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Construction Email: Friend or Foe? March 15, 2012

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry Hardware, email, records retention.
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Inc Construction, email is primary communications methodConstruction companies communicate primarily through email, even when using a project management software solution. Often it is reminders and clarifications to help document the project. Progressive construction operations and accounting departments leverage email in their systems to increase collaboration, nurture relationships, improve productivity, reduce paper volumes, spread news and update the project team. Often email holds over 70% of all the intellectual property in a contracting business when you include all the attachments. So what are you doing to protect this valuable data?

Construction Email attachments contain intellectual propertyWith email storage growing 37% year over year, limiting your employee’s mailbox size may improve your email server performance but you are simultaneously losing valuable documentation. Construction operations managers often create policies to drag n drop emails into a document management system. Some project management systems log the email on the project as they are sent. The problem with these approaches it that it requires a human to stop and take time to drag the email or always log into a project management system. With the smartphone prevalent throughout the construction mobile workforce is this a reasonable expectation of your project managers and field teams? Add texting, instant messages and social media to the mix and it seems that more often than not, there are exceptions that may sidestep your project system’s design. Even marketing and business development communications may be locked in a silo that knowledge in operations could benefit from. Then there’s the dreaded discovery when a project has turned sour. Accessing what’s been said in email can be a godsend or at least identify your exposure to risk.

Construction professionals are not only mobile but often project team members are recruited from firm to firm and their knowledge goes with them. When an e-discovery issue arises and a key employee no longer works at your firm, if you haven’t retained the emails you may not have any idea what’s been said. Worse yet is the opposing council may have an email sent from your firm, that you are unaware of. Being in the dark by forcing email deletion may have just worked against you. What’s worse is that email discovery costs are rising

How can a construction firm capture everything? Email archiving or integration to an Enterprise Content Management System(ECM).

Not every email archiving system can capture everything but some are worthy of discussion as they incorporate new features as technology advances. For instance, Arcmail Defender which can instantly archive your chats and attachments. It has also addressed communications shared in SalesForce Chatter, an enterprise social network mentioned by a few contractors who have deployed the Salesforce CRM system. Armail has been working with construction companies since 2006 as they offer a case study of Pinkard Construction online [PDF].

By having a email archiving system in place you can search across the enterprise for all incoming and outgoing communications, project related or otherwise. If you’ve ever searched in Outlook through 6 months of saved emails, you may be waiting awhile for results. Searching from an email archiving system offers additional search functions and shortens the time to locate critical communications. If you can increas productivity and reduce risk it’s a win-win. Once overheard in a construction management meeting, “The firm with the most documentation wins” is a mantra that is only true if you can also find what you’re looking for. As a reseller of ArcMail I’d like to invite you to an on-demand email archiving demonstration. Simply Click here to watch a 30 minute overview or Email Me to ask questions and schedule a one-on-one demonstration.

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Construction Communications and the Email Tidal Wave October 13, 2011

Posted by carolhagen in archiving, Construction Industry - Software, Document Imaging, email, records retention.
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Wave inundating you and your email inboxEmail can be a contractor’s best friend or worst enemy. Construction personnel communicate frequently to achieve good project outcomes and this usually involves email and with more mobile devices, text messages. Most project managers I speak to are inundated with large volumes of email that take hours to process daily. Many have taken the time to create rules and put emails in various folders to help them sort through their inbox. They also have to keep their inbox clean with mailbox size limits set on the Exchange server. Surely there are better ways to handle project emails, instant messages, Exchange Server communications and improve your ability to find an email, when you need it later because an issue arises.

In a recent study by IBM Research entitled “Am I wasting my time organizing email? A study of email refinding” apparently putting email in folders is a waste of time! After reviewing this research, an anonymous reader writes
“There are two types of office workers in the world — those who file their emails in folders, and those who use search. Well, it looks like the searchers are smarter. A 354-user study by IBM research found that users who just searched their inbox found emails slightly faster than users who had filed them by folder. Add the time spent filing and the searchers easily come out on top. Apparently the filers are using their inbox as a to-do list rather than wanting to categorize information to find it more easily.”
While many firms have implemented project management software there are still times when replies come thru regular email in Outlook and you have to log the email into the system (more work UGH). Younger more mobile owners often want to communicate through text or instant messages and find email too slow and “old school” making a construction firm’s technology appear outdated. The fear is that communicating in instant messages or other modes will make you more exposed to risk. We all know the person with the most documentation typically wins an argument. That’s why we are papering projects to death. The correspondence can also spawn multiple copies across your computer network including your Exchange server and Sharepoint. So how can we access emails we need faster and have the confidence that we haven’t missed any communications? Perhaps your email server needs a break. Let’s look a few possible solutions.

Monitored Email Folders
Having all email correspondence directed to an email address can make sorting project related and can be integrated into your content management system. This can give your entire firm access, with proper authority, to construction project correspondence by job. Each email recipient forwards documents to the appropriate job folder. Construction Imaging (CI) has developed a solution that goes one step further, called email manager. You tag it with a job number and document type. Then it automatically indexes it into the archive. Retrievable in seconds! The CI solution only requires having the AX back end – a standard foundation to their content management solutions. You can learn more about email manager and their other solutions at www.construction-imaging.com

Email Archiving
Email searching is much faster with Email Archiving systems and is the preferred method to address e-discovery issues. For firms with an Exchange Server, there are many choices. Not as many for those with Lotus Notes or Domino, but still choices. It gets trickier when you also need further integration to popular products like Instant Messaging like MSN, Yahoo and AOL Messenger that can really make this challenging. email archiving appliances from ArcMail There are also other 3rd party products that involve other departments, CRM systems including Salesforce with their social media communications center called Chatter that can make this mind boggling. There is an answer to all this – ArcMail Defender (disclosure: yes, I am an ArcMail reseller). Construction firms are attracted to this solution because it is quick an easy appliance to implement, you can be up and running in well under an hour. We’re conducting on-line webinars on email archiving with ArcMail. To Register and make email work for you, click here to request your ArcMail demo request date/time. We’ll get back to you promptly.

While you await our reply, please read a construction firm’s success story with Arcmail

Does your construction firm use Exchange server, Lotus Notes or Domino and have you implemented instant messaging? Have you considered email archiving in your contracting firm? Leave us a comment and share what you’re doing to make email work for you.

Xobni Helping Hand for LinkedIn & Outlook July 13, 2009

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software.
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Haven’t heard of Xobni?  Its a plug-in that can really save you time!  I stumbled across it while using LinkedIn.  You can find people and email quickly with this tool, and it can improve your productivity.  What Xobni does is index the email in Outlook so you can find it about 50X faster.  With the option to connect to profiles in LinkedIn & Facebook, you will see the employer, job title & photo when sending or receiving email.  You’ll also have immediate access to their profile.  Your conversations will be threaded based upon the subject line to make it easier to spot who said what & when.  Xobni will find attachments by person too. 

It works as a sidebar in Outlook and acts as an automatic address book.  Look for a person and it will also display their phone number.  The sidebar displays recent emails and will find attachments by person too.  When you are looking at attachments it will place the most recent at the top of the list so if you have exchanged a few versions, you can can grab the current version quickly.  There’s even a search in the attachments if you need to look through the results list. 

A few other great features include Hoovers & Skype connectivity. But my favorite things are the statistics and email analytics.  From here you can tell what day you are slowest to respond to email and who you email most often. You can view what times your contacts send you emails most often, so you know when they are on-line and likely to pick up the phone.

The biggest drawback is it can create volumes of traffic on your Microsoft Exchange server.  In order to install it you’ll need admin privledges and if running off a Exchange server, you’ll want to use what’s called cached exchange mode.  If your administrator says no, don’t feel you’re locked out… you can still use it on your personal computer at home.

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