Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service is the largest Fire and Rescue Service outside London with over 2,500 members of staff and 41 fire stations.
The work of the fire and rescue service is vital to ensuring the safety of Greater Manchester’s residents; and having a reliable email system is critical when it comes to enabling the team to carry out this important work. With all of their staff using email, including around 200 mobile workers, email has become a vital communications tool for the fire service. As Director of Information and Communications Technology, Damian Parkinson explained: “Email is absolutely key and is our most important communications tool. If it is not available our users simply cannot function as normal. It is massively disruptive.”
The importance of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service having a robust email system is not limited to internal communications, but extends to the service’s front-line activities.
For example, the service’s corporate communications team relies on email to communicate with the press and public. The service that the fire station is responsible for delivering means that any issues with station’s email system will have repercussions that extend far beyond internal email users. As Damian emphasised, “A reliable email service is very important in terms of getting information, for instance on cordons and road closures, out to the public. They absolutely rely on email to do this efficiently and it is a very important part of our public service.”
However, before moving to Mimecast, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service’s email system was beginning to creak under a constant flow of spam emails. Damian knew that he would have to seek a new solution, as he explained: “The level of spam email flooding our system was getting out of hand. I’d spend 20 minutes every day cleaning around 200 spam emails out of my own Inbox. Scale that up over 2,500 users and you can see the size of the issue.”
The productivity of Damian and his users was hindered by a relentless influx of spam. The IT service desk teams were responsible for dealing with upwards of 40,000 spam emails per month, and this was no easy task: “Managing the filters was a big job. If we made them too strong, we’d get lots of false positives, and if we made them too weak, a lot of spam would get through. Both scenarios negatively affected user satisfaction.”
These issues, coupled with a change in the terms of service imposed by Webroot, the service’s incumbent email management supplier, led Damian to seek out an alternative solution that would solve the fire station’s spam problem.
Acting on advice from their IT solutions partner, Damian identified Mimecast Email Security as a potential solution and arranged to evaluate the cloud-based service.
After learning more about what Mimecast had to offer, Damian and his team were really impressed: “The solution absolutely lived up to its promises, but also did a great deal more. For instance, the Data Leak Prevention tools are really excellent, not least the wide range of pre-configured options. In many cases, for instance, to prevent people sending out credit card details, we could simple check a box to turn on a pre-configured rule. It is a very impressive solution that fitted with our needs.”
Selecting Mimecast Email Security was a simple choice for Damian and his team, and their seamless experience of the migration process confirmed that they had made the right decision. “My team unanimously agreed that this was one of the best migrations they had ever been through,” added Damian, “they absolutely couldn’t fault it.” The Mimecast team were invaluable in guiding the fire and rescue service through this seven-step migration process, ensuring that the transition was delivered flawlessly. As Damian commented, “Nobody even noticed it had happened, there was no disruption at all, which tells you everything you need to know about how efficient it was.”
The move to Mimecast Email Security has solved Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service spam issues, but beyond this, it has also been invaluable in enabling Damian and his team to deliver a better, more reliable service to users.
Furthermore, Damian now knows Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service’s vital email system is protected by market leading anti-virus technology that can be relied on: “Mimecast anti-virus is very robust too. Feedback from the technical team is that on-premise system alerts have been all but eliminated, the system filters are excellent and there has not been a single issue with the Mimecast solution.”
Overall, Damian is delighted with the impact Mimecast Email Security has had on user satisfaction and on his team’s ability to focus on other important tasks: “With Mimecast we are saving 500 person hours per year just on system maintenance and managing spam filters. That is time the team can spend on higher value activities, like our mobility strategy impressive. During downtime, staff retain email access without having to do anything.”
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