Initially, World Bank’s IT department didn’t think such a solution was technically feasible. This was nearly confirmed when external vendors said they couldn’t offer an effective solution. So the World Bank again turned to its internal resources. The IT department was then given 3 months to create the application. "We didn’t have much time," recalls Pratheep Ponraj, information officer (information solutions group, solutions design, and integration). "We had a very tight deadline from senior management where we were working backwards from the date. We knew when it should be launched, but we still didn’t know how we were going to do it." He says that such projects typically take 8 to 9 months to complete.
What the Knowledge Dissemination Division and the IT department created was an integrated authoring and dissemination tool that they named CCM (CSR Content Management). CCM standardizes document authoring, while simplifying the process, and allows users to instantly publish documents to help avoid future duplication. "Even though they can document this information, you need to be able to collect and disseminate the information in a sensible manner," says Ponraj. "So whatever they type in the Word document is automatically extracted and catalogued. The users then have the flexibility to pick roles and say, ‘What are the processes that apply to me?’
"They had a strict requirement of using Office products to improve usability for content publishing and to reduce the repetition of work," notes Ponraj. "They didn’t want a farm-based application." Included in the CCM tool is the bank’s content management system as well as some more traditional (and mainstream) technological offerings. Two components are Microsoft Office 2007 programs: Word and Visio, which was used to build templates to capture information.
The development team wanted to use Word and Visio since users were already familiar with these programs, and they would require minimal training. "Word 2007 gave us a way to control the unstructured content and put more structure to it," says Ponraj. It also prevents users from deleting content as they choose, he adds. "We were able to add those restrictions to protect the document structure," says Ponraj.
Microsoft Office SharePoint Server was put in place to manage the workflow during the authoring process. This helps users track previous versions of each document. A Microsoft SQL database server captures data from the Visio and Word templates when new versions are published. Users can immediately access the most recent information, and it can be disseminated to websites and reports. Document authors can choose who receives the documents they create. XML can be used to share data with other applications used by the bank.
Overall, the user experience is more interactive and personalized through the use of a Java-based dissemination website, where newly published documents are accessible. Users can choose to read all available information, a summary of information specific to a business unit, or a custom view, in which the user selects which type of information to view. Users can print all views from their web browser, but they can also pull individual pieces together in Word before printing. They can create customer reports and download canned reports that are preformatted (in Word and Excel) via the site. "They can slice and dice information on the site," notes Lal Das.
The real winners are the authors—those who document the bank’s business processes. "The flexibility and the richness that we provide in the application is beyond what we could have done with a farm-based application," says Ponraj. "We found a balance between what people want and how they work on the day-to-day business." But the benefits are just as valuable for the dissemination process. "On the dissemination side, because of how we design the application, we were able to bring more role-based and target-based information, which is helpful when you have hundreds of business processes and somebody wants to know what they are supposed to do next," adds Ponraj.
The new content management tool has accomplished the goals that World Bank expected to achieve—increased productivity and decreased costs. "From a business management perspective, they got everything they wanted," says Lal Das. "We’re publishing a huge amount of information at zero cost. While there were costs in building the applications, there are no costs in publishing the documents." In addition, Lal Das says the new application is very efficient, allowing no true gap in time between the authoring and publishing of documents. Content is also more reliable. Publishing time has been reduced from days or months to just minutes.
"Because it is so interactive, we have been able to save money on training," adds Lal Das. "We put the information out there, and they can learn it." User adoption has been positive, notes Lal Das. "They can customize information just for themselves," he says. "They can customize their experience completely, and they really appreciate that." Users can more easily find pieces of relevant content and prepare both customized and canned reports based on their specific needs.
Lal Das says that one of the main goals was to make the application scalable for future growth and adaptations and expand it beyond the vice presidency. He says that the bank’s human resources department is interested in using the new application.
Lal Das says that the focus of the initiative has shifted greatly in the past year. Last year, 75% of the focus was on the design and technology of the solution. This year, 90% of the focus is on working with people and getting more individuals to use the new system. "We want to do more outreach and branding," says Lal Das. "Our focus now is on the people and communication side, not on the building and technology."
Ponraj says one of the main keys to the initiative’s success was the strong communication between the management and IT teams. "Our business interaction was very good. We were constantly in touch," says Ponraj. "When we came up with a new methodology or a new way of doing things, we vetted it with them to make sure we were on the same page and going in the right direction. That really helped cut down on the development time and the feedback process. We all had the same end goal—to get us there on time and to make sure that people have these tools."