Using Huddle to increase project transparency and efficiency with clients

Established over 50 years ago, RGP (Ratcliffe Groves Partnership) provides a range of services - from architectural design through to construction management of sites for their clients.

RGP uses Huddle to collaborate on a broad range of architectural projects; working intensively with their clients, internally across teams, and with external contractors.

 

“Huddle saves us weeks of IT effort each year. All major projects require a collaboration portal, but Huddle is by far the easiest of all of them to use.”

Nick loannou, RGP’s Head of IT.

 

The challenge

As the architect on large construction projects, it’s important for RGP to act as the focal point for project activities, bringing together internal and external stakeholders to work efficiently and ensure a successful delivery for each project.

“It’s critical that everyone working on the project has access to the very latest information and can easily see how a project is progressing,” explained loannou. “For example, with one project for a large supermarket chain, we had team members from over 30 different organizations. Many of these were client stakeholders or external contractors. People joined at various stages in the project, and, with thousands of files to collaborate on, trying to manage and share content over email, or overly complex construction project management tools, was a nightmare.”

 

“It’s critical that everyone working on a project has access to the very latest information, and can easily see how the project is progressing.”

 

Nick went on to explain the burden that legacy tools were placing on him and his team.

“Before we had Huddle we used systems built specifically for the construction industry. Not only were they expensive, they were also extremely complex to use. As such, we had to spend a lot of time developing training materials and running training sessions up and down the country for new users. Simple tasks like creating folders, adding new users and setting access permissions were time consuming. When we hit issues, it could result in delays to project delivery, impacting our client engagements.”

 

“We were spending thousands per month on portal solutions, and users didn’t like them, so they didn’t use them”

 

Along with the complexity came poor user adoption. This not only impacted project delivery, but also the return on investment. “We were spending thousands per month on portal solutions, and users didn’t like them, so they didn’t use them,” explained Ioannou. “Users would resort to email, which caused all kinds of headaches as we always try to ensure sensitive content is tightly controlled”.

 

The solution

RGP started searching for an alternative, easier to use, and more cost-effective solution, and once they discovered Huddle there was no looking back.

“We evaluated Huddle and quickly realized it would provide all of the functionality we needed at a significantly lower cost than our existing solution. It was a bit of a no-brainer really,” said Ioannou. “We wanted a provider we could trust, with the stability and performance to manage large projects, and, above all, something that was easy to use and wouldn’t require lots of training to get users started. When systems are complex people don’t want to use them and the burden of managing issues with logging in, uploading files or browser compatibility was too much. We could see that Huddle would address all of these problems.”

 

“We evaluated Huddle and quickly realized it would provide all the functionality we needed at a significantly lower cost than our existing solution.”

 

Huddle now provides a single location for RGP to manage all of its projects, and Huddle’s Workspace model means that access to each project can be tightly controlled without the added complexity of managing internal and external user permissions in a complicated file structure.

As an added benefit, Nick also discovered that many of his larger clients were already using Huddle for their own internal needs, which meant that many users already had accounts and knew how to use the system.

Nick saw the opportunity in using Huddle to strengthen client relationships. Today, RGP uses Huddle to bring together the internal team, external contractors and the client so they can all see exactly what is happening on the project.

“Huddle provides a lot of transparency which helps build trust across the engagement,” said Ioannou. “Rather than being CC’d on lots of emails, clients can login to Huddle at any time to check the status of their project, even on their smartphones, and see how things are progressing and what materials are available.”

Huddle provides much greater visibility of who has uploaded, edited or viewed what material and when. When people join mid-way through a project they can instantly see what is going on and have access to all the latest versions of the documentation. By centralizing collaboration, RGP can be sure that the entire project team is accessing the same (and latest) version of each document or drawing, eliminating discussions about who got what via email, or the risk of accidently sending the wrong email to the wrong person.

“Critically, clients no longer need to wait (or chase) for an email update, the whole project team can collaborate and see exactly what’s going on. People turn up to meetings and they already know about the status of activities and what is delayed, so they can get straight down to business,” added loannou.

 

The outcome

With the system RGP we was running before Huddle, they had to run introductory training sessions with clients and external contractors, along with producing training manuals and providing extended support. By switching to Huddle, Nick’s team has seen huge time savings year-on-year.

 

“Huddle saves us weeks of IT effort each year.”

 

“Huddle saves us weeks of IT effort each year,” finished Ioannou. “I’ve never had to write any training materials, not even a cheat sheet, and training road-trips are a thing of the past. Huddle aligns with how people naturally work. Once I set-up new users with a login, I never hear from them! All major projects these days require a collaboration portal, but Huddle is by far the easiest of all of them to use.”

 

“All major projects these days require a collaboration portal, but Huddle is by far the easiest of all of them to use.”

 

While RGP initially used Huddle for client engagements and projects, they have since expanded use into Tendering, Health and Safety and for internal distribution of marketing materials. One area where they have seen significant advantages is pitching for new business. Pitch teams can work on their pitch documents together in Huddle and then make them available on demand, for example right before a meeting. And, when sales teams are out and about they can still access Huddle on their laptop or on mobile through an iPad, iPhone or Android device.

 

 “Out of all the stresses I have to deal with in our IT infrastructure, Huddle isn’t one of them.”

 

Ultimately, Huddle’s ease of use, stability and popularity with users means that Nick has one less stress to deal with in his busy schedule. “I always judge success by ‘no news is good news’ I never heard any problems with Huddle and never get any support tickets. Out of all the things I worry about in my day Huddle isn’t one of them!”

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