Strand Associates is a multi-disciplinary engineering firm across the United States that prides itself on more than 75 years of continuous engineering service. Their team of over 400 professionals strive to deliver engineering excellence to the public and private sectors. A testament to their continuing success is their ranking by professional engineering associations every year as one of the top 200 firms in the country.
Jerad Waas, Senior Information Technology Administrator and Justin Marthaler, IT Coordinator at Strand Associates, recently joined us on a webinar to discuss their experience implementing Mail Manager across the business.
Transitioning from paper-based to paperless
Over the years, the leadership team at Strand has gotten more comfortable with the digital capabilities of the world. They saw value in modernising their paper-based correspondence process. Jerad described the process prior to Mail Manager as quite resource intensive. He commented, "Our legacy process took too many people. It took a lot of time and resources and had quite a few pitfalls. It was difficult to keep all our team members up to speed, and it was very difficult to search through all of this paper."
Mail Manager helped the firm increase accessibility to project documents, supporting collaboration amongst teams in various locations. Jerad explained, "It was challenging for cross-office work when the paper was in a different location. Maybe all our paper was stored in Madison, and we had somebody in Milwaukee that needed access to those."
Like many others in the AEC space, the firm needed to ensure that all business communications were retained and available after a project. Jerad commented, "It was time-consuming to apply our attention at the end of the project. Someone had to go through and physically clean up all of that paper." This was made even more complicated as the firm has some confidential clients with permission restrictions that also needed to be navigated. Plus, if a litigation arose, all paper files needed to be converted to PDF, which brought its own challenges too.
In Jerad's words, "Mail Manager answered all these challenges for us".
How Strand use Mail Manager today
The executive leadership team at Strand wanted Mail Manager to be a corporate-wide initiative, and so, everyone needed to be familiar with using it. Jerad commented, "We wanted to make sure everyone in the company was licenced to be able to use the tool."
As a result, the firm has adopted a Mail Manager policy that splits emails into two categories. Emails can be stored in Outlook for 60 days and then in Mail Manager for the duration of the project. Once the project is closed, emails are capped for 12 years and then purged afterwards.
Jerad explained, "Every engineering project in the company has a folder dedicated to where we can store emails and correspondence. To continue with that corporate-wide theme, non-engineering departments also have folders, including IT, Facilities Management, Accounting and Marketing. We want everyone using this tool."
The benefits of having Mail Manager across Strand Associates
Since everyone in the company uses the tool, Mail Manager provides Strand with a very consistent approach to managing their project correspondence. This means that everyone has access to the relevant information they need, when they need it. Given the firm's agile ways of working, this element is critical to their operations. Jerad explained, "Teams are very dynamic here, and are often changed based on employee availability and workloads. Bringing new team members up to speed with client correspondence is very important."
Mail Manager is a solution that benefits all personnel at Strand Associates, regardless of which department they operate in. When questioned on the benefits experienced through implementing Mail Manager across the business, Justin responded, "Our engineering departments have seen the most benefit. Everyone in multiple offices does a lot of inter office work. The team in our local office might work with the team in Madison. They can easily find that correspondence. As we've rolled it out to other teams like facilities management, they're starting to see the benefits from it as well."
Prior to our webinar, Jerad and Justin kindly collected the following feedback from some team members:
"I use it for all of my Strand projects, coordinating leases, parking, etc. I find it to be very valuable for keeping track of the emails that I get regarding all the office projects going on."
"Thank you for providing the Mail Manager system. That is a total game changer when administering projects. A time saver and, in my opinion, makes Strand look more "current" when we can search back to find older important emails like most of our clients and/or competitors can."
"Implementing Mail Manager was a great move. I probably save 2 hours per week on printing and filing correspondence. "
Justin's advice to Mail Manager customers looking to implement the software across wider areas of the business is, "In terms of rolling it out to new departments, we've tried to involve them, knowing who should access. We generally allow a fairly broad range of permissions for project-based teams because, in most cases, anyone in the company could work on an engineering project. But in some departments, there might be security concerns about who can see the emails, so then we discuss who should have access, how they might use it, and how long we should retain messages."
"Engage with that department and ensure you know you're designing it in a way that meets their needs, and that will help encourage them to use it as they'll start to see the benefits."
Jerad added, "It helps when IT is excited about the product, but if you can get a champion in the department to also get excited about it and help drive the technology and the process in their own internal meetings. I feel like that really helps along the way. So, get IT to get the ball rolling, but sit down with a potential champion or two in accounting or facilities management. That really goes a long way."
For more information about Strand Associates' Mail Manager journey, watch our on-demand webinar, or if you'd like to try the software out for yourself, download a free trial today!