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"Mail Manager is an absolutely integral part of our workflow. I can't imagine life without it now as it takes away a lot of the stress of using emails, gives control back to the company and cuts out all the errors people make on filing. When we file emails, it's not just for our benefit but for our clients as well. It's absolute gold dust for us."

Steve Wood, IT Manager at Formation Architects

Formation Architects

Industry: Architecture

Location: United Kingdom

Website: www.formationarchitects.co.uk

Key benefits
  • Eliminated the burden placed on the IT team to search for information
  • Facilitated Formation's move to the cloud
  • Improved company workflows and processes
Formation architect's project


Formation Architects are a well-established, award-winning architectural practice based in Central London and Cardiff. With a staff of 90 and growing, Formation offers a powerful combination of development and understanding, design flair and construction know-how. Formation's aim is to bring all these diverse talents together within one practice.

The problem

As mentioned, Formation Architects are based in London and Cardiff in the UK. Given that they work across two offices and remotely, the firm hosts everything in SharePoint and all employees have access to the same information. One of the main issues the firm faced was that all their critical information was held in PST files which required a great deal of time and effort.

Steve Wood, IT Manager at Formation Architects explained, "Historically, we would hold everything in PST files that we would need to go into. It was very slow, very clunky and not secure for our purpose. PST files can corrupt, and if you haven't got a backup, it's a real problem, plus only one person could access the file at any one time. That's really what led us to Mail Manager originally. It was for the search functionality and to be able to find information rather than the archiving."

The decision to implement Mail Manager prompted Steve's decision to move the firm's project filing into the cloud. He commented, "This is ultimately why we moved to SharePoint as well. Using SharePoint with Mail Manager has raised the functionality for us, as it allows anyone to find anything on a project, even if they join a project that has been running for a few years."

As well as this, given the nature of their work, Formation has a legal obligation to maintain accurate and complete records for several years. Projects can take several years to complete, and so the firm had a huge requirement to be able to access all their correspondence for years to come from both a legal standpoint, but also a commercial standpoint to keep track of what clients and contractors have agreed to.

The results

When evaluating their email management options, Formation Architects looked at several vendors. Steve was heavily involved in this process and he noted, "There were a lot that said they did what Mail Manager does, but none of them had the ease of use with Outlook plugins, and none of them really did what we wanted them to do. They would file emails the way they want to file, rather than the way our business works. We needed everything in one place and easily indexed without having to change permissions. Mail Manager ticked a lot of the boxes for us and how we work as architects."

Initially when the firm came across Mail Manager, only their senior managers were using the software. Formation Architects made the decision to roll Mail Manager out across the business recently, as they wanted to ensure that archiving and filing emails was still consistent while teams had been working remotely due to COVID-19 lockdowns.

Steve commented, "Particularly working remotely, we need to make sure for those periods of time, we need to know that archiving and filing is happening. Mail Manager is a safety net for us now. The world is a different place, and there's no guarantees for the future so we needed everyone to step up and take responsibility. Its actually written into contracts now that staff need to file their emails and use Mail Manager properly."

On discussing how Steve's day-to-day has changed since implementing Mail Manager, he explained, "When we have had to historically go through email filing, its either myself or a secretary who have had to go through the files, which is obviously not a great use of our time. Its sometimes taken a week to find an email because we haven't had anything to go on other than literally sift through emails and try and find it. With Mail Manager, we can find things a lot quicker and easier by searching for keywords."

With Mail Manager, Steve and other staff members no longer need to spend valuable time searching for emails, plus they have added security, particularly since they have moved to SharePoint. By utilising our SharePoint integration, Formation have been able to successfully move all email filing into the cloud, as well as their historic email archives which has greatly improved their workflows.

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