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Rockefeller plugs in

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By Todd Cohen

The Rockefeller Foundation is moving to digitize its internal business processes.

In early 1999, the foundation launched Rocklink, an Intranet it developed in-house that initially was limited to providing information for staff members and letting them post messages.

But with seven offices worldwide and 30 percent of its 250 staffers typically on the road, the foundation needed a portal to give all staff access to the same information all the time, no matter where they were, says Fernando Mola-Davis, the foundation’s chief technology officer.

So in March, using a portal system developed by San Francisco-based Plumtree Software, the foundation moved to a full-fledged “knowledge gateway” that features more developed functions and collaboration, Mola-Davis says.

The portal is the delivery system for a number of applications, including the foundation’s contact-information system and a series of business processes it has automated using software developed by Metastorm in Severna Park, Md.

Replacing the former process of filling out and physically submitting paper forms to request authorization for travel, for example, employees anywhere in the world now can use the portal to submit their forms, which automatically are routed to their supervisors and to the foundation’s travel office.

The portal also lets employees submit time sheets and review personnel policies, handles requests to mail publications, and reviews applications to attend the foundation’s conference center in Italy.

Each foundation division also can publish information and documents about its programs on its own community page.

And the foundation plans to automate expense reports and, eventually, to create an interface between Rocklink and its automated grants-management system.

“Our strategy is to create a virtual space where we make available all of our resources to all staff in a uniform way,” Mola-Davis says.

While the foundation is moving steadily to move its business processes online, it also is moving deliberately, says Brian Byrd, its assistant director for communications.

“One of the things we are conscious of doing is not overwhelming everybody with everything suddenly being automated,” he says. “It’s been a gradual process, a cultural change.”

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