Widewaters has over 50 years’ experience in the development, acquisition and management of retail, hospitality, multifamily, office and industrial and residential properties across North America. We now have over 13 million square feet of developed property across 169 projects, with a value of around $2 billion.
Since the pandemic, we’ve been focusing on growing our core business: commercial real estate development. In the long term, the objective is to expand our operations into growth markets across the United States, including Utah, Texas, and Florida.
Identifying an opportunity
To help us achieve our growth goals, operational efficiency is crucial—but in the past, our approach to sharing information with internal and external stakeholders presented some challenges.
In the past, we used three different content management systems across the business. Teams in each of our verticals relied on large spreadsheets to try and keep track of where information was stored. Tracking down information was time-consuming even for experienced employees, and it was also very difficult to train new hires how to navigate our storage landscape.
Realizing the potential of shared services
It was clear that we needed a new approach. First, we decided to standardize processes such as accounting, HR, and legal, enabling central teams to offer shared services across all our verticals.
To unlock the full potential of the shared services approach, we also wanted to streamline our approach to document management. The objective was to replace all the ad hoc storage repositories with a single enterprise content management platform, delivering fast, easy access to important documents such as surveys, leases, and contracts.
Working with our trusted partner Wisteria IT, we quickly determined that OpenText™ Extended ECM—integrated with Microsoft® 365®—was the perfect fit for our needs. Almost straight out of the box, the solution gives us fast, fine-grained search capabilities and robust document version control, all through a central, secure platform.
Delivering seamless integration with Microsoft 365
In close collaboration with the Wisteria IT team, we deployed the OpenText solution, migrated over our existing content, and decommissioned the legacy platforms. By adopting a train-the-trainer approach, we hit the ground running—and the business was quick to embrace the new solution.
One of the new ECM capabilities we value most is the excellent integration between the OpenText solution and Microsoft 365 apps. Our employees can work with documents using familiar apps such as Microsoft Teams, while all the data is stored securely behind the scenes in the OpenText solution. Everyone can find what they need in one place, which means there’s no more laborious searching through inboxes and shared drives for the latest versions of documents.
Shaping automated content workflows
Another great advantage of OpenText Extended ECM is that it’s not simply a like-for-like replacement of our old content repositories. Using the solution, we can build automated workflows for document-driven processes, which helps us accelerate many of our core activities.
For example, when our HR team adds a new employee to our HCM solution, OpenText Extended ECM automatically creates folders for the new employee based on a custom template. When someone leaves the business, the solution archives their folders—it’s completely seamless.
Reaping the benefits
With the OpenText solution at the heart of our business, we’re measuring efficiency improvements across the board. We can now share data with external partners up to 50% faster, and we estimate we’ve boosted productivity by around 350% because it’s so much easier for employees to find the information they need.
To learn more about the work we’re doing with Wisteria IT to adopt streamlined and data-driven operations, read our OpenText case study.
About the author: In his role as Vice President of Information Technology at Widewaters, Timothy Carroll is responsible for providing vision, leadership, strategic planning, and management of information technology systems and services. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from the State University of New York at Oswego. Tim brings over 25 years of information technology experience, including IT leadership, security, networking, application development and project management. He joined Widewaters in 2015, after serving as the CIO of VNA Homecare.