The French Ministry of Agriculture made a choice in 2009 to use the Nuxeo Platform for developing internal content-centric applications. The Ministry has deployed a strategy to limit the number of software components in order to optimize skills and infrastructure, and has invested in methodologies such as MAREVA, CMMi, and ITIL. The objective is to enable their teams to build and deploy custom solutions with an accelerated time to delivery.
Today, they have 5 development projects based on the Nuxeo Platform, ranging from document management to correspondence management to managing the flow and distribution of government memorandums.
Following is a profile of the two major projects in the portfolio: Memorandum Management and Correspondence Management.
At the Ministry of Agriculture, communication passes through memorandums, which are distributed to the agencies within the Ministry. They can also appear in a journal that is published every Thursday on an Intranet site for internal users, or in an official Ministry newsletter for the public.
There were some problems with the manual processes behind this distribution, such as:
- It was too time consuming for the site administrator;
- Consultation was not optimized: no notifications were given about memorandums that affected a highly targeted population. The search function was also quite limited;
- Two different sites were used, one public, the other internal, with duplication of memoranda directed to both partners and agents;
- Finally, access rights were not flexible enough, so that an administrator had to set up a special solution for memoranda with highly restricted access.
The Memorandum Management application manages the publishing and distribution from a single source, eliminating duplication of content and administration. The Nuxeo Platform serves as a content management back-end, and Nuxeo WebEngine is the front-end.
The application automates processes,from creation of the memorandums, to generation of a cover page, to the public process. There is also a subscription service for users, so that they can automatically receive the weekly summary of published memorandums.
The creation of memorandums is guided by the application, with a form and metadata that must be filled out. Then there is a validation process, with a timestamp. A single memorandum consists of the note itself and related documents, which are all compiled into a single PDF file. The PDF is then validated, and a request to publish is issued.
Each memorandum has a permission type that indicates whether it is to be published internally, on the public site, or limited to a specified group.
Every Thursday at noon, 3 automated processes are launched:
- The link to the weekly summary is sent to all subscribers,
- An email with links to all memoranda to publish on the public newsletter is sent to the site administrator,
- A list of people with a vested interest in one or more of the memoranda is compiled, and an email is sent with a link to the content they require.
There is also a notion of archives, and it is possible to consult all weekly summaries online, either through navigation, or through advanced search mechanisms. All of the memoranda are also classified by theme.
The Memorandum Management application was built in 6 man-months. It introduced a set of automated mechanisms designed with Nuxeo Studio that improved the process of developing, validating and publishing. It also helped improve consultation through search and thematic browsing.
Finally, it has improved distribution through a subscription process and a system of automatic notifications developed with Nuxeo Studio, while centralizing the management of access rights, with many end-user profiles.
One of the manual processes at the French Ministry of Agriculture is the management of the back-and-forth exchanges of correspondence, by fax, by paper, and by email. They have tried in the past to manage correspondence with different software tools, but they were too complicated to use, and the users, who were secretaries at the Ministry, did not adopt them.
The goals of the new correspondence management application were:
- to manage electronically all incoming and outgoing correspondence,
- to provide archives of the correspondence,
- to provide a mechanism for search and retrieval, and
- to create links between related correspondence items.
The solution, built with the Nuxeo Platform, is pragmatic and user friendly. For incoming correspondence, it provides functionality to enter the mail item, assign it or redirect it, and to classify it. Functionality for outgoing correspondence includes validation, a timestamp, and classification.
Nuxeo Studio was used to customize and configure the application, so that maintenance would be as easy as possible. Nuxeo Studio features were used for:
- development of document types for incoming and outgoing correspondence, classification plans;
- creation of tabs for easy visualization of incoming and outgoing correspondence, workflows, and items to classify;
- defining metadata specific to incoming and outgoing correspondence.
To build a better user experience, the number of clicks was reduced wherever possible. For example, a simple “Save and Create” button enables users to create multiple entries faster.
Building the application took less than 20 days, with 2 people on the team. Design work in Nuxeo Studio was done by a junior employee, and no development was necessary.
The application was initially rolled out in a single department, and then deployed for the entire Ministry.