Durham Business School improves collaboration with Microsoft tools

College builds research community with Groove and Sharepoint

Durham Business School, a part of Durham University, is improving communication and speeding up work processes with Microsoft Office Groove 2007 and Sharepoint Server 2007.

The software is said to enable people to collaborate more effectively and easily on research documents, fostering a community feel between students working on the same projects.

Students and staff at the school, making up more than 4,000 users, can use the system for administrative purposes and for sharing research-based information.

The school has boosted its capability to share research through a web browser portal, which allows members of the academic community to access research documents from anywhere in the world and work on them online or offline.

Chris Fenley, senior consultant at Waterson's and Durham Business School's IT manager, said, "The system has created a community across the whole research cohort. Students are getting to know one another, instead of the few people they would know face-to-face, and we think this is important.

"Both staff and students can take control of certain portals within the system and develop them according to their own requirements."

In addition, faculty members can book department rooms for meetings, let colleagues know where they are with a diary management system, and fill in forms electronically. Feedback forms on the department's courses can now be filled in and analysed quickly and easily.

"The biggest advantage is the time savings that people are getting. They are able to do things a lot more effectively and time is not wasted. Things are also not getting lost anymore.

"On the document management side, it is a lot more powerful than what we had in the past. People can restrict who can receive or amend information and there are lots more options," said Fenley.

Faculty staff can also spend more time on students and research now that administrative procedures are simpler, and less paper is being used as processes go online, Fenley said.

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