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FileHold and SharePoint Working Together

This white paper is meant to provide an overview of SharePoint and FileHold as independent products and how users can benefit from the work FileHold has done to integrate the products together. The paper focuses specifically on the advanced features relative to document management software that FileHold offers and how FileHold has made SharePoint better.

SharePoint and FileHold Working Together

Document management software is a great companion product to SharePoint in the enterprise.  FileHold and SharePoint are Microsoft products that operate in the .NET environment. Through Microsoft Active Directory Synchronization it is possible to operate FileHold as a feature rich document management solution within SharePoint. Users get the best of both worlds. The rich portal and platform offerings of SharePoint and the focused document management features of FileHold.

The objective of the FileHold document management / SharePoint integration is to embed the main sections of the FileHold web client into Microsoft Office SharePoint Services and Windows SharePoint Services. The guiding principles of the integration are:

  1. To provide integrated security by synchronizing the MOSS instance and the FileHold instance with the same Active Directory instance so that there is a single sign on process for users.

  2. To make it easy for users to be able to easily transfer documents to and from the SharePoint document libraries and the FileHold document libraries.

  3. To provide a way for users to query (search) the FileHold libraries from within the SharePoint view.

When integrated into the SharePoint shell, FileHold will present itself as the following two web parts:

  1. One big web part providing a complete set of FileHold web client level functionality. The navigation (tree) pane, folder pane and metadata pane will be provided. Access to all actions and views shall be based on the FileHold security context of the user.  The view, property settings, shall be the same as the users web client settings.  Users will be allowed to;

    1. Browse the FileHold document management library tree
    2. Open and view the contents of folders / views
    3. Open and use the metadata capture features
    4. Perform any of the actions provided in the FileHold Toolbar
    5. Perform all aspects of FileHold’s extensive MD and content search capabilities. The search results, generated from the FileHold search engine, will be stand-alone and not blended with that of the SharePoint search result set. 
  2. FileHold document management and SharePoint Interoperability web part behaves in a similar way and provide similar integration between FileHold and SharePoint as FileHold desktop client provides between FileHold and other Microsoft Office desktop applications (such as Microsoft Word, Excel etc.) via its FileHold Office Client add-on. This approach provides a common and familiar user experience for interacting with all relevant Microsoft Office applications. The web part presents the FileHold library tree, document grid and metadata panel; and will allow an easy and intuitive file exchange mechanism between both environments. User experience will be additionally enhanced by providing FileHold specific menu options for SharePoint level document contextual menus. Using these two mechanisms the following FileHold / SharePoint interoperability will be provided:

    1. Copy documents from FileHold to SharePoint
    2. Check-out documents from FileHold to SharePoint
    3. Copy documents from SharePoint to FileHold
    4. Check-in documents from SharePoint to FileHold

When copying documents from FileHold to SharePoint the document will inherit SharePoint destination folder’s default document type and metadata values.

About SharePoint

Microsoft describes SharePoint as follows: “SharePoint Products and Technologies provide enterprise-scale capabilities to meet business-critical needs like managing content and business processes, simplifying how people find and share information across boundaries, and enabling better informed decisions. Using the combined collaboration features of Windows SharePoint Services and Office SharePoint Server, plus the design and customization capabilities of Office SharePoint Designer, organizations can enable their users to create, manage, and easily build their own SharePoint sites, and enable these sites to be discovered throughout the organization.”

What Others are Saying

Analyst Jon Brodkin (Network World) 10/12/2007 08:24:21 says "Microsoft SharePoint spreads 'virally’: SharePoint proliferation leads to uncontrolled content, compliance challenge."

CMS Watch says viral proliferation of SharePoint is nothing new, going back to the 2003 version but Pelz-Sharpe says the "problem is becoming acute now" with the popularity of the 2007 product. SharePoint is a runaway success, reportedly generating US$800 million in revenue this year for Microsoft, with 85 million licenses across 17,000 customers, the CMS Watch report states.

CMS Watch report states "Already some enterprises spend huge sums of money to extract themselves from viral-like deployments of SharePoint 2003 running rampant across their network, The danger is that this [2007] product will simply make those kinds of bad situations worse. Though Microsoft argues that these kinds of situations are really a lack of analysis and planning etc., we think it a little disingenuous to ignore the sales efforts that have contributed to some deployment mistakes."

CMS report on SharePoint go to info@cmswatch.com  “Like Lotus Notes in a previous decade, IT often embraces SharePoint as a simple answer to a myriad of business information problems. But the platform can easily morph into a technical and operational morass, as repositories proliferate, and IT comes to recognize that various custom applications require highly specialized expertise to keep running properly.”  To purchase the entire

Bill Gates shared that “Microsoft had licensed more than 100 Million seats to the platform and generated more than $US 1 Billion from that.”

FileHold Software

FileHold is a certified “Gold” partner of Microsoft and is a 100% Microsoft Centric Company and a strong proponent of SharePoint in the Enterprise. Microsoft supports FileHold and in fact has written two case studies on FileHold development processes and published them on their web site.

FileHold is a “Commercially available Off the Shelf” document management software solution (COTS): a term for software that is ready-made and available for sale, lease, or license to the general public. FileHold software solves the universal problem of information proliferation by managing and organizing electronic and paper documents. FileHold was developed in a Microsoft centric environment and integrates with Microsoft Office and Microsoft Active Directory for synchronization of user rights.

FileHold electronic document management software is easy to install and easy to use. A structured library vocabulary ensures documents are carefully indexed for consistent storage and fast retrieval.   FileHold is a secure electronic library that helps companies be in regulatory compliance. 

As a COTS solution FileHold ships out of the box with: document scanning and imaging, a pre-configured filing structure, a flexible but structured user rights management system, and optional document viewers. These features support the paperless office.

Comment from a prospective buyer evaluating both FileHold and SharePoint

 “Regarding MS SharePoint, after a side-by-side analysis of FileHold and the Document Centre features, we concluded that they do not compare. FileHold is a strong DMS whereas SharePoint is a shallow collection of document management features designed primarily for collaborative development of MS Office documents within an intranet portal platform. Here are some of our reasons:
  • For the size of our company, Sharepoint would take too much overhead to design, set up, and maintain
  • We do not want to be beholden to IT for changes to or upgrading of the system. 
  • We do not have the time or interest in determining how we want doc management features to work.
  • We do not trust the claims made by Microsoft for its platform's "out-of-the-box" features or performance. We don't have a burning need for most of the other Sharepoint capabilities.
  • We work with many non-MSOffice document types.” 

Comparing SharePoint and FileHold Functionality

For the purpose of a document management implementation, the products do not compare and it is not fair to either party to compare them – they are different in cost, implementation effort, philosophy and purpose.

  • SharePoint is a platform for enterprise “portal”, collaboration and workspace features. It can also be a development environment for .NET enhancements and specific user configurations. 
  • FileHold is COTS software for structured document and record management.

We believe that FileHold and SharePoint work well together as they both use the same Microsoft foundation. A part of FileHold is integration with SharePoint so that customers can have the best of both worlds; great collaboration but at the same time easy to use, feature rich document management. 

Costs of Implementation

Although SharePoint is not expensive to purchase, it does not ship with third party components needed to make it work as a rich document management solution. A company considering SharePoint as a document management solution would have to add in the cost of:

  • Tightly integrated scanning software that will work with over 300 different scanners to convert paper into electronic form.

  • Out of the box user rights configurations for fast set up.

  • “Best Practices” guidelines and help for document and record management and retention.

Many companies would consider SharePoint far too expensive to implement for document management. SharePoint software requires a large amount of IT resources to configure,  to train and support users, and to deploy (almost always outside consultants are hired if DM features are required). 

FileHold document management licensing starts at $3,795.00 for 5 users including a document scanning module. For customers who have absolutely no IT support, it can be purchased as a pre-loaded appliance at a price of $9,995.00.  The appliance ships complete with software, on line help, video tours and a back up system, everything that is required is to plug it in.

Eric Posa – President DocuSyst: “ I originally looked into Sharepoint and found it to be too big for me and too expensive.  I have not dealt with it because it is not a reasonable solution for a small business, which I specialize in. For an office that is looking to implement a simple storage repository for their users to add and tag documents, Sharepoint is over-kill and is not worth the investment to get the basic concepts of DM.  FileHold is installed in a couple hours and users are able to add documents easily as it mimics most Windows folder structures.”  

How Can SharePoint and FileHold Work Together?

For document management FileHold can be a great companion product to SharePoint in the enterprise. Both FileHold and SharePoint are Microsoft products that operate in the .NET environment. When users are synchronized with Active Directory it is possible to operate FileHold as a focused document management solution within SharePoint. With FileHolds SharePoint integration users can move easily move documents from SharePoint into FileHold creating a structured library with consistent meta data capture.

Extract from an RFP from a 1,000 employee company (FileHold Comments in parenthesis):

All documents typical in a manufacturing environment may find their way into the selected system. Source documents could be paper based, electronic (such as PDF/Word) and potentially direct from fax or email (FileHold has out of the box connections with scanners and fax machines).  We envision users scanning paper based documents during the course of the day with some means to process these, i.e. split batches and index the documents, preferably real-time but at minimum via a schedule job at night..  

The system will be available via the LAN and WAN and we may choose to make the system available externally via the web, perhaps as a link off a Sharepoint site (FileHold has tight integration with SharePoint). The system should take advantage of our existing AD based security (FileHold synchronizes with Active Directory). We anticipate that paper documents will enter the system via Scanner at each of the 43 field offices as well as at several locations on the corporate campus (FileHold supports distributed document scanning). For many documents, once they enter the system we envision index data being either retrieved via OCR  from the form (FileHold indexes documents and provides full OCR search capability) or extracted from a database fed by our ERP system.

We anticipate that many users at corporate will have a need to access the system as well as a small number at each field location. Ideally, users not “scanning” documents into the system will not require any software installed on their desktop to utilize any other features of the system (all document storage and retrieval functions are supported in the FileHold browser view).

Our goal will be to implement the selected system as “Vanilla” as possible. (FileHold provides out of the box pre-configuration for user and document folders) Ideally the system will provide a toolset to allow for defining an extract of index data from the supported database as well as a means to link to documents in the system from other systems.(FileHold has a proven documented Web Services API to interact with other systems).

Kevin MacKay, Managing Director, I-Quest Limited UK "The UK legal markets focus is to;Eliminate Islands of Information.  Tto this end firms are starting to consider new .NET architecture solutions enabling their future PMS, CRM, DM, RM, Workflow systems to interoperate more effectively with one another than in the past. 

The .NET based FileHold enhances SharePoint portal implementations; FileHold offers; highly focused and fully integrated Document, Records Management, Workflow and Scanning; Solution capabilities which are not SharePoint strengths. (i.e. document scanning, auto tagging features that make it simple for  lawyers to consistently archive and retrieve documents, and viewers that allow users to look at a file without native software running). The FileHold .NET environment is already allowing easy linking to Case and Project Management applications in a straight forward way. ”