University for the Creative Arts Case Study
The University for the Creative Arts (UCA) is a specialist creative arts university with courses in art, design, architecture, media and communication, based on campuses at Canterbury, Epsom, Farnham, Maidstone and Rochester. One of the biggest providers of art and design education in Europe, UCA has over 7000 students from 76 countries enrolled on more than 80 different courses.
Notable alumni include Turner Prize nominee Tracy Emin, Oscar winners Daniel Greaves and Suzie Templeton, fashion designers Zandra Rhodes and Karen Millen, and the portrait painter Humphrey Ocean.
The first step towards improving UCA’s Staff Portal was taken in December with the launch of a new Document Management System called ‘Docshare’. Docshare was developed by Ixxus, an Alfresco Platinum Partner, who provided a robust solution by leveraging the Alfresco Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system.
The University for the Creative Arts (UCA) Document Store had far outgrown its original remit and was struggling to cope with the demands now being placed on it by a much larger, 5-campus organisation.
UCA required a new means of managing documents which would be extensible and scalable across the whole university, as well as improve the productivity and flexibility of working. The new Document Management System needed to be accessible across multiple platforms and devices, and particularly on mobile devices (iPhone, iPad) to enable mobile working and remote access to content and assets. It also needed to integrate with both the current system and other applications, allowing for easy transfer of existing content.
UCA planned to replace the old Document Store with a unified Document Management System with multiple platform compatibility to make everybody’s working life easier, more productive, and more portable. Under Ixxus’ guidance, UCA undertook a content migration that included a consolidation and cleansing exercise. This was necessary due to the aging Document Store having grown in a haphazard and unplanned fashion, leading to inefficiencies in use, problems finding content and unreliable operation.
With a proven track record of successfully delivering similar projects for Higher Education organisations, Ixxus were ideally placed to provide UCA with a solution tailored specifically to its requirements. Ixxus is an experienced global consultancy and were the UK’s first Alfresco Platinum Partner. Ixxus leveraged the Alfresco Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system in order to provide a unified content solution catering to the needs of staff across the University.
After detailed discussion with the client to identify the specific requirements of UCA staff, Ixxus delivered a content management system that is both robust and open in its architecture. Ixxus also provided custom workflows and approval processes in order to allow content to be published efficiently and easily. Creation and launch of the Document Management System, ‘Docshare’, is the first step towards improving UCA’s Staff Portal.
‘Docshare’ is compatible with PCs, Macs and – crucially - mobile devices such as iPad and iPhone. It is accessible from all of the UCA campuses and available for use offsite too. This openness and ease of accessibility makes mobile and remote working as simple as on-site working, allowing far more flexibility in people’s working lives. The Alfresco app has also provided additional business benefits for executives who use Docshare on iPads for paperless meetings, with the direct result of saving money on resources and facilitating ease of cross-platform sharing and collaboration.
Content from within DocShare can now be published from an internal Alfresco repository into the public domain via an approval process. A custom categorisation structure was also implemented to allow for enhanced browsing and searching.
'Docshare’ is allowing UCA staff to work more collaboratively through sharing documents anytime, anywhere. It facilitates and improves communication, also reducing duplication of effort. With the ability to access documents and assets via a range of platforms, including mobile and tablet, UCA has added more choice and flexibility in how users can work and collaborate. This also ensures that the relevant content can be located quickly and easily whenever it is required. The solution has the ability to scale with the needs of the wider University.
Hilary Sellars, UCA Head of IT Services said: “Our old document management system provided very basic functions and no longer met our business needs. With our geographical spread across two counties we needed a system to support collaborative and mobile working and being a creative arts university the system also had to deliver to a broad variety of devices.
After an extensive period of researching the market we chose the open source software Alfresco and Ixxus as our implementation partners. They provided the software and customised it to suit our specific needs. The support, knowledge and skills Ixxus provided were invaluable and they were very responsive throughout the project.
With the launch of the our new document management system UCA staff can finally work together no matter where they are and no matter what device they use sharing ideas and collaborating in a better way.
It was like going from riding a bicycle to driving a Ferrari.”