Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to report on the work of the JISC-funded RepoMMan project, which is developing a tool that will allow users to interact with a Fedora-based institutional repository. The tool facilitates user interaction with the repository whilst developing content, using a browser interface, and will bring partial automation to the process of assigning metadata to objects, as they are made accessible to a wider audience. Design/methodology/approach - The development of the RepoMMan tool is user-needs-driven and the project team has conducted face-to-face interviews and an online survey with potential research users. The findings from these parallel approaches have provided an insight into the needs of this group. Similar work will be undertaken with potential users in the teaching and learning community, and in administration. The RepoMMan tool utilises BPEL to orchestrate a range of web services. Findings - Potential user needs are many and varied. The RepoMMan tool will be the basis for flexible user interaction with a repository during the development of materials; the web-service approach also allows for the development of a range of ways to access repository objects appropriate to the needs of the content. Originality/value - The results in this paper highlighted the potential value of a repository for general day-to-day purposes: the RepoMMan workflow tool is being designed to adapt to these purposes as required.