WSP UK Ltd, a region of the global professional services consultancy WSP Global inc, has turned to cloud collaboration technology to enable engineering and design teams worldwide to securely share information and efficiently work together on projects, regardless of geographic location. Using Huddle, hundreds of WSP’s engineers, modellers and managers, as well as architects, peer consultants, suppliers and clients, can work together on project content, including large federated 3D models and Office files, in a secure central environment. Replacing legacy collaboration systems, as well as email and FTP, Huddle ensures that all information for projects is structured, coordinated and managed effectively. The cloud collaboration service is now progressing well towards its target of more than 2,000 users by the end if the summer.
WSP provides services to transform the built environment and maintain the natural environment, and has approximately 17,000 employees, based in more than 300 offices, across 35 countries. Often never meeting face-to-face, teams of engineers, planners, project managers, technicians, environmental experts and other external specialists frequently have to work together on engineering projects. Traditionally, project content and tasks were shared via internal systems, but this proved to be a challenge for external collaboration and sharing files via email and FTP resulted in confusion over file versions. Frank McLeod, Director and UK Head of Project Technology at WSP, explains:
“WSP’s projects and teams’ skills simply don’t recognise geographical boundaries so it’s vital that everyone – regardless of what region they’re based in – can securely access the information they need. With the likes of FTP and email threads causing version control problems, we launched an initiative to centralise all the technology associated with our operations such that having teams in diverse physical locations didn’t hinder productivity or efficiency. We need to ensure there’s just one version of the truth and in construction it’s often the contractor who deploys a tool when they come on board. Such systems are usually quite complex, born out of the construction industry and targeted towards managers rather than designers. There’s also a mass of information and data that’s already been generated prior to the contractor getting involved, so WSP wanted a tool that was intuitive enough for everyone involved in a project to use from the offset and enabled collaboration within and across our firewall.”
WSP examined what was available on the market, across a range of cloud-based offerings. WSP UK felt that Huddle’s cloud collaboration service was the best fit for its requirements. The tool had also been used to support an earlier project. Right now Huddle is being used as a strategic service to help migrate people across WSP to the cloud as it is intuitive and can be used by anyone across WSP’s multidisciplinary teams.
“Huddle is flexible and user friendly and its use across WSP falls into two key camps – what we call projects and teams,” said McLeod. “Projects are live commissions for our clients and Huddle is currently enabling us to host and manage between 50 and 60 live projects, involving clients, external project management teams, engineers and specialists. A recent example of this is a project for a new international airport where we have people in WSP’s Basingtoke, San Francisco, New York, London, Delhi and Dubai offices all working together on the same content. The team camp relates to internal, multidisciplinary teams, with stakeholders from technical and HR through to marketing and communications all using Huddle for their own programmes. With full audit trails and version controls, Huddle looks to save us a significant amount of time searching for the correct version of files, sifting through inboxes and trying to share content externally. Tens of thousands of drawings and AutoCAD files are now instantly accessible to people from anywhere in the world.”
Whilst most people across WSP are using Huddle via their laptops and desktops, many are accessing Huddle when on the move, through the Huddle app for iPads and iPhones. In addition, the organisation is working with Huddle’s product and customer success teams to extend its usage beyond just content and collaboration to more content creation and authoring in the cloud.
“WSP is a great example of the increasing need for secure external collaboration in today’s 24/7 digital economy,” said Alastair Mitchell, CEO, Huddle. “Professional services firms are generating a wealth of content across numerous projects daily and sharing all of this information securely and in a timely manner with the people that need it is a real challenge. It’s good to see WSP using our innovative cloud collaboration service to break down the boundaries to effective collaboration.”