Eric Wright Group unites diverse teams in the Content Cloud
Advancing projects with the power of content
KEY USE CASES
Field operations management
Vendor and partner onboarding
PRODUCTS & INTEGRATIONS
Accessibility of content makes it easier to find, share, and use documents
Improving collaboration is a difference that’s hard to quantify
The end of emailing attachments; now everyone knows where they’re at with content
- With myriad projects, teams, and lines of business, content was increasingly fractured, chaotic, and hard to find
- Some employees sit at desks, but many don’t, and instant access to critical information in the field can make or break a project
- The construction industry in the UK is under intense scrutiny to govern its content for easy access to information and managing document retention for compliance
- Centralizing everything in the Content Cloud makes it easier for multiple teams to share content and information
- Cloud-based content that’s accessible from any device (with the right permissions) empowers teams to share securely
- Teams can set retention guidelines, find files easily, and stay compliant with changing laws
Managing content in an increasingly complex business
The Eric Wright Group began as a construction company, founded in 1979. Over 40 years it has evolved into a diverse enterprise that includes construction, civil engineering, facilities management, water engineering, property development, and other key services. It’s owned by the Eric Wright Charitable Trust, which was established to support sustained employment and community regeneration. The Trust supports a number of charitable causes in North West England, where the Eric Wright Group is headquartered.
The company is versatile, stable, and invested in giving back. As Chris Newton, Head of Business Systems, describes, “All the profits that we generate from the commercial business go into supporting the aims of the charity.” It’s also a highly complex organization, which is why, like many organizations, IT teams found themselves managing a tangle of technology platforms, SaaS tools, and shadow IT issues.
With around 750 employees and additional subcontractors and agency staff all utilizing the various types of content common to daily business, the lift for the Eric Wright Group’s IT team is heavy. In addition, staff have very diverse roles and requirements, working in a range of challenging environments. Some people use Box throughout the day, while others are very occasional users, accessing data from a mix of laptops, tablets, and mobile devices.
People who only need sporadic access to content are among the most critical content-users. They are most likely to be isolated from the core business functions and knowledge resources of the business. If they don’t have access to the information they need when they need it, the knock-on effects can be serious. That’s why moving all the different types of content it takes to run the business — contracts, inspection photos, plans, policies, procedures, and more — into one centralized place in the cloud became a contemporary business imperative for the Eric Wright Group.
Simplifying working with content across teams
Before 2022, content was more or less housed in a document management system that had been fully ingrained into the business for nearly a decade. This legacy system was outdated, with no direct upgrade path to a replacement system.
Newton elaborates: “Because of the number of our people who work remotely — some who work in very unconnected areas — to get to our old document management system was quite technically challenging in terms of VPNs and firewalls.” As a workaround, people often saved critical documents to local laptops and fell back on shadow IT solutions.
This presented several problems:
- The existing content management system didn’t allow for “anywhere” access to files
- The platform depended heavily on outdated technology, which limited content functionality
- It was difficult to search for documents — and not easy to share
The legacy system was perceived to be difficult to use, cumbersome, and outdated. Both internal and external file collaboration were difficult to manage, and the technologies underpinning some of the key functionalities had reached “end of life” status. In 2022, the company decided to research the market for an alternative solution, and, after a comprehensive selection process, they chose the Box Content Cloud.
Orchestrating a smooth shift to the Content Cloud
The Eric Wright Group’s complex content landscape included a lot of siloed content on an aging content management system and network shares. Once the decision was made to move content to Box for secure, central, simplified access, it was a matter of migration. There was a lot of pressure on the IT team to execute the change quickly to avoid the need to renew their contract for the legacy platform.
Leaning on Box Consulting also made for a smooth and speedy transition. Brendan O’Shea, Project Manager, says, “Box consultants have taken the time to understand our business and get to know us. They’ve reached out and built relationships with people in our business so they can understand how we use the functionality of Box. It hasn’t felt generic.”
Extending benefits with security and workflow capabilities
Getting employees to stop carrying critical files on their own devices and store data within Box was a huge boost for content security. O’Shea says, “From a risk point of view, that's a real example of something that might seem a little small… but it isn’t. It’s a really important feature.”
The Eric Wright Group also takes advantage of Box to simplify various content processes:
- The fleet-management team uses Box Mobile to upload photographs of cars during inspections and capture any damage or anomalies, loading them directly into the system with zero lag
- The subcontractor in the field who needs middle-of-the-night access to a job site relies on a secure Box Mobile file that contains the sites key code and alarm code
- Teams store and share project documents with external partners to stay both accountable and transparent
“The use cases are very diverse,” says O’Shea, “but people are definitely using Box to collaborate internally — and externally as well, where we’re required by contract to provide things like performance information.”
Equally important to the team is the variety of devices that can now be used and the functionality associated with these — for example, Box Mobile, Box Capture, etc. And Eric Wright Group is currently looking into Box Relay to help streamline workflows across divisions. For instance, when a new contract is generated, Box Relay helps create a consistent folder structure with minimal manual intervention. It automates the process of creating new contracts and sending documents to subcontractors.
The company is simultaneously evaluating Box Canvas and has a pilot project underway within the HR organization. Newton predicts a wider need for Canvas in other areas of the organization once that pilot’s been successful. For instance, O’Shea describes, “We might have an architect and mechanical engineer, both working remotely, and hopefully they’ll be able to use Canvas to collaborate.”
Assured security in the Content Cloud
In addition to core Box functionality, the team at Eric Wright Group also takes advantage of Box Shield for data loss prevention and additional content security.
Content security is particularly important for construction in the UK, whose construction industry has seen a significant increase in document recording and compliance requirements in recent years. New legislation now requires construction companies to preserve content as a paper trail. Companies in the UK have to be far more careful about how they’re using, creating, sharing, and — critically — disposing of content and files.
To that end, Box protects and helps govern the firm’s content in various ways:
- Classification — Controlling the sharing of documents and identifying whether they can be shared externally or just internally
- Retention — Meeting requirements for how long they’re supposed to keep certain kinds of documents (in some cases, up to 40 years)
- Data loss prevention — Knowing they have everything backed up in the cloud and, for extra measure, using Box Shield
- Legality and cybersecurity — Meeting the right levels of both
In addition, says O’Shea, “There’s a real security blanket there for the directors, who know if they need to find a version of a contract, they won’t be scrambling around trying to find old documents and emails. It’s all in one place, and for the Board, that’s a big security benefit.”
A solid implementation makes for a solid future
The Eric Wright Group has been happy with the experience of working with Box. “People have been reactive and also proactive in terms of guiding us through the process,” O’Shea confirms. “As an implementation, it’s been a good experience. In fact, the head of the fleet team walked past me yesterday using Box Mobile and said, ‘There are no downsides to this!’ Now, the goal is to keep the momentum going.”
It’s now a better, easier experience to file, find, and use documents. And Box has certainly met our key performance criteria.
— Chris Newton, Head of Business Systems, The Eric Wright Group