Netflex BV is a specialist systems integration company in the Netherlands, offering end-to-end solutions based largely on Novell technologies. With an end-user computing and virtualisation focus, Netflex prides itself on its highly certified personnel and domain expertise across government, healthcare and financial services.
A key competitive differentiator for Netflex is the knowledge and practical expertise it has built up in combining technologies to create complete solutions. As a knowledge-based company, Netflex risked losing business-critical information each time an employee retired or moved to a different company. To a lesser extent, vacations and illness also presented difficulties, as it was not always clear where and how a particular employee was storing information on solutions or clients.
The company needed a structured tool for capturing and sharing information, to enable faster response to customer queries and to ensure that it could always capitalise on years of accrued knowledge.
The other key challenge was Netflex's need to manage large volumes of documentation. The company uses PRINCE2 and other methodologies to ensure consistent quality for project delivery, and these typically require highly detailed documentation. Netflex wanted to ensure that team-members working in different locations could locate relevant documentation and work effectively with the same set of resources, while avoiding version conflicts and other potential errors.
Netflex selected Novell Vibe® (formerly Novell Teaming) to enable the efficient creation, management and sharing of corporate information—effectively creating a "corporate memory". The software runs on a virtualised SUSE® Linux Enterprise Server environment, and is tightly integrated with Netflex's Novell GroupWise® e-mail and collaboration solution.
"Knowledge is our key asset, and we wanted to make sure that we could capture and share all of the information created by our business," said Anthony Priestman, Technical Manager, Netflex BV. "Vibe was the ideal solution, giving us a highly flexible and intuitive tool for extracting business value from our intellectual property."
Netflex set up project wikis in Vibe, and is now moving all client information into the new solution. This includes all training materials and configuration documents relating to each client's solution, as well as support and contact histories. The use of Vibe as a central repository for all information makes it easy for an employee to stand in for a colleague in case of illness or annual leave.
"Our focus on total solutions means that a typical project will encompass several different skillsets; we create virtual delivery teams accordingly," said Priestman. "Vibe enables these virtual teams to create and share information easily, avoiding version conflicts and minimising the time taken to find documentation."
Using NetIQ Access Manager™, Netflex has created different profiles for internal users and external clients, ensuring that confidential information is protected and that users can access tailored views relevant to their roles.
"The rendering engine in Vibe is great for providing information to clients," said Priestman. "Rather than requiring them to download large files, such as technical drawings, the solution creates HTML versions for instant in-browser viewing."
Netflex has used the workflow engine in Vibe to create automated approval flows for vacation requests, integrated with the team calendar.
"Workflows are easy to set up in Vibe, and offer an excellent way to reduce administrative costs and accelerate processes," said Priestman. "We can build scripts and export them to client environments."
By implementing Vibe, Netflex has gained a central repository for corporate information. The Novell solution enables Netflex employees to create and share content, search through existing documentation, build virtual teams and manage internal forums. Not only does this save significant time and effort—it also ensures that valuable information is safeguarded.
"Our employees can now see at a glance the current status of any client environment," said Priestman. "As we generate new knowledge, we capture it in Vibe and ensure that it becomes part of our corporate knowledge base."
Netflex will soon begin to use the conferencing portion of the Novell solution to enable low-cost virtual meetings. This will save time, money and effort for its distributed workforce, as well as provide the ability to keep a permanent record of the meetings.
"We are now using Vibe to build up a critical mass of knowledge, and there has already been a noticeable decrease in administrative costs," said Priestman. "The Novell solution ensures that we can rapidly find the information we need, which helps us to deliver fast, high-quality services to our clients."