Modernizing your company with Alfresco
One day, an ordinary not too special day, your company chief drops by your side: “Cof, cof… Hey you, resolute and competitive worker, we need to reduce the consume of paper in our amazing company and we thought on you for this task. Could you please find something that help us on this process?” Not an ordinary day any longer. You start investigating and see a lot of results in Google with something called Alfresco… And you don’t have idea about what is that.
I know, this can be a really boring task. But hey! Hey! We are here to help you!
The goal for this post is explain you what Alfresco can do for you and your company through examples and real use cases.
What is Alfresco?
Alfresco is a suite for Content Services (ECM), Process Services (BPM) and Governance Services (RM), that woks as a platform, therefore you can download an install without cost in your local machine and use it. In fact there are 2 products “flavours” :
- Community version (for free, you can download it here and try it yourself with community support!)
- Alfresco Content Service (paying licence with official support, you can also download this one here and try it during 30 days as a trial version).
What can I do?
Alfresco provides a “place” where you can share, classify, drag & drop, search, edit documents and much more. Especially relevant:
- As collaboration app. For this, Alfresco Share is the tool: As you can imagine, Share is for Sharing 🙂 It’s a user friendly “website” where you and your colleagues can create, edit or share documents, have common calendars, blogs. To access, just browse to an url like http://localhost:8080/share
- As Windows drive: Share documents and navigate through folders.
- Build your own application with your exact needs.
- Combine it with other tools you already have! For example Drupal , Moddle or Liferay portal 😉
Let’s take a deep look into these points…
1) Share: Powerful collaboration tool
Alfresco Share is an application ready to use. Think of it like a toolbox: Use some tools, all of them or just the screwdriver to tight your company needs. Imagine the toolbox with its departments to place each tool: This departments are “sites” and these sites are the places where you can collaborate with other colleagues using Alfresco tools. Also, there is an app (out of the box!) for smartphones and tablets.
E.g. You can create one site called “HR Department” and invite all the company colleagues that actually work at that department. In this place they will have a document library (to upload document, create folders), forum, common calendar for appointments… In addition, you have the notion of workflows. E.g. As project manager I want that Alice, from human resource, review this contract details and, if everything looks ok, she will approved and send it to the worker.
Wow! There are several things you can do it with Share! Check this video to see how it works:
Video extracted from docs.alfresco.com
- Centralizes places called Sites, where workers can collaborate: Share documents, edit them and much more.
- Permissions based on users and groups (e.g. Alice belong to RRHH group, and can only see one folder in the document library).
- Control version on documents: You’ll able to recover a previous version and restore it!
- Search easily (p.e. name of document) and see result in a really fast!
- Smartphone and tablet app free for ios and android (that’s always cool 😎 ).
- Adapt your company work into “Site” concept.
- Train your workers.
- If you want to extend the functionalities, as minimum, you need a developer.
As you can see Alfresco Share is a really nice product if you want to start introducing collaboration concept in your company. But let see others possible uses.
2) As a “windows folder”
If you are old school worker, maybe you’d like to have Alfresco like this:
It’s possible too! With Alfresco you can have one folder in your machine (even if it’s Mac or Linux) and share documents with your colleagues.
How works? It is simple:
- In your machine, mapped as a unit disk.
- Access into Alfresco unit on you Computer.
- You’ll only see those folders in which you have permissions!
Also, once you have the first set up, you can click on “remember my credentials” and you’ll have available always your alfresco as Windows drive to navigate through folders.
Really nice advantage comparing with typical Windows folder:
- Keep your documents under version control!!
3) Build your own application
Now imagine your company need something else: Share is too complex for you and, for example you just need a page where you can quick search by properties and find documents. In this case scenario the best option is build your own custom application using Alfresco APIs.
Check this video from BeeCon 2017 where it’s explained how ADF works:
- Custom tailored app based on your needs.
- Developer & business analyst role are deeply needed.
4) Combined with others
We know: You company has a lot of different tools already, can Alfresco fit there? Maybe some of your tools have some integration with Alfresco. Perfect example, Liferay: If your company is using Liferay, Alfresco can be integrated. We personally love Alfresco + Liferay 🙂 Check “Alfresco Content Services Modules” section on this link to see the some integrations by default (be careful, some of them have payment options). In addition there are other list if connectors provided by the community just here 🙂
Gotcha! What’s next?
As you can see you have different ways to use Alfresco. Before you decide which is the best solution, we recommend you to dig a little in the needs of your company and do some field work to recap all of them. Anyway, we are here to help you! Contact us and we will propose you options based on what your company need 🙂