: Denver Goes Alfresco
Most of us have never contemplated the totality of services provided every day by our local or city gov-ernments. From administering elections to maintain-ing a court system, a coroner’s office, birth and death records, and deeds of trust, to managing trash pickup,
recycling programs, and hazardous waste disposal, local governments are document repositories extraor-dinaire! The consolidated city-county government of Denver, Colorado, is a striking case in point. With a combined population of over 600,000, and encompass-
ing 155 square miles and 80 defined neighborhoods, this fused governmental entity oversees nearly 140 schools, over 200 parks, 29 recreation centers, 14 pub-lic libraries, 34 fire stations, over 1,000 buses and five
light rail lines, Denver International Airport (DIA), an animal shelter, a Department of Motor Vehicles, and hundreds of other governmental departments and services. The amount of documentation in the varied
and yet often interconnected departments is stag-gering. Nearly $1 billion and over 10,000 employees are needed to keep Denver’s services running and to
record, verify, and compile all of the supporting docu-mentation.In 2005, the more than 70 agencies of the con-solidated city-county government used 14 different document management systems, none of which
could communicate or interact with each other. The Information Technology department supervised mul-tiple autonomous IT units with their own systems and standards. This decentralization created problems not just with document sharing, but also with docu-
ment security and the ability to audit record keeping functions, particularly scanned contracts and finan-cial records. Employee productivity was negatively impacted through time wasted in locating required documents from other agencies, duplication of IT
functions, and cumbersome document scanning appli-cations. Mayor John Hickenlooper, a proponent of govern-ment transparency and efficiency, created a central-ized IT group and assigned it the task of conceiving an integrated strategy to unify and streamline IT functions. Scrapping the 14 document management
systems was an obvious first cost-saving action. The enterprise content management (ECM) system
adopted would need to revamp the city’s contract record system so that it no longer needed a nightly reboot, met security standards, and was easily searchable for employees across agencies. Described
by Al Rosabal, Deputy CIO Denver City and County, as an “end-of-life” system, the existing system had poor search capabilities and overall feeble perfor-mance.Initially, the Technology Services Group was stymied in locating a cost-effective solution that could be implemented without any interruption in service.
Then it discovered Alfresco. Alfresco’s all-Web-based, open source ECM system was not only affordable to implement, but would conservatively save Denver approximately $1.5 million over five years. CIO Rosabal estimates that, over time, the open source model could save the city up to $1 million a year in
recurring licensing, deployment, and maintenance costs as opposed to a proprietary system. Alfresco’s ECM capabilities include document, record, and image management, document version-ing, multi-language support, support for multiple client operating systems (Windows, GNU/Linux, and Solaris), Web content management, and integration
with MySQL, which Denver used for its relational database management system. With a browser-based graphical user interface and integration with the most commonly used Microsoft Office suites, Alfresco ECM was a perfect fit to economically meet Denver’s needs. Implementation began in 2009 and took place in 6- to 12-week cycles over 15 months’ time. Each cycle also included employee training. This gradual phase-in encouraged employee cooperation and allowed time
for feedback before the next learning curve began. For the auditor and controller offices, Alfresco was integrated with the current PeopleSoft Financial Management software so that employees could view contracts and associated content within the familiar interface. Complete automation of the contract
requisition, writing, and authorization processes resulted in accelerated contract approval time and enhanced contract and financial document auditing. The procurement process had the same structural problems as the IT department; it was spread throughout multiple autonomous or semi-autonomous
agencies. To centralize and standardize the procure-to-pay process (which includes the initial decision
to make the purchase, the process of selecting the goods, and the transaction to pay for the goods pur-chased), the existing PeopleSoft Financials system was again leveraged. Elements of the workflow and the document repository were handled by Alfresco, and
a Web service was used to communicate and move requisitions, purchase orders, receiving documents, accounts payable invoices, and associated documents between Alfresco and PeopleSoft Financials. In addition, an Alfresco content repository maintained all data retention policies. According to Rosabal, another important part of the long-term strategy was to improve citizen engage-
ment. A key element was to extend the document repository to citizens. While many documents could be obtained at government offices, Denver wanted to provide citizens with online access at a reduced cost. As with the contract record system and the procure-to-pay process, Oracle Enterprise Service Bus (ESB)
was used to integrate Alfresco with PeopleSoft and other key applications. This enabled data to be routed as Extensible Markup Language (XML) messages between multiple applications. Documents could now be moved between Alfresco and PeopleSoft and made available to citizens on the Web. Another initiative to better serve citizens was an upgrade to the 311 service. 311 is a special non-emergency phone number in many communities that con-
nects citizens to a Citizen Service Center. Residents can call to report community concerns such as pot-holes, barking dogs and other noise disturbances, graffiti, roadway debris, and dysfunctional street and
traffic lights. Denver migrated the 311 service online by reusing newly created Web services and incor-porating Alfresco with the call center and customer relationship management (CRM) software. Citizens can now use an online form to submit complaints and concerns from their computer or through iPhone and iPad apps.
With the Alfresco ECM, PeopleSoft, and Oracle
ESB infrastructure in place, Denver can now reuse the 311 application technology to proceed to new initiatives such as migrating various licensing, permitting, and inspection programs online and making them accessible to mobile devices. If the projected cost savings are fully realized, Denver can look forward to not only improved employee productivity,
superior document access, auditing, and security, and enhanced service to its citizenry, but the ability to strategically invest in future technology.
Sources: “The City and County of Denver Automate Business Processes and Improve Citizen Engagement with Zia Consulting and Alfresco Software,” www.alfresco.com, accessed June 10, 2012;
www.denvergov.org accessed June 15th, 2012; Paul Hampton, “Why We selected Alfresco — City of Denver,” Alfresco Video Blog, tp://blogs.alfresco.com/wp/videoblog/, August 12th, 2010; and Global EDD Group, “Video: Alfresco Document Management at City of Denver — Customer Case Study,” http://www.legaltech-
city-of-denver-customer-case-study, October 24, 2010.
1. What types of problems was the consolidated
city-county government of Denver, Colorado,
experiencing with document management before
instituting the Alfresco ECM system?
2. How did the Alfresco ECM system provide a
solution to these problems?
3. What management, organization, and technology
issues had to be addressed in selecting and implementing Denver’s new content management
4. How did the new content management system
change governmental processes for Denver?
How did it benefit citizens?
FIREWIRE SURFBOARDS LIGHTS UP WITH CAD
Nev Hyman had been building surfboards in
Australia for 35 years. In 2005, he teamed up with
Mark Price and a group of longtime surfing friends
in Carlsbad, California, to form Firewire Surfboards.
This company thrives on innovation and was
responsible for the first major change in surfboard
composition and assembly methods in 40 years.
Rather than polyurethane resin and polyurethane
foam, Firewire’s boards were composed of expanded
polystyrene (EPS) foam and epoxy resins. Hyman
and Price believed that this composition for the
surfboard core, along with aerospace composites
for the deck skin and balsa wood rails (the out-
side edge),created a more flexible and maneuver-
able product that would attract top surfers and set
Firewire apart from its competitors.
Firewire is competing in a crowded field that
includes Isle Surfboards, Surftech, Aviso Surf, Board
works Surf, Channel Island, and Lost Enterprises.
Firewire is alone in the reintroduction of balsa wood
to the board rails for added flex response time and
the ability to maintain speed during precarious
maneuvers. Firewire believes it can compete success-
fully because its surfboards are far lighter, stronger,
and more flexible than those of its competitors. An
additional selling point is the reduced environmen-
tal impact: Firewire’s materials emit only 2 percent
of the harmful compounds of traditional boards
and recycling excess expanded polystyrene (EPS)
foam has earned Firewire international awards and
But that isn’t enough. To make sure it stays ahead
of the competition, Firewire decided to start making
custom surfboards instead of just the usual off-the-rack
sizes. For the everyday surfer, the durability and flex-
ibility of Firewire’s materials was a key selling point.
However, custom boards made to surfer specifications
are critical in the elite surfboard market, and the abil-
ity to claim top-level competitive surfers as customers
drives the broader surfboard market as well.
Traditionally, skilled craftsman, called shapers,
designed and built surfboards by hand, but Firewire
started doing some of this work using computer-
aided designs (CAD) sent to cutting facilities. The
company’s computer-aided manufacturing process
returned to the shaper a board that was 85 to 90
percent complete, leaving the artisan to complete the
customization and the lamination process.
According to Price, who became Firewire’s CEO,
there are 29 time-consuming and labor-intensive
steps in the surfboard manufacturing process.
Initially, the multifaceted manufacturing process
made it impossible to offer personalized CAD to the
average consumer. Customized boards could only
be produced for elite competitive customers. There
was no way to offer customization to a wider market
without overburdening Firewire’s CAD system.
Moreover, most custom boards had to be ordered by
filling out a piece of paper with various dimensions
for the requested changes. There was no way to
see a visual representation of these adjustments or
assess their impact on the board’s volume, which
directly affects buoyancy, paddling ability, and
Firewire needed a system that would allow
customers to experiment with established designs,
feed the CAD process, and integrate it with its
computer numerical control (CNC) manufacturing
process. Enter ShapeLogic Design-to-Order Live! For
NX, which provides an online customization system
with a Web-based user interface and advanced 3-D
Firewire started working with the ShapeLogic
NX software in 2009 to develop its own Firewire
Surfboards’ Custom Board Design (CBD) system,
which allows users to easily manipulate board dimen-
sions of established models within design param-
eters. Any registered customer can choose a standard
Firewire model and use drag-and-drop tools to adjust
the board’s length, midpoint width, nose width, tail
width, and thickness, as long as these changes don’t
degrade the board’s design integrity. CBD generates a
precise three-dimensional model of the stock model
used as the base design along with a 3-D portable
document format (PDF) file of the customized board.
The PDF file documents the board’s dimensions and
volume. A customer can manipulate the model from
all angles and compare the customized board to the
standard board to fully understand the design before
placing an order. When the customer uses the system
to order a custom board, CBD generates a precise solid
CAD model of the board that is transmitted directly
to the Firewire factory for driving the CNC machines
that manufacture the board.
This combination of technologies results in a
board that is 97 percent complete, minimizing the
manufacturing time, finishing process, and thus,
costs to the consumer. In contrast to the earlier CAD
assisted, 10 to 15 percent hand-finished boards, once
a surfer has designed the board of his or her dreams,
it can be remade to those exact specifications time
and again. Neither the ideal handmade board nor
a shaper-finished board can be replicated with this
degree of precision.
An additional benefit of Firewire’s online design
system is the social networking engendered by the
sharing of customers’ unique design files. Before
placing an order, customers can show their modi-
fications to fellow surfers and ask for opinions and
advice. After placing an order and using the product,
they can report their experiences and (hopefully)
tout their design or suggest improvements to other
customers. Interactive communication such as this
drives customers to the Firewire site, creating a
marketing buzz that boosts sales.
Sources: “Case Study: NX CAD technology drives custom surf-
board design,” http://www.plm.automation.siemens.com/en_us,
accessed June 14, 2012; “Firewire Surfboards by Nev Hyman,”
www.allaboutsurfboards.com, accessed June 14, 2012; “Firewire
Partners with NanoTune ‘Board Tuning Technology,’” www.surf-
newsdaily.com, February 22, 2012; William Atkinson, “How Firewire
Surfboards Refined Its 3D Order Customization,” www.cioinsight.
com, November 21, 2011; “Firewire Surfboards Custom Board Design
Blends Replicability of Machine Made Boards With Uniqueness of
Custom Boards,” http://surfingnewsdaily.com, October 12, 2011;
and “Firewire Surfboards Garner Recognition for Technological
Advances,” www.surfermag.com, July 22, 2010.
1. Analyze Firewire using the value chain and
competitive forces models.
2. What strategies is Firewire using to differentiate
its product, reach its customers, and persuade
them to buy its products?
3. What is the role of CAD in Firewire’s business
4. How did the integration of online custom board
design software (CBD), CAD, and computer
numerical control (CNC) improve Firewire’s
• Chapter 12, pg. 476: Colgate-Palmolive Keeps Managers Smiling with Executive Dashboards (60 points)
COLGATE-PALMOLIVE KEEPS MANAGERS SMILING WITH EXECUTIVE DASHBOARDS
Colgate-Palmolive Company is the second largest
consumer products company in the world whose
products are marketed in over 200 countries and
territories. The company had 38,600 employees
worldwide and $16.734 billion in annual revenue
in 2011. Colgate has been keeping people smiling
and clean around the world, with more than three-
quarters of its sales in recent years coming from out-
side the United States. Colgate’s brands in oral prod-
ucts, soap, and pet food, are global names, including
Colgate, Palmolive, Mennen, Softsoap, Irish Spring,
Protex, Sorriso, Kolynos, Elmex, Tom’s of Maine,
Ajax, Axion, Fabuloso, Soupline, and Suavitel, as well
as Hill’s Science Diet and Hill’s Prescription Diet.
The secret to continued growth and stability for
the past two decades has been Colgate’s ability to
move its brands off shore to Latin America, Europe
and Asia. In the past, Colgate divided the world into
geographic regions: Latin American, Europe, Asia,
and North America. Each region had its own infor-
mation systems. As long as the regions did not need
to share resources or information this patchwork
system worked, more or less. This all changed as
global operations became more integrated and senior
management needed to oversee and coordinate these
operations more closely.
Colgate had been a global SAP user since the early
1990s, but it was running five separate ERP sys-
tems to serve its different geographic regions. Over
a period of time, disparities in the data developed
between different geographic regions and between
the data used at the corporate level and the data used
by an individual region or business unit. The data
were constantly changing. For example, every time a
sales report was run, it showed different numbers for
orders and shipments. Colgate wanted more usable
data to drive business decisions and all of its manag-
ers and business units worldwide to use the same
version of the data.
Colgate chose to solve this problem by creating a
single global data repository using SAP NetWeaver
Business Warehouse, SAP’s analytical, reporting and
data warehousing solution. Colgate’s regional ERP
systems feed their data to the warehouse, where
the data are standardized and formatted for enter-
prise-wide reporting and analysis. This eliminates
differences in data across the enterprise. One of the outputs of the warehouse for senior
managers is a daily HTML table showing a series of
financial and operational metrics for the day com-
pared to the previous month and quarter. The data
the executives see is exactly the same as what their
peers in all Colgate regions and business units see.
However, the data were not being used by enough
employees in their decision making to have an
impact on business benefits. Colgate’s power users
had no trouble using the reporting and analytical
tools provided by the warehouse, and they were
satisfied with the matrix reports from the system.
Colgate’s senior managers and other casual users, on
the other hand, did not feel comfortable running ad
hoc reports or drilling down into the layers of data
to answer questions the data brought to light. They
did not have much time to spend developing reports,
and the standard reports produced for them by the
warehouse lacked navigation and drill down capabili-
ties. Tables had no color coding so users could only
interpret the data by scrutinizing the numbers on the
Eventually Colgate’s senior managers and other
casual users began requesting deeper access to the
warehouse data in a more timely and user-friendly
format. They wanted reports that were easier to
run and where the data could be interpreted faster.
Senior management requested customizable, real-
time dashboards that could be more easily used to
drive performance improvement.
Colgate’s information systems specialists then
implemented SAP NetWeaver BW Accelerator to
speed up data loads and improve user perception and
adoption and SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence
to build customized reports. SAP BusinessObjects
Web Intelligence provides a powerful, intuitive
interface that enables business analysts and non-
technical business professionals to ask spontaneous
questions about their data. Casual business users can
use simple drag-and-drop techniques to access data
sources and create interactive reports that drill, slice
and format information based on their needs. Tools
for cutting edge visualization allow end users to view
two- and three-dimensional charts and hone in on
specific areas of focus.
Colgate started using SAP’s BusinessObjects
tools to build user-friendly dashboards, and quicklycreated dashboard prototypes for management to
review. Once management approved the dashboard
design, the dashboards were populated with produc-
tion data. Now Colgate’s senior managers are run-
ning the dashboards to monitor the business from a
Employee training was essential to the
dashboards’ success. Members of Colgate’s global
information systems development team created cus-
tomized courses for Colgate’s 65 business intelligence
experts and ran the classroom training. The training
identified people that could be used as resources for
developing the reporting tools. When word spread
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