.

Instead of focusing on what’s new in 4.0, I wanted to shed some light on what features customers are actually adopting and if those features work as advertised.  So far, our customers are gravitating towards Solr, Activiti and the overall UI improvements.

More…