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Removing risk for project-based businesses: What role does email play?

6 April, 2021

Communication breakdown has been a silent killer for some of the world’s biggest companies in recent years. Swedish mobile phone manufacturer Nokia was all-powerful for over a decade but a report discovered that poor communication led to the unclear product strategy that saw it fall behind savvier competitors. While an investigation into Enron’s collapse pinpointed several senior management communication-based failings, and BP’s communicate struggles were pinpointed for causing the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig by a White House incident study.

It’s crucial for businesses to quickly spot the tell-tale signs of a poor communication strategy and delivery, and understand how to avoid becoming a victim. For example, a recent study found that 56% of construction projects are at risk due to businesses’ ineffective communication levels, according to research from Project Management Institute. So it’s vital for construction firms to understand the challenges they’re up against.

Documentation overload stacks up

Project teams are regularly having to deal with an ever-increasing volume of documentation, using disparate applications to access information, while having to deliver more work to tighter deadlines.

Further common issues afflicting companies across the construction industry include:

  • Version control: Not working from the most up-to-date document, and not having a view of which document is the most recent, poses a major risk to productivity.
  • Fruitless searching: Manually searching through documentation then chasing colleagues to find the required information is a key frustration for employees.
  • Remote access: Employees increasingly expect to be able to work from home and on-the-go, but often aren’t able to as firms struggle to enable remote access to their systems and networks.
  • Disparate filing: Commercially sensitive documents and emails are rarely filed consistently and are often stuck in individual employees’ inboxes.

This lack of control over document and email management is a major contributor to project risk and rework. For example, according to a PlanGrid and FMI survey, the Construction industry spends around $178 billion on rework. This is a particularly costly concern for the productivity of projects, with rework typically costing around 5% of overall contract values.

An impractical solution

It can be tempting for firms to turn to something like SharePoint as a one-stop-shop for all their document management needs. Indeed, more than 200,000 organisations and 190 million people worldwide use the tool to address their communication and collaboration failings. 

That’s because Project Management information and data, such as documents, contracts and contact information as well as correspondence like emails, which is often spread across business systems, can be easily centralised through SharePoint. Therefore, anyone who is overseeing a project or is new to the task has immediate access to all the information they require.

However, most employees tend to spend the majority of their time working in Outlook, which means using something like SharePoint could lead to project leaders missing out on a huge amount of information. 

A time and cost-saving SharePoint add-in

Rather than having project information in two places or investing in developing a bespoke solution, SharePoint can easily be integrated with Mail Manager. Our Outlook add-in, which was originally developed by Arup, integrates email with SharePoint by offering a two-way file and search system.

The solution uses Artificial Intelligence to learn project teams’ filing behaviours and preferences, then provides automation to ensure all emails are accurately filed. It prompts and predicts the filing of emails from Outlook to files within SharePoint and other storage tools. From there it allows the searching of all emails and documents from SharePoint through Mail Manager, which enables the simple discovery of project information in seconds.

This also removes the risk of employees filing emails in locations that make it impossible for businesses to discover or, worse still, deleting important information altogether.

Mail Manager integrates with most document management and collaboration platforms, so you can file critical project communication where you want.

Avoid communication breakdown

Project-based industries must learn the lessons of the communication breakdown that proved costly for the likes of Nokia, Enron, BP and many more in recent years. Putting Mail Manager to use will help businesses across these industries to vastly ease the documentation and communication issues that are stacking up against them. It enables them to retake control of their inboxes, encourages employees to work more productively, and opens the door to more effective communication.

For more information on how to address your business’ communication struggles, read our case study on how RPA Group used Mail Manager to enhance their document filing and reduce their storage costs.



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