Alpine Fire Engineers are specialist providers in design, project management and maintenance of active fire suppression systems. As an LPCB accredited company, the firm designs, commissions and maintains the most complex fixed fire protection systems. Alpine’s 30 years of success has been driven by a reputation of reacting quickly to deliver projects to exceptional standards, with excellent customer service.
Alpine have been a customer of Ideagen Mail Manager since mid-2022, and we were lucky enough to be joined on a webinar recently by the company's Operations Director, Mark Thewlis, who spoke to us about the decision to implement our email management solution throughout the business.
Alpine's email challenges pre-Ideagen Mail Manager
It is safe to say that communication at Alpine is vital - from their sales engineering output to their design and project management tasks, all followed by a lifetime aftercare of service and emergency support. Mark mentioned that “the main method of communication for our clients is email, so it’s important to have a considered approach to how we file our emails.” He continued to stress the importance of maintaining their values as the business grows, ensuring customers stay happy, adding, “we’re protecting buildings and people against fires, so we need to make sure that all of our communications are well-documented."
The AEC industry is well known for heavy usage of emails, so a suitable management software was necessary. To give an idea of the size of projects Alpine work on and why better email management was needed, Mark spoke of a recent project they undertook with a strategic customer; the 36m high facility was to be fitted with 40,000 in-rack sprinklers, with the contract value of £5.5 million.
Mark reflected on the project, “you can imagine that for such a complex project there was a lot of email traffic… we had around 6,500 emails regarding that project alone. All communication was done via email, this included commercial communications with the client and design communications.” Alpine's turnover has grown impressively over the last few years, and according to Mark “Ideagen Mail Manager has been really helpful in supporting that growth."
Before Ideagen Mail Manager, email filing was sporadic and not formalized. The business had been using Microsoft Public Folders which caused difficulties with remote access and manual drag and drop filing for the users. This meant that emails were easily misfiled and lost, or in some cases, they wouldn’t be filed at all. The company also noted that it was too easy to lose the Public Folders themselves, by accidentally dragging them into different folders.
Mark described this process as “clunky” and described how it began “distracting people from core activities." This was a deterrent for employees to organize their inbox. Mark explained that it began to feel like “a secondary or even tertiary concern for them”, and some team members had up to 5,000 unfiled emails. Alpine began to have concerns over the fact that it would take more time to find an email than to write it. Mark summarized, “being in a contractual and safety lead industry, communications and access to correspondence is key, and this was not the case with our previous system.”
Choosing efficiency: implementing Ideagen Mail Manager
When any business chooses to implement Ideagen Mail Manager, we provide you with support and training to ensure that the software is utilized to its best ability. As Mark described, “I was expecting it to be quite technical and IT-driven - it wasn’t. It appeared really simple, so we made the decision to move quite quickly."
Initially they tested Ideagen Mail Manager on a trial project with multiple users across departments, but after seeing the benefits and experiencing only a few issues, it was quickly rolled out across all project, design and support teams. Mark added, “the implementation was surprisingly pain free and all challenges, mostly due to our own misunderstanding, were very quickly ironed out."
How Alpine benefit from enhanced email management
Alpine used the migration tool to move all 'Public Folders' from in-progress jobs into the new system, which enabled full utilization across the business. “Training was minimal, new starters were easy to set up, and it’s now much easier to access any project and estimating correspondence with the Mail Manager search tool, which we’ve found is really powerful and really useful."
Mark continued, “remote access is much easier than it was previously as it’s all cloud-based, and those people with 5,000+ emails were able to go through and file them really quickly and easily”. In a sector where emails contain crucial project information, keeping a clear audit trail is essential and with Ideagen Mail Manager, the firm can achieve this. Mark commented that due to the simplicity and usability of the software, “email filing has just become second-nature."
Although Alpine have quite a large field-based service team who don’t use emails often, they have approximately 60 users enrolled at the moment, which is approximately half of their employees. “Over 100 projects benefit from Ideagen Mail Manager, ranging from £1k contract value to our largest at £15.6M. It’s much easier now to access project and estimating correspondence and we can also easily restrict who has access to sensitive information."
When asked how team members are finding the email management process changes, Mark responded that “they all find it a breath of fresh air, especially those who remember the Public Folders system! The change management was like leaning on an open-door." He complimented the ease of use and how much time and stress it saves on projects, concluding that the move “was widely regarded as one of our most beneficial implementations of a new system.”
Alpine now have a stringent yet simple email filing process, preventing lost emails, reducing time wasted searching for emails and the company are better equipped to protect themselves against potential litigations. Remote working is also easier for the team now due to the easy access to relevant files. When asked what he might do differently when rolling Ideagen Mail Manager out across the business, Mark stated, “we would probably roll it out quicker."