McLaren, Engineering CCAs the Right Way

On a regular basis I get asked about Composite Content Applications, the concept formerly known as CEVAs, and it’s validity to the industry.  As I started looking back into my history for reference points, I would check back to companies that would rise up from some conversation or another.  Then one day another old name came to mind, McLaren Software.  I first heard about them when I joined Documentum back in 1998 and meet several of their team in Pleasanton building the first release of their original CADLink integration product.  So I thought I’d take a look and see what they were doing now.

McLaren Enterprise Engineer
The McLaren Enterprise Engineer Suite is a suite of applications focused on managing controlled operational content in Energy and Utilities, Oil and Gas, Process Manufacturing among other industries.  Their product is aimed at the management of engineering documents and insuring consistency in the engineering process throughout the life of an operational asset or facility. 

The solution consists of four modules focused on engineering document process to support Engineering Drawing Management, Capital Projects, Maintenance Repair and Operations (MRO) and Transmittals with support for the Management of Change (MoC) Process.  The solution is configurable allowing individual customers to meet specific practices or regulatory requirements that apply to their business while taking advantage of built-in industry processes.

This elegant solution for complex business and technology process has quietly amassed over 75,000 users.  By quietly, I mean using mostly their own sales force and their own partner channel.

Engineering a CCA Solution
Enterprise Engineer is a great validation of a CCA (or CEVA) strategy.  McLaren realized day one, back in 1997, that by using library services and workflow from Documentum it allowed them to leverage their own domain expertise to build the complex engineering components that didn’t translate across all (ECM) industries.  Their first product, CADLink, included integrations into standard CAD tools and a viewer that allowed for markup by non-CAD users.  Later, McLaren decision to build on an existing platform allowed them to continue to focus their domain expertise to grow with the platform capabilities to grow from an application from CAD drawing management to a suite of applications that solve a wide array of business problems faced by large engineering organizations.

Enterprise Engineer achieved Best Platform Utilization for a Designed for EMC Solution back in 2008 after receiving Offering of the Year in 2005 and Best Vertical Offering in 2006.  Today that same solution sits on top of both EMC Documentum and IBM FileNet allowing for easier adoption across more platforms.

Their UI also had a lot to do with their adoption.  The unique thing they did was to build these solutions, not on the ECM vendors UI, but build their own UI.  Most ECM UIs focus at the complex task of the author.  This often makes the learning process often more complex for casual content consumers.  Enterprise Engineer embeds their functionality into existing user experiences.  Library services are exposed inside not only Microsoft Office but AutoCAD and MicroStation which is the traditional UI for engineers.  Workflow task approvals are performed from inside Microsoft Outlook, including the ability to perform mark-ups.  These internally developed UIs also support the solution’s platform neutrality.  The solution doesn’t need to be tailored for the individual platform’s UI.  Support and training can be provided independent of the deployment platform. 

Whether CCA or CEVA
Even before a formal term was created, successful strategies have been built on content management platforms.  Some like McLaren Enterprise Engineer with huge footprints in industries not usually highlighted in an ECM vendor’s strategy.  So I don’t see this as a question of whether CCA as a strategy will be successful but whether this time the terminology will stick.

If you know of any other CCA or CEVA applications out there, please share them with me.

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