ShareFile and the Chicago Construction Industry

Equilibrium recently deployed ShareFile Enterprise at a Chicago-based mid-market company in the construction industry. This blog post describes how the hype and promise surrounding ShareFile has come true for this company. This is a strong example of benefits available in the construction industry with similar benefits in most every other industry.

 

 

 

ShareFile Solution Overview

The biggest surprise was that this project ended up being more consultative effort than technical. ShareFile is so powerful and flexible, it takes a team with expertise in ShareFile along with a strong consultative methodology for such a deployment to be successful. The reason for this is that ShareFile changes existing business processes for the better within the scope of the deployment's timeline. For example, the process to upload and share photos in the field with external parties was improved from taking 5 to 10 minutes to 15 seconds. The initial scope of the deployment was 100 users covering a cross section of employee roles: Project managers (PMs), office staff, superintendents, accounting, executives, etc. Each user type takes advantage of essentially all of ShareFile's benefits, with some benefiting in more areas than others. Most users are mobile and remote and spread out throughout Chicago and Northwest Indiana.

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The architecture of on-premises was chosen. This company recently invested in new hardware and had more than ample storage capacity, backup capacity, computer and bandwidth to support the requirements. There was no sense in paying for a server in Amazon or Azure, however this option is available from Citrix and there is an option to easily move to IaaS in the future. This company was originally suffering from a common set or problems for mid-markets in the construction industry including:

  • Important company data would be stored in free third-party consumer services, primarily Box and DropBox. This caused a headache for IT administration as well as posed a major security and data protection risk to the company.
  • The related Windows software for these tools were not supported in their existing Citrix XenApp environment and being restricted to the web interface was less than ideal.
  • The attachment limit on their on-premises email server has been set at 10 MB for as long as anyone could remember. This has become the root of most communication bottlenecks causing the use of many workarounds. Increasing the attachment size would have other negative side effects in the environment.
  • Their hosted spam filtering solution would "strip and link" attachments on incoming over 10 MB, but this relies on the sender's system's limits.
  • The free file sharing services have limited capacity and the user would need to coordinate with IT to buy more. To avoid this request, users would rollover to additional free services and aggregate space.
  • The field personnel often struggle with the cumbersome process to upload pictures through their Citrix XenApp session via their laptops.

One major positive was that the company deployed about 120 company-owned IPads and mobile phones to their field employees in 2013 along with a robust mobile device management solution. There has also been a robust endpoint management solution in place for years. This solution can push changes to field laptops over the Internet with no VPN required in addition to the office computers. These management solutions set the stage for a straightforward technical roll out of ShareFile.

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The first third of the engagement covered flushing out the details of how ShareFile was going to integrate with and immediately speed up the business. It required many meetings and covered topics such as deciding on the POC user group, Pilot user group, list of initial 100 users, file sharing policy topics, increased cellular data usage expectations, expectations regarding use of consumer file sharing tools and top 5 business processes to focus on. After the above details were decided upon and expectations were set with the management team, the initial setup, system testing, POC and pilot phases began. This allowed both sides to flush out various details further and create a stable foundation for the larger deployment. The rest of the roll out was coupled with about 40 pages of tutorial PDFs with screenshots as well as in-person group training sessions in Chicago. The primary objective of this effort was to cover the most relevant features of the IPad app (of which there are many). The in-person training sessions ended up being a challenge. We received only about a 25% attendance rate even after completing what we thought was proper due diligence and providing proper lead time. Uptake of the solution was slower than expected after the initial deployment. Users needed to transition files from the consumer solutions, simply get accustomed to it and also wait for jobs to roll over and start with the use of ShareFile as the chosen file sharing service. In contrast, the Outlook-plug in had immediate uptake and had an immediate positive impact on productivity. The max attachment size limit effectively was increased 1000x from 10 MB to 10 GB. There is nothing for the users to think about and the plug-in just works.

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ShareFile Benefits

Now that the project is done, the following benefits are now available to this construction company and its employees:

  • Reduced risk to the business overall due to increased data protection, increased security and the benefits of all other features.
  • Significantly increased productivity. Field users and PMs now have more time to be proactive on their jobs. This becomes even more important as the construction industry and economy in Chicago continues to pick up.
  • Users don't have an additional password to remember as the solution uses SSO with ADFS.
  • Field employees can access and edit files from the existing network drives via the IOS and Android apps.
  • Flexibility to use full Windows apps remotely within a XenApp desktop session or get things done on the fly with the ShareFile mobile apps.
  • External parties can use the solution for free using a client license and can be setup to have access to the same folders as employees.
  • There is now essentially no email size attachment limit (10GB). Sending and receiving files with external parties is extremely easy.

The list of benefits for this company's IT director, CIO and IT staff are just as long:

  • Granular permissions and full auditing for investigating any security incidents which may occur
  • AD integration with user accounts and groups which avoids extra administration time
  • Less support time required for rudimentary issues such sending large attachments via email. This leaves the support team for more time to be proactive, etc.
  • All traffic traversing the Internet and is secured via SSL
  • Ability to remote-wipe or lockout the ShareFile app for any device of any user
  • Maximize ROI of on-premises infrastructure with flexibility of moving to an IaaS or Citrix-hosted SaaS platform in the future.
  • Flexible annual licensing scheme to reduce CapEx requests.
  • Integrates with Office 365 such that documents can be opened within the ShareFile website without needing to download files. This provides the users a more seamless web portal.
  • Strong strategic choice of offering XenApp and ShareFile to employees both from the leader in mobile workspace market, Citrix.

In conclusion, this Chicago-based construction company was wasting a lot of time related to all of the mentioned bottlenecks and workarounds and is now much more effective. Equilibrium believes the cost savings and efficiency of the long-term results will be greater than the cost of the solution's combined licensing, implementation and support costs. Equilibrium has proven this concept time and time again across many companies, industries and families of technology which is a cornerstone of our firm. Wow, I'm excited for this company to realize the benefits of ShareFile for years to come! Have a question for Todd? Email us at .

Author: Todd Bey

Miscellaneous Notes:

For additional information regarding how ShareFile can help each industry, access the related Citrix website here. A nice (and short) YouTube video produced by Citrix about how ShareFile can help the construction industry is also available here. Pricing for the ShareFile Enterprise solution described above is about $110 per user per year. There is also a perpetual licensing model available. The public pricing website including other editions is here. It is very easy to start 30-day a free trial via the main ShareFile page here which can be extended if needed. ShareFile's pre-sales and implementation support was outstanding.

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