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Federal Aviation Administration 

Government agency achieves financial benefits and reduces IT expenses.

Airplane sits on the tarmac.

For government agencies, IT shared services are a proven strategy for delivering high-quality solutions faster and more efficiently. Case in point: The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) shared Enterprise Document Management Service (EDMS), under FAA's Office of Information and Technology (AIT) organization, was built with broad enterprise consumption, economies of scale and cost and time savings in mind.

Powered by Hyland's Alfresco platform, EDMS embodies the IT shared services vision.

"EDMS is a shared service to help the agency's business partners plan for and satisfy their business needs. This success is attributed to an early focus on end-to-end service planning, governance and standardization with an eye towards enterprise adoption,” said Carmen Marco, SVP of digital experience services at professional services firm Network Designs, Inc. (NDi).

Building on success

The FAA’s journey to EDMS began when AIT hired NDi to replace an aging document management system for the Office of Rulemaking. The resulting solution — Rulemaking Information Management System (RIMS) — used Alfresco Content Services and Alfresco Process Services to streamline the review, approval and storage of rulemaking documents.

After building RIMS, NDi saw an opportunity to help AIT resolve two issues the organization faced: a long list of requests for document management capabilities and many disparate repositories with mounting maintenance costs. NDi engaged with AIT on an enterprise shared service that could meet the needs of customers across the FAA.

New enterprise document management service

AIT hired NDi to plan and implement Alfresco as a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering in the AWS public community cloud via the FAA’s Cloud Service. Alfresco is a modern, shared services platform that offers multiple advantages, including a modular, cloud-native architecture, open standards support, an open-source core and APIs that decouple front-end applications from the platform for maximum long-term flexibility.

NDi oversaw the EDMS implementation process, from service definition and governance to establishing a robust and scalable architecture, to onboarding user groups to production. A government contractor for nearly 25 years, NDi brought its expertise in program management, business analysis, user experience design, systems architecture, agile development, DevSecOps, change management and shared service pricing.

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EDMS is a shared service to help the agency’s business partners plan for and satisfy their business needs. This success is attributed to an early focus on end-to-end service planning, governance and standardization with an eye towards enterprise adoption.

— Carmen Marco, SVP, Digital Experience, Network Designs, Inc.

PaaS architecture

NDi established an architecture to support a PaaS offering that supports the development and deployment of web-based applications. The application layer for EDMS hosts clustered resources that leverage integrated enterprise services for secure access, end-to-end encryption and high availability. The shared services layer contains several services such as core repositories, search, content modeling, indexing, process designer and more exposed through REST APIs. Storage services are provided and accessed through a secure API service that uses Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) for storing system metadata and connects to Amazon Simple Cloud Storage Service (S3) for document and object storage.

EDMS matures and grows

About 18 months after the EDMS project launched, NDi onboarded business partners with varying document, workflow and user interface requirements from internal FAA lines of business.

The Office of Rulemaking was the first EDMS customer. Their RIMS system was onboarded in just two days. Other EDMS customers include the FAA Contracting Office, which manages contracts agency-wide, and the Airports line of business, which maintains thousands of documents related to the safety, capacity and condition of the U.S. airport system.

Multiple financial benefits

For effective financial and budgetary planning, NDi developed a holistic cost model for EDMS that includes labor and assets based on a forecasted customer pipeline. The team provided the agency the confidence via data to make the decision to provide the service.

Contract consolidation has been another budget-friendly outcome of EDMS. The FAA stands to get more value from a single Enterprise License Agreement than several smaller contracts with multiple vendors. Plus, the FAA can decommission legacy document management systems as customers are onboarded, which helps rationalize the agency’s application portfolio and reduce IT expenses.

Strong internal demand

NDi continues to support EDMS with resources committed to intake and customer engagement, production and the help desk.

There is a healthy pipeline of customers to onboard to EDMS, and NDi is working with FAA’s AIT to transition those enterprise customers onto the platform.

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