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Centrica uses cloud document hosting service

Friday, September 17, 2010

UK energy company Centrica has signed an Enterprise deal with 4Projects to use its document web hosting service across its whole upstream oil and gas business.

centrica.jpgUK energy company is so pleased with its experience with 4Projects’ web hosted document storage system, that it has signed an enterprise wide deal for its entire upstream business.

Centrica uses the service to share documents with people working on the project, including their own staff, front end engineering and design (FEED) contractors and risk consultants.

4Projects started working with Centrica handling documents for the Grove Field and Seven Seas Development, in the North Sea in 2007. This was followed by 2 projects in 2009 to handle documents for a gas storage project, and finally a company-wide or “enterprise” deal.

“They’re adding new projects to it every time,” says Martin Robertson, key account manager for the Centrica account at 4Projects.

 “As we increase our upstream activities we need a reliable and secure system for documentation handling and storage,” says Sharon Nott, senior project administrator for Centrica.

“The business has been impressed with the 4Projects solution and the level of customer support offered by the company.”

Documents on the web

Companies already have systems to manage documents internally, but it is usually very hard to find a way to bring in other companies to this system, because of security reasons. The 4Projects tool does it for them. Allowing another company to view the documents can be done by ticking a check box.

One of the biggest benefits of the system is providing people with a better way of sharing electronic documents than by e-mail. Sending large attachments by e-mail can be very slow, has a big drain on server resources, and means you end up with multiple versions of a document in circulation.

The 4Projects system is designed so that people should be able to find the documents they need without using folders. They can use folders if they want, but as most of us know, folder systems on shared document systems easily get very complicated and hard to navigate.

Documents can be searched using a range of different criteria, such as date modified,
who uploaded it, document status. The system can be used to handle any type of documents, including drawings, e-mails, tasks, discussions, “request for information”, technical queries.

There are also document viewing tools, which enable you to view software which normally needs special software, such as CAD drawings. The software to view the data can be hosted by 4Projects, so you can view the drawings on a web browser. You can also leave comments on them.

The tool does not have functionality to edit documents online – the editing is done using the core software.

The software has a full audit trail so you can see who did what when.

It can be easier if people retrieve the documents they want by searching by keyword or by meta data, rather than looking for documents in folders.

“The temptation people have is to replicate their internal network folder structure – but that’s what’s giving them the headache in the first place,” says Mr Robertson. “You don’t need to have a filing structure at all if you use it in the right way.”

The system can be configured so people add the meta data every time a new document is uploaded.

“It’s all about using the Meta data that exists – and allowing people to assign Meta data that they want with custom fields and key words,” he says.


Users can construct their own workflows or designs for how the system should be used – so for example, you can say that certain individuals should be notified when a certain type of document is uploaded.

4Projects leaves it to clients to build the workflow – eg stating that certain drawings need to be approved by somebody. “That workflow can be as complex or as simple as you want it to be,” he says.

You can have steps where people from different departments, such as the technical team and project management team, review something before it goes live.

About 4Projects

4Projects has been providing online document management services for 10 years. Other energy companies using it include Mott McDonald, EON, Poyry and Conoco Phillips.

10 years ago, the company was mainly displacing the cost of posting or couriering paper documents to people – now it is mainly providing IT infrastructure.

It was originally working in the UK construction industry, with a number of major UK construction companies using the service.

It is also used in other energy sectors – the company estimates that 75 per cent of the UK’s offshore wind installations in 2009 were using 4Projects.

Some companies migrate to using the system when they reach the point in a project where data needs to be shared outside the company; other companies start using it from the beginning.

Associated Companies
» 4 Projects

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