Case Study: Pfizer & Content Managment

After having started my carrer in Sharepoint from Pfizer's projects, it's nice to know how the company has come a long and successfull way in content management.

They took the risk of being early starters and with super Microsoft's support, the result has been more than just great.

 A case study from Gartner on Pfizer Shows Why & How:

Like many large global companies, Pfizer had multiple content management systems in place and a range of user needs. It ultimately standardized on two global solutions: one to address collaborative content and one a system of record for regulated documents.


This Case Study details how Pfizer standardized on a basic content services (BCS) offering for work in progress along with a robust enterprise content management (ECM) platform that addresses Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-mandated content applications. CIOs, business and IT leaders, and application managers executives should read this study to see how Pfizer dealt with governance issues, migration from legacy systems and the costs of maintaining two solutions.

Key Findings
  • Pfizer had multiple content management systems (CMS) in place resulting in costly maintenance fees, strains on support and development resources, and siloed content. By standardizing on two platforms for clearly delineated tasks, it can eliminate servers and support for the legacy systems.
  • Success factors included having a solid business case, implementing a strong governance policy, leveraging third-party solutions where necessary and establishing a methodology for recouping costs.
  • Pfizer adopted a self-service model for new site provisioning that is enabled through a custom-created Site Wizard.
  • Consider the coexistence of a collaborative document management platform and a more process-centric system to balance user needs and different content applications. Identify deployment scenarios and establish clear usage guidelines, so users understand when to use which tool.
  • Build a solid business case for your SharePoint investments and for retiring legacy systems by focusing on opportunities for hard dollar savings, such as eliminating servers, not renewing maintenance fees and reducing the number of support resources applied to legacy applications.
  • As you begin to standardize on a shortlist of vendors in ECM and embark on a strategy to retire legacy systems, adopt a holistic approach to moving content into the newer systems. Along with migrating metadata and content objects, this approach should consider human issues such as going through a content valuation exercise to prune content volume.
About Pfizer
Pfizer, a global pharmaceutical company, adopted a two-prong strategy to solve its content management requirements. Pfizer's two-pronged approach is a prime example of how many Gartner clients are addressing the varying content types they must manage and providing users with appropriate tools for the tasks. It highlights the importance of good governance, building a solid business case and rationale, and leveraging third-party solutions to extend its Microsoft SharePoint implementation.


Like many large global companies, Pfizer had multiple content management systems deployed, resulting in costly maintenance fees, strains on support and development resources, and siloed content. Yet, Pfizer recognized it had a range of user needs and that one solution would not meet all. It ultimately standardized on two: Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS), a basic content services offering for collaborative content and EMC Documentum, a process-centric solution for its regulated documents. Documentum also serves as the official repository for all corporate records.

The Challenge

Being a pharmaceutical company, Pfizer had to accommodate highly regulated documents and records, but it also needed a way to support the more ad hoc and collaborative processes. For managing and storing its controlled documents and those associated with new drug submissions to the FDA, Pfizer had implemented EMC Documentum. Over the years, it has invested heavily in Documentum, resulting in a large collection of software and servers with associated customizations and IT resources. For its more casual document and content management needs, however, Pfizer had a variety of legacy systems including EMC eRoom, Open Text Livelink, Vignette's Web content management system, Plumtree and ColdFusion sites, Lotus Notes databases, Microsoft Exchange Public Folders and traditional file shares. Having this plethora of content repositories and applications resulted in costly maintenance fees, strains on support and development resources, and siloed content. Pfizer is not unusual in this regard. In a 2008 Gartner survey of nearly 400 respondents (see Note 1), 69% of enterprises indicated they had more than six repositories.


Pfizer set about to consolidate its legacy content management systems. Since the firm had already made a lasting investment in EMC Documentum, the Worldwide Technology team chose to keep it as the enterprise standard for regulated documents and corporate records. EMC's Centera is used as the long-term archive for inactive documents and records. For collaborative and work in progress content, Pfizer chose to build an enterprise collaboration platform on MOSS. This is in keeping with Gartner's advice to IT leaders, architects and planners that they consider SharePoint as a tactical basic content service providing a place to store, find and deliver documents and other content associated with project-related activities or work-in-progress content. When content is deemed final and needs to be kept long-term, it should be moved into an ECM system

Known formally within Pfizer as Enterprise Collaboration Framework (ECF), the SharePoint implementation is a collaborative, non-validated environment that handles business operational content as well as work in process documents. It is the global standard replacing the multitude of legacy systems for non-regulated content, especially eRoom and Livelink. Pfizer already migrated its static Web pages off of Plumtree into MOSS and has begun migrating other content. It anticipates moving fully to MOSS and Documentum by 2010. It will eventually be used to support the Web content capabilities now delivered via Documentum. ECF went live in September 2007, after a six-month early adopter phase. Part of the success of its coexistence strategy was due to communication and setting expectations. The Pfizer Technology Engineering team communicated to the users that Documentum focuses on facilitating the life cycle of a document, while SharePoint's focus is on facilitating the life cycle of a team.

Pfizer's ECF (MOSS) is used for a variety of collaborative and ad hoc content management activities. These include managing weekly meetings, building a knowledge base with wikis, maintaining custom contact information about team members, publishing information via a blog, task routing, creating slide show presentations and soliciting feedback with discussion boards. Pfizer implemented a library of prebuilt site templates to enable faster site creation. ECF is becoming as pervasive as e-mail within Pfizer.

EMC Documentum and ECF coexist at Pfizer and are well integrated. Pfizer worked with EMC to develop the integration between Documentum and SharePoint. Content can be easily promoted from SharePoint into Documentum. Schema Logic is used to provision shared taxonomies so that the same metadata can be enforced in both systems. Pfizer originally selected Fast (now owned by Microsoft) as the search engine to support federated searches against both systems. According to Program Manager, David Biersach, Pfizer's goal is to leverage the best of both tools and provide a smooth interoperability experience for end users.


Pfizer now has more than 41,000 active SharePoint users with 1,000 top-level, cross business unit sites and 7,000 total active team sites. It also supports secure external collaboration sites accessible to authorized non-Pfizer employees. SharePoint is installed in four data centers and supports 11 Pfizer divisions and 122 departments. By design, approximately 42% of team sites are open to all Pfizer employees, rather than just a select group and over 25% of the current team sites have members that span departments and geographic locations. This has fostered information sharing and collaboration within Pfizer.

Though it required a number of third-party add-ons and partner solutions, Pfizer found SharePoint to be agile and easy to use. Training was handled through a combination of Web-based training and classroom-based training. As implemented, ECF did not require Office 2007. Approximately 60% of Pfizer's collaborative workflow needs were met out of the box with SharePoint; another 30% are addressed via SharePoint Designer and the remaining 10% were addressed without the need for custom code using K2's blackpearl product. Pfizer leverages Cisco for load balancing, AvePoint for fine-grained backup and restore, and Vital Path for content and metadata migration. So far, Pfizer has migrated 1.3 million documents from at least eight legacy systems into ECF.

To recoup costs of the SharePoint infrastructure (licenses, FTEs, third-party add-ons and so on) and the costs of legacy system migration, Pfizer initially implemented a chargeback approach. The business departments are charged a flat fee for each SharePoint site they created. Costs were assigned to the primary owner of the department of the site and a detailed use report was provided to each department head listing every site that was assigned to them. This approach has worked well as the businesses wanted greater transparency in service costs than they had received in previous content management solutions. However, the IT department found that they have had to grant a lot of exceptions in the per site fee and it is no longer practical. In 2009, they are considering moving to a model based on storage volume (x$ per gigabyte of storage per year) rather than the per-site fee.

Critical Success Factors

Governance and usage guidelines. Pfizer put in place a strong governance policy and guidelines for usage of ECF and Documentum. Everyone at Pfizer has their own MySite and the IT leadership encourages business colleagues to create and delete sites often as projects continually come and go. Communication was key; Pfizer created a document platform comparison matrix to help explain the standard tools. It also enabled self-provisioning through an online site request wizard. This requires users to identify document types and proposed use cases for the site to ensure compliance with their governance directives.

Shared services approach. By implementing SharePoint as a shared services approach and charging back the business, the IT department's cost model had a positive chilling effect on stopping the rampant proliferation of sites for spurious reasons. This approach gave the business transparency into costs and resulted in them taking an active role in self-policing SharePoint sites.

Content valuation exercise. Content migration efforts required the business to pare down content volumes. Though the human effort required was not trivial, the benefits were worth the effort. As part of this assessment, they found that some documents in the organization had not been touched in five years. They were able to reduce 13 terabytes of document storage down to six or seven terabytes prior to migration.

Business case and executive sponsorship. The CFO and CIO required hard dollar savings. Pfizer built a business case on hard dollar savings and cost avoidance: taking servers out of the data center, not renewing software licenses and maintenance, and by reducing costs for support resources associated with legacy systems. Success will be measured by how quickly they can decommission legacy systems, with the anticipation that that will occur by 2010.

Lessons Learned

Migration. Pfizer's IT team had looked at many third-party tools and tried a few; yet found the current generation of tools and the content migration market to be in its infancy. There is urgent demand for improvement of the tools and for deeper expertise among the consulting services providers. They ended up having to write some of their own scripts to analyze documents and information in legacy systems to prune unwanted data. When doing migrations, it can be the little things, such as file naming conventions and document links, that trip you up. With SharePoint it is easy to break links to documents if a team site needs to move to a completely new or renamed path hierarchy.

Managing the businesses expectations. This was where they went wrong, according to Pfizer. They had a formal timeline for doing inventory, metadata mapping and migration, and records management, but it was too aggressive and was driven by artificial funding timelines and not realistic estimates of how long these tasks would truly take to completely accomplish. Business often did not know whether documents were needed for legal or records management purposes. An ongoing challenge is the need to ensure that SharePoint is not used as a dumping ground, but as an active content collaboration tool.

Microsoft SharePoint 14 == Microsoft SharePoint 2010

From the official SharePoint blog:

"You have probably seen the news announcement today where we announced the public beta for the new Microsoft Exchange Server 2010. As part of that announcement, we also talked about some of the names for the “14” wave of products including Microsoft Office 2010 and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. I wanted to answer some questions that I think will inevitably pop to the top of your mind:
What happened to the Office piece of the name? We love MOSS. . . .
The first thing you’ll notice is that the MOSS acronym goes away with the new name since Office is no longer in the SharePoint official name. No one should worry that SharePoint doesn’t work great with Office 2010 since we removed Office from the name, just like people didn’t worry whether SharePoint was a great portal product when we removed Portal from the 2007 name.
The primary reason why we took Office out of the name - lots of folks associate the name Office with the Office client. We wanted to take the opportunity to reestablish the Office name and brand to be synonymous with the client suite. I say “Give the people what they Want” so everyone should immediately think of Microsoft Office = Office apps.
Don’t try to acronym Microsoft SharePoint Server to MSS since MSS is already taken by Microsoft Search Server. Just remember, SharePoint is SharePoint is SharePoint.
What about Windows SharePoint Services?
When you read through the announcement, you may be wondering what happened to Windows SharePoint Services. While we didn’t announcement anything new for WSS, and I want to assure you that we’re definitely working on a new v4 version of the product. It’s too early to drill into any of the details but WSS is getting a lot of new features and will be a great release. We’ll talk more about WSS at a later date.
So, what was announced?
Here are my key takeaways from the interview with Chris Capossela:
• Exchange 2010 will lead the way for the 2010 (previously referred by its codename “14”) wave of technologies and it will be available in the second half of 2009. You can download a beta today.
• Using Office Web applications, customers will be able to create, edit and collaborate on Office documents through a browser.
• IT professionals will be able to choose to either deploy and manage on-premises or hosted as a service.
• For developers, we are working on Open APIs, deep support for industry standards and developer tool support with Visual Studio 2010."
Actually MOSS sounded better, but anyways we will learn to say "SharePoint Twenty Ten" very soon! 
* Just registered, no wonder good ones were already taken!