April 16, 2002 By Merrill Douglas
Brown is executive and technical assistant in the Employment Services section of the Oregon Employment Department (OED). He posts a great deal of material on Edweb, OED's internal Web site for employees. A few years ago, when he needed to update or add a document, he called on Bill Rickman, OED's Internet administrator and webmaster, to handle the mechanics.
"And, boy, was he getting tired of me," Brown chuckled. Depending on how busy Rickman was, it could take a week or more to get material onto the site.
Today, Brown uses a content management system, developed by Stellent Inc. of Eden Prairie, Minn., to post marketing plans, newsletters and updates to a procedures manual. He does the work on his own, and the material becomes available to OED employees on the Web site almost immediately.
OED launched Edweb in 1996 as a way to distribute information to its employees, wherever in the state they worked. The Employment Services manual was the first major document it posted. "A lot of that was done by people editing [Microsoft] Word documents and e-mailing them to me," Rickman recalled. "I would convert them to HTML and build an index page that linked to all the chapters in the book."
Once he put the entire manual on the site, updating it was a nightmare. "Word doesn't make real clean HTML, so if they had to add a new paragraph or change the wording on something, it was quite a chore to go in there and do it," Rickman said.
In 1997, OED started adding its unemployment tax manual, a document totaling about 44 chapters. Instead of posting it in HTML, Rickman used Adobe Acrobat to convert the Word files to PDF format. That made the process simpler, but it still placed heavy demands on his time.
As more sections within OED asked to display material on the intranet, Rickman realized he needed a tool to make file conversion and indexing more efficient. In early 1998, OED implemented Intradoc -- now called Stellent Content Management. At the time, Rickman said, OED was running Windows 3.1 and Netscape 3.0 on its desktop machines, and Stellent's product was the only one in its category that would work on that platform.
Stellent Content Management is designed to manage any content an organization creates and wants to share on the Web, said Dan Ryan, the company's vice president of business and corporate development. The content might reside in document files, scanned images, e-mails, computer-aided design (CAD) files, spreadsheets, database reports or other formats.
"The problem we solve is how do we let people easily get the content that's in an organization, that's always been there," Ryan said. This includes content not originally created for the Web.
Stellent's proprietary technology can convert content from more than 200 formats into Web-ready formats such as PDF, HTML or XML. The system also provides a search engine and manages security, ensuring that users can post or view particular documents only if they are authorized to do so.
"We have several areas on our internal site that only certain managers can get to," Rickman said. "Because of the security group we assign to those documents, there are certain people who can check into that area. Those documents don't show up in the search results when someone who's not a manager is looking for something."
OED hired a consultant to help plan its Stellent Content Management implementation. First, they identified the people in the agency who would use the system and what permissions they required. In developing the security model, they had to account for the points where users' roles crossed functional lines.
"The person doing the tax manual was also
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