Willett, Hofmann & Associates (WHA) are a professional, award-winning, multi-discipline organisation who have been providing professional design and land surveying services to municipalities, townships, counties, state agencies and private enterprises since their inception in 1935. Since then, the firm has grown to a team of 50+ full-time employees. WHA provides services including structural engineering, transportation engineering, water & wastewater engineering, civil site design, structural design, land surveying services, architecture, and more.
WHA has been a happy customer of Mail Manager since late 2019. They initially brought Mail Manager into the business as they had issues with how they filed their project emails. When talking to Architect Alan Hulstedt on a recent webinar, he described their filing processes before Mail Manager as very difficult to navigate.
Alan commented: "Before Mail Manager, we barely had an email filing system in place. We had shared Outlook folders, and we relied on every single person to put their emails into that shared folder. This was end-user intensive, and if we couldn't find an email, we had no idea who had received the email in the first place to go about locating it."
"At the end of a project, we would convert that email folder into an Adobe PDF file, which was at least searchable, but we couldn't add more files into it afterwards. So, if an email came in after a project was closed in our books, it was hanging out there individually. This made it very difficult to find anything, and it was quite difficult to search. You could do a needle-in-a-haystack search in Outlook as well, but it was very cumbersome."
"As the IT guy here as well, at the end of a project, I would spend multiple hours converting that project into the Adobe file, which would lock up my computer for over an hour for some of these bigger projects. I wasn't able to work on other projects during this time as my computer was locked up converting emails into a file we could back up into our servers."
It was evident that the way they were working and saving their information was not sustainable, and it was a huge cause of stress within the company.
Why Mail Manager was 'hands down the way to go' for WHA
WHA was initially introduced to Mail Manager by another firm that had been using the software in Illinois, and after hearing about it, Alan commented, "I couldn't buy it fast enough." The firm was looking for software to instantly access existing emails and allow project managers to move or copy emails onto the server easily.
There were a few other software alternatives that they had investigated at the time. When explaining the comparison process, Alan said, "Dollars for doughnuts, Mail Manager did as much or more, and it wasn't as expensive as some of the other programs. Hands down, this was the way to go."
Alan explained, "We transitioned to Mail Manager really, really easily, and the initial folder set up was quite simple on our end. I'm not sure how they did it, but Mail Manager wrote a little program that meant I could take an entire Outlook folder, dump the code in, and it would move everything for me in much less time than it used to take me to create those Adobe files."
Once WHA decided to implement Mail Manager, it was a swift and smooth implementation process. When discussing the implementation, Alan said, "Before we started using it, we tested Mail Manager repeatedly and had conversations with the managers to make sure it would work for them. We then worked out a training program with Mail Manager, logged everyone into a Teams session, and ran through Mail Manager with everyone in the firm. So we had 60-70 people on the call for an hour and a half and had everyone up and running the next day. I had very few people asking questions, so it was a very smooth process."
Business benefits since moving to Mail Manager
Since implementing Mail Manager, WHA has experienced massive beneficial changes in the way they manage their projects. They now find it much easier to locate their emails with Mail Manager's powerful search function. Employees can quickly access all project email correspondence, and access filed emails remotely via their mobile devices.
Today, WHA has approximately 70 employees saving emails for various projects, committees, personnel files and more. They never experienced any pushback during the Mail Manager roll-out, and the team are much more diligent in ensuring their project-related correspondence are in a location everyone can access.
Alan commented, "As soon as I took Mail Manager to the board, they were asking how soon we could get it in... I haven't found a single person here that says we need to go back to the way we did things before. Everybody loves this. It is so intuitive that when we bring people on board, I can spend two or three minutes with them in the onboarding process and they've got it figured out."
Alan continued, "All of our emails are now filed in the same server folder, so if we need an email, we can go there and look for it. Mail Manager's search function means we can find files from the last time we worked with a client. We work a lot with municipalities so we get a lot of repeat customers. So, I might not have been the architect that worked with them before, but I can search for information in older projects in really granular detail, very quickly if I need to find something."
"Plus, with emails being saved directly to our server, we know that it is backed up and we can get to it when we need it, rather than it being lost in 'Outlook land'. It doesn't take any effort at all."