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Marketing Service Team Portal

Marketing Service Team Portal is a software product developed by Altoros to manage and optimize the work of its marketing department. The solution was later adjusted to the needs and requirements of the customer and their industry. Marketing activities represent a non-linear type of workflow. Web site content, graphics, and collateral materials may require multiple approvals and revisions by the employees of other departments. The Solution enables setting tasks, adding comments, checking progress, and tracking timelines. This helps the company’s management define faults in the working process and detect the stages where they occur. The system gives the possibility to compare the allocated time period with the actual time spent to complete a task.

The software product is based on SharePoint 2010, which excellently suits the business process automation needs. Taking into consideration the main types of activities marketing staff frequently deals with, the system enables creating six types of requests: main, graphics, collateral material, forms, e-mail campaigns, and Web work. The employees of all departments who are interested in a task or have an expertise to revise and review it, are allowed to add new comments to enhance the quality and speed up circulation of marketing materials. The software has a build-in reporting module that presents all the necessary statistical data which makes it easier to assess the results of work.

The client came up with an idea to develop a convenient task management and execution system optimized for the workflow of a marketing department. The company has already had a Marketing Service Team system, which didn’t meet the needs and requirements of the department. Our customer wanted to update the project and add new functionality.

The updates included work process optimization and adding extra fields for more details on every task. The system was to track the work cycle from the beginning to the final stage making all documents revisions and corrections simple and time-efficient.

  • Due to security and confidentiality reasons, the customer didn’t provide our development team with direct access to the file system of the server farm. In such circumstances the team had to find a possibility to send requests and obtain the necessary information without direct access in order to preserve the system’s security. The developers could not use SharePoint farm solutions and were limited to sandboxed solutions.
  • Time was the most crucial factor for the customer. In view of this, we had to ensure a solution that would be based on the same architecture to reduce development time and meet the specified deadline.
  • As we could not make changes to the initial architecture of the product and had significant limitations in custom development, it was decided to use out of the box SharePoint interfaces such as Client Object Model, Web Services, and WCF Services in conjunction with Silverlight Web parts to get the necessary functionality. The team was to implement the same data requests through three different channels, taking into account that each of them has its own set of features and limitations.
  • The customer’s vision of the user interface required that a number of complex forms with a lot of linked data necessary for their proper functioning should be created. The team had to solve the rather challenging task of elaborating a correct way to simultaneously use the Client Object Model, Web Services, and WCF Services, so that users could hide some fields and view the additional options.

Altoros team didn’t have access to the file system of the customer’s server, so they had to use a sandboxed solution instead of a more efficient and flexible farm solution to enable installing custom components on the SharePoint farm. Requests to perform data operations were sent by Silverlight Web parts via Client Object Model, Web Services, and WCF Services.

After SharePoint interfaces were analyzed the team understood that in order to add the required functionality the developers had to use three types of interfaces. The ListData.svc WCF service was applied to fulfill the basic operations with work items, such as create, read, update, and delete. The Lists.asmx Web service was used for managing attachments and ensuring documents circulation. The Client OM enabled assigning tasks to users and adding the autocomplete function to drop-down lists. This functionality bundle would be impossible to implement in such a short time, if the team used only one type of services.

The new Marketing Service Team Portal optimized the working process of the company’s marketing department and enhanced internal document workflow. The new system gives a possibility to assign tasks to different departments, select executors, specify deadlines, track progress, and compare planned time with the time spent. The managers claim that it became easier for them to identify at what stage the delay occurred and what tasks caused most difficulties for the staff. This enables the staff to better analyze existing issues and improve the processes.

Employees used to experience inconveniences with updating documents because the system was not adjusted to the peculiarities of this process. The current Portal features special fields for adding comments and revisions based on which a document can be corrected. Furthermore, additional fields provide more information on the task, so that it is understood and accomplished more precisely and accurately. This facilitates fast and easy document circulation among employees assigned with the tasks. With the introduction of the new system it became easier to organize and access the work of the company’s marketing department.

Technology Stack

Server Platform

MS Windows Server 2008 R2

Client Platform/Application Server

Web browser with Silverlight support / SharePoint 2010

Technologies

SharePoint Server 2010, Silverlight 4.0, .NET 3.5

Programming Language

C#, JavaScript

Modeling Tool

MS Visio 2010, MS Visual Studio 2010, SharePoint Designer 2010

Development Environment

MS Visual Studio 2010, SharePoint Designer 2010

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