Case Studies


  • Type: Document Management System with Federated Search

  • Technologies: Alfresco EDRMS, Solr search

  • Sector: Not for Profit

Customer Overview

WWF is a global not-for-profit organization the world’s best-known advocates for conservation. WWF’s global mission is to stop the degradation of the natural environment and build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. The organization was founded in 1961 and now has offices in more than 80 countries across the world.


WWF-UK is the UK arm of the WWF charity with 350 staff leading fundraising in the UK and perform wildlife and conservation projects around the world.


WWF-UK has five regional offices in the UK and in 2013 opened a new UK headquarters; The Living Planet Centre (LPC) in Woking, Surrey. This purpose-built building is designed to be as environmentally-friendly as possible; WWF-UK’s eco-centric approach to its design covered everything from the building itself to ways of working, supported by new IT infrastructure.

As part of its commitment to Green IT, WWF-UK wanted to introduce new ways of working that incorporated more flexibility, collaboration and opportunities for mobile and off-site working; this included introducing a new Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policy.

“We looked at how we wanted our staff to work in the organisation, how we wanted them to be connected, how we wanted to introduce more flexibility, mobility and collaboration”, WWF-UK Director of ICT IT David Southern told Computing magazine. “We’ll be much less about managing hardware, we’ll be much more about enabling the business to adopt new ways of working”

As a key part of this major business change, WWF-UK was seeking a new EDRMS (Enterprise Document and Records Management System) which would be the source of all documents in WWF-UK and provide an easy way to search across this and multiple information repositories (websites, blogs and external wiki sites).  WWF-UK had over 1.7 million documents on a shared drive. With migrating these files to the new EDRMS the documents and assets had to be more discoverable in order to increase knowledge sharing and collaboration – and of course accessible, regardless of the user’s global location and device.

Due to the commercially sensitive nature of information it was key that the EDRMS should be secure and robust and managed with strong support and Disaster Recovery facilities as WWF-UK’s international activities would necessitate access to information 24×7.


Ixxus has a track record of successfully delivering content management solutions for major charities, including Amnesty International, Virgin Money Giving, IET and The Brooke. This meant Ixxus was well-placed to understand the specific requirements of a not for profit enterprise and are experts at delivering a cost-effective, low-risk solution to make day-to-day working at WWF easier.

WWF-UK selected Ixxus and the Alfresco ECM within a competitive tender process, with Alfresco picked as the platform of choice compared to solutions such as Microsoft SharePoint.

Alfresco was chosen by WWF-UK for its rich user interface, its support for Mac and PC users and its ability to perform federated and facetted search across external repositories. As Alfresco ECM is open source, this also meant that WWF had zero licensing costs; an important consideration for a not-for-profit enterprise operating as cost-effectively as possible.

Ixxus implemented the Alfresco solution and provides the migration tools to enable the 1.7 million files to be loaded with the appropriate new metadata values to make the files more discoverable. The content that had to be searched included Microsoft Office files (Word, Powerpoint, Excel), PDFs, scanned physical documents and unstructured data, such as images, wikis, websites and blogs managed on other systems. The Alfresco solution provided the benefit of removing the boundaries between the business content silos and ensured that WWF-UK could work in a way that is much more efficient, integrated and collaborative.

Alfresco provided an openness and ease of accessibility that made mobile and remote working as simple as on-site working, allowing for more flexibility in working and – key to WWF’s business strategy – a more economically-friendly approach with fewer commutes and more scope for tablet-based, paperless meetings.

Other key requirements of WWF-UK was for information governance and records management. Alfresco enabled governance processes to be built into content workflows, with administrators and users able to simply control processes and permissions. WWF-UK can now not only ensure that the company maintains control of sensitive content, but can easily view audit trails to ensure compliance and improve the accuracy of records and statistics.

Ixxus implemented the Solr integration with Alfresco to search across existing information repositories – other WWF websites, blogs and wikis to provide an enterprise search ability.

Ixxus utilised its award-winning Alfresco/Solr faceted search technology within the implementation and also tailored the search for proximity searching – “sloppy phrase queries” (e.g. to match “rainforest” within two words of “Amazon”). The search facilities demonstrated the benefits of Alfresco search results to show thumbnails; given the level of use of imagery on WWF documents.

The Alfresco implementation by Ixxus means that documents and assets are now more discoverable no matter where they sit across WWF’s repositories, ensuring that staff can find the information that they need, when they need it.


Ixxus used an Agile approach to the project by adopting the Scrum development technique: a proven standard for development which delivers solutions that meet real customer needs and de-risks projects through the use of many early review points with the customer. Agile involves frequent releases, continual integration, on-going client involvement, iterative functional deliveries, and regular requirements reviews. This Agile approach enabled Ixxus to effectively adapt the speed of the project to fit in around changing project timelines, ensuring low-risk project delivery tailored to WWF-UK’s needs.  A pilot stage of the project was also used to validate on the requirements with a pilot group of 15 staff; this provided a showcase of the new system and demonstrated the powerful new search abilities across Alfresco and non-Alfresco content repositories. The pilot was used to secure the approval from the WWF-UK Board to progress to the full rollout phase.

For the deployment activities Ixxus performed train-the-trainer and administrator training to WWF-UK, ensuring that WWF-UK felt secure and supported in their understanding and ability to operate the new information management system. WWF-UK then managed a programme of training sessions and migration preparation to all staff. Final roll-out and scaling up of the system to around 350 users was performed in April 2014.

WWF-UK had infrastructure in place to perform all the primary and disaster recovery hosting and required a managed Alfresco support service to ensure reliable performance. Ixxus is providing a fully-managed support service, with operating system and application level support and administration and proactive Alfresco tuning for WWF-UK. Operating procedures and the RACI matrix was defined in conjunction with WWF-UK to define the seamless support across Alfresco and WWF-UK hosting and network teams.

“Information is very important to WWF – it’s the currency which flows via our donors, partners and people working on our projects in the field,” said David Southern, Director of ICT, “The Ixxus implementation of Alfresco has enabled the organization to take a major step forward in improving access to information from anywhere, at any time and from any device.”



Date Published : 23rd of October 2014