Open Text brings case management to SharePoint

SharePoint will continue its growing stature as a popular enterprise platform, courtesy of enhanced enterprise content management functionality from Open Text.

The enterprise content management firm announced Monday that it will be rolling out a new development framework that extends into Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007, allowing users to work on their case management via the increasingly popular SharePoint interface.

Open Text Case Management Framework—SharePoint edition will be able to create and retire cases, provide dashboard viewing, offer metadata inheritance, a rich desktop client with drag-and-drop functionality, and search, subscription, and lifecycle management capability across cases.

Officials from Open Text could not comment at press time.

The deal is evidence, said IDC research manager for enterprise mash-ups and portal strategies Kathy Quirk, of the growing popularity of SharePoint in and across the enterprise. “More organizations are looking at it as a centralized user interface, and now they’re building the interface from SharePoint to encompass a wider variety of enterprise data,” she said. “It’s more and more used as a collaborative infrastructure and they’re just building off it as business users are comfortable with the user interface and use it to easily access different data and collaborate on a number of enterprise processes—especially content management processes.”

This surmounts the common enterprise problem of a hard-to-use enterprise content management system. Quirk said, “There has been a problem with user adoption there. This gives the user the nice SharePoint interface.”

This adaptability is helping to popularize the application as a platform to build on top of, she said, which are the exact two factors that Microsoft itself is touting about SharePoint and Open Text Case Management Framework—SharePoint edition. According to SharePoint senior product manager—ECM Lead Evan Richman, “Open Text is leveraging the SharePoint platform to make the end user experience seamless in getting that relevant case data and content they need. There’s a layer of usability and scalability across the enterprise that hasn’t been seen before.”

Info-Tech Research analyst Fen Yik said that this is a solid move for both corporations. “Open Text is taking advantage of SharePoint’s popularity, along with the rapidly expanding market of case management,” he said. Yik pointed out that Microsoft has had a foot in this market for a while via the content management components of SharePoint, but that this partnership will result in an easier go of it for enterprise IT managers.

Said Yik: “SharePoint can track and manage cases but that currently requires extensive customization development, or it would just have limited functionality. This program will allow companies (that functionality) who might not have the resources for such custom development.”

Richman agreed. “We wanted to minimize the customization involved.”

One thing that remains to be seen, according to Yik, is the level of support that Microsoft will provide this application. “With customer support (of similar extension applications), their track record has been less than stellar, especially with SharePoint, as it’s such a broad solution with a broad range of functions,” said Yik.

Richman himself pointed out that Microsoft’s expertise lies in the big picture rather than the details. “This program goes into the different verticals (via the case management capabilities), which is something we couldn’t do—we’re more of a horizontal vendor,” he said.