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Award-winning architecture firm Stefan Antoni Olmesdahl Truen Architects (SAOTA) is a dynamic practice whose distinctive work is instantly recognisable. It’s also considered one of the most interesting of South Africa’s new generation of architects, with a high profile at the cutting edge of architecture in this country.
SAOTA has been engaged in projects of a residential, commercial, institutional and industrial nature, as well as a host of corporate interior refurbishments and retail design commissions.
“Contracts, drawings, quotes, redrafts and the many documented discussions between clients, builders, project managers and the like are almost always sent or received via email,” says Grant Hall, IT manager at SAOTA. “If gorgeous contemporary buildings are at the heart of SAOTA, then email sits at the head.”
SAOTA takes documentation very seriously. It has an extremely well-developed filing system for both hard-copy and digital documents.
“The only possible problem in our system is human error,” says Hall. To protect both the company and its clients from the frustration and time-loss associated with misfiled documentation, SAOTA searched for a technology solution to the human problem.
“We wanted to create a safety net to offer final and absolute protection against lost documents. Mimecast’s email software wraps around our Microsoft Exchange mail server and makes sure that our email is always available, easily searchable and never lost. The ease with which email can be retrieved has massively reduced the stress of lost documentation, as well as making sure that we aren’t spending endless hours trawling through quarantined folders and deleted items caches,” says Hall.
Mimecast UEM is a ‘Software as a Service’ (SaaS) implementation, where email is transparently routed through Mimecast’s carrier-grade data centres and stored in a secure repository that provides remote access to mails via the internet, a mobile device or an Outlook plug-in. Users can search the archives going back months or years in a fraction of a second.
In addition, Mimecast is ECT Act-compliant, meaning that all mails can be retrieved with full auditable forensic detail intact.
“Our initial requirements were around the storage of emails. Mimecast offers bottomless storage for up to 10 years, but when we looked deeper into the product we realised that there was a lot more on offer,” says Hall.
“We have more control over our email system in terms of legal compliance and documentation, as well as generally just keeping the email system from becoming an inefficient bandwidth-guzzling monster,” he explains. “We have implemented a selection of customised email rules, which reduce the number and size of non-work-related emails entering the system. No more 10mb PowerPoint documents of cute cats chewing up our bandwidth!”
SAOTA is ahead of the curve in implementing Mimecast. While other industries (including finance, technology and legal) have been quick to understand the enormous value of a fully compliant email solution, the architecture and design industries in South Africa have, until now, stuck to what they know.
“This system helps me sleep better at night. It provides a level of technological support that is unexpected in an email service,” Hall concludes.
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