The J. R. Simplot Company (Simplot) is a privately held agribusiness corporation based in Boise, Idaho. They employ more than 12,000 people in the U.S., Canada, China, Mexico, Chile, and Australia. Simplot's mission statement - Bringing Earth's Resources to Life - embodies our reason for being in business: they mold many of our planet's raw materials into a wide variety of value-added products which sustain and enhance life. As part of this process, they have made significant investments in environmental quality to protect the natural resources without which the company could not exist.
Simplot had changed significantly in recent years, in part through acquisitions and divestitures. As the company grew, the need for a more unified approach, both in the business and on the Web, became increasingly important. Previously, sites had been maintained with tools such as Microsoft FrontPage, Dreamweaver, HTML, Lotus Notes, and other applications. Simplot sought to unify all of their intranets, with the goal of offering value to each of their locations.
In considering a solution, Simplot sought to provide consistency and cohesion among the various intranet sites, providing a tool that would allow non-technical contributors to author content. They also needed a tool that would provide improved search capabilities on the sites. A Web development team was responsible for defining intranet requirements and evaluating alternatives.
Simplot took a phased approach to the development of its corporate intranet sites. Projects included a new look and feel, and a single point of access for all customer applications. Because of the need for tightly controlled content management on external sites, there are 50 contributors responsible for maintaining content on the intranet.
With a large number of contributors in different locations, the need to lock down templates and security, and use features such as style sheets to ensure consistency in look and feel, were critical to the implementation, as was the ability to implement a defined publishing workflow and approval process. Features such as content expiration and the ability to define future publication dates enhance overall efficiency and freshness of site content.
Simplot took advantage of several of CommonSpot’s customization capabilities, including the ability to easily create custom templates, custom render handlers and custom elements. The use of custom elements allows Simplot to easily re-use content across the site, while custom templates and custom render handlers provide maximum flexibility for ensuring that the company’s unique site design requirements are met.
Simplot also integrated a wide variety of external applications into CommonSpot using the Custom ColdFusion element. Examples of these integrated applications include an online phone directory for employees on the intranet, as well as product and location search applications on the Internet.