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Peerutin

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“If we need to find something, we can use Mail Manager’s search-on-steroids functionality to be incredibly specific.”

Lance Muller, Associate

Peerutin

Industry: Architecture

Company Size: 20 Employees

Location: South Africa

Market: International

Website: https://www.peerutin.co.za

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Three key benefits
  • Saving fee earners time – now they can find any email in three clicks
  • Improved project visibility - all project-specific data in one location
  • Happy staff - ease of use across the business

The background

Peerutin has built a solid reputation for delivering quality designs through a well-managed practice structure. A key driver of Peerutin’s continued success in the industry is the practice’s commitment to passing on these values to all the architects, technicians and support staff on the Peerutin team.

Peerutin Architects work on projects all over the world, from South Africa and Namibia to the UK and the Middle East. Their portfolio includes high-end residential luxury houses, transport hubs, office buildings, hotels, apartment blocks, mixed-use developments, light industrial developments and health care projects. Projects include Wembley Square, The Herschel, Nettleton Estate, ETV headquarters and Queen Victoria Hotel. Their aim is to bring together beautiful architectural design that surpasses the needs of their clients, delivered on time and on budget. They pride themselves on their comprehensive professional service, offering excellence at every stage of the design and construction process.

Lance Muller is an Associate at Peerutin Architects. He joined Peerutin in 2014 and oversees all IT strategies in the office. Lance is responsible for ensuring that the construction technology aspects of all projects are coordinated and integrated within the BIM protocols of the office. This includes supporting the respective project teams and promoting BIM and technical excellence throughout the practice. Lance was the driver behind implementing Mail Manager to help address risk mitigation and loss of information.

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Problem

Peerutin can be involved for between seven and ten years on a typical project. This normally begins with a design phase looking at local authority approvals and council submissions. That alone can take two years. Then, once approval has been given to start construction work, the construction process starts.

That can take anything between one and two years, depending on the size of the project. Following that, there is typically a five-year period where if any defects arise they would administer that contract and look after their client's interest. To do that, they regularly need to refer back to the original information.

Before Mail Manager, this process was described as being in the dark ages. Lance describes an example: “Bob leaves the company. Bob's computer becomes old and obsolete, or gets repurposed and becomes Mary’s machine and gets wiped. Then oh no, where did we store those PST files? We then had to run around trying to find old data, spending valuable time trawling through that person's data, searching by the user, rather than by project. Additionally, hardware fails, so there was always a risk of having information stored only on a machine. We identified that risk and put a lot of effort and resources into trying to find a bulletproof solution.”

If a defect occurred three years after Peerutin had completed a project, finding historic data was cumbersome and time-consuming. The value of information lost in emails depended on the nature of the query.

Peerutin originally tried to address the email issue by implementing a system that relied on human diligence. The problem was human error, people can bypass and not file emails. Lance says, “If you rely on someone's ability on a Friday afternoon or at the end of the month to do email filing, there is a weakness in the system. You can’t rely on people to file project emails in project folders, no matter how good they are at their job. And you are only as strong as your weakest point.”

They also looked at implementing an email management system based on subject line convention - filing based on the quality of the subject line. However, again, this relies on human diligence and they would often get emails from subcontractors or contractors simply with the subject line of ‘plans’. Vague subject lines could apply to any number of projects, meaning the filing system wasn’t fit for purpose.

The solution

Lance heard of Mail Manager through a consultant company he met at a BIM conference. The company shared a similar problem and had implemented Mail Manager globally to solve it. Lance trialled Mail Manager for one month and was impressed by the intuitive learning of the filing. During his trial, he quickly noticed how Mail Manager learnt his behaviour and began prompting locations he should file to, meaning he could file emails within three clicks.

After the trial finished, Peerutin roped in its IT support team and the Mail Manager support team to assist with the role out.

Once the project folders and filing rules had been set up, it updates for all users so a new project can be set up in sixty seconds. Peerutin also has three tiers of sensitivity for data. All staff are able to access project emails, management-level staff can access software costs, renewals and admin data, and Partners have access to sensitive information only relevant to them. Mail Manager allowed Peerutin to define those privilege rules according to their organisational structure.

Lance says, “We work in relatively large teams with lots of people involved. An example of how we use Mail Manager is a junior architect could be doing important research capturing sensitive data in emails. That might not be necessary right now, but five years later when that person might have moved on and left the company, or a more senior person needs to look into a serious query that has arisen and needs to refer back, it’s crucial we have access to that information. Mail Manager allows us to keep the data in a central location. At Peerutin we have taken the view that we like our project information to be project-specific and when a new project comes in, we create a folder within the project folders. And then once the rule is created all the specific mail filters through to that information. It’s that simple.”

Peerutin has had Mail Manager for almost two years and the burden of filing emails is now a thing of the past. To anyone considering Mail Manager, Lance says, “Once you’ve implemented it and you realise the risk mitigation it brings, ask yourself, how the hell did I not have this in place?”

The question is not the affordability of Mail Manager but rather can you afford to suffer data loss?

Lance Muller, Associate
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