SharePoint. Let’s face it – you can’t escape it. And you shouldn’t ever want to, especially if your business is looking for enhanced content management and wide-range corporate communications. Here at AIS, we like to consider ourselves SharePoint experts. We’ve studied the various intricacies of the application, used it for countless client projects and published many blogs (yeah, here’s another one) and white papers about it.

Recently, our client (FTI Consulting, with a network of approximately 3,800 employees in 23 countries) approached us with the idea of developing and deploying a global SharePoint Intranet solution. The intranet was to be fully secure and accessible to all employees, including a mobile workforce and users who were conducting business outside of corporate network boundaries.

Our challenge was to unify multiple, decentralized communications platforms, and develop a solution that addressed all site-to-site variances in IT organization and infrastructure. The platform also needed to be secure, yet allow easy access to users working on varying software and hard ware platforms across multiple continents – taking into account recent mergers, connections across domains, and in certain instances, entities with no direct network connectivity.

Finally, AIS needed to implement and deploy a SharePoint platform to enable ongoing enhancements and the addition of more functional capabilities to meet future needs, while enhancing the business value of the intranet well into the future.

Using SharePoint, we deployed a solution that included the development and launch of a new global intranet. We assembled the client’s global operations and communications through a unified intranet, content management system and corporate communications platform which was deployed with two server farms — one in North America and another in Asia.

AIS worked with the client’s IT staff to design primary elements of the intranet, including information architecture, navigation hierarchy and search topology. This included a centralized taxonomy for content types and managed metadata, laying the groundwork for future information management. Our team created an intuitive, feature-rich, graphical user interface for the intranet that provided ease of use, power and flexibility with multiple page templates and the ability to share videos, corporate news and social networking data.

By applying ADFS 2.0 and Microsoft’s Unified Access Gateway 2010, we maintained security while allowing access to thousands of users, many of which operated on unrelated networks, outside of corporate organizational boundaries. External access was also given to the recently merged offices without direct network connectivity through UAG 2010. The new offices have direct connectivity access the new intranet with their existing logins using claims-based authentication and federation through ADFS 2.0.

Our global SharePoint solution has not only unified all of the client’s existing business sites worldwide, it also allows for the quick integration of any future acquisitions — giving all new employees instant access to corporate information, policies and procedures. Further, by consolidating all intranets on SharePoint, it will now be possible to sunset legacy systems and reduce the maintenance costs of those systems. The firm now has a SharePoint platform that will enable it to provide ongoing functional enhancements based on business requirements – a big win!