Gresham, Smith and Partners

Gresham, Smith and Partners consistently ranks among the top architectural, engineering and interior design firms in the United States, with specialized expertise in aviation, healthcare, corporate and urban design, industrial, environmental compliance, transportation and water services (including Logan Airport in Boston). Serving national and international clients from 18 offices, GS&P’s diverse team of more than 850 employees offers customized solutions on a wide variety of innovative projects that respond to the needs of an ever-changing global society.

Maintaining an up-to-date library of drawings, maps, charts, planning documents and photographs of completed projects is critical to the firm’s ability to demonstrate its expertise and credibility, grow its business, and attract new clients. Archived photos, images and documents are used for new project proposals, showcase portfolios of completed projects and marketing and advertising materials, making them important to the firm’s overall success.

Challenges – Need for More Efficient Access to Digital Assets

With more than 16,000 digital assets in the library and growing at about 50 per week, GS&P realized the need to standardize on an enterprise-class digital asset management (DAM) system. Historically, the files were stored on the company network, organized by project numbers using a simple file directory structure. Employees had to manually browse file folders for images and documents. Lacking even the simplest search capabilities, the process was cumbersome and time consuming.

Hoping to improve accessibility to assets, the firm designed a user interface that would allow GS&P employees to search files on the network. While this improved search capabilities to some degree, the process was still inefficient as employees could only search by project numbers. Frustration prevailed, especially for employees under tight timelines to find specific photos and documents for new business proposals.

“Our employees were wasting critical time trying to find the right photos and documents,” said Chip Jordan, Visual Communications Manager in charge of branding, website and collateral development, photography and advertising for GS&P. “If an employee knew the official name of a project, they could call up a set of photos or documents to browse and ultimately find what they’re looking for. If they didn’t, however, they had to hunt and peck, try to find someone who knew the project name and number, or simply give up.”

While improving search capabilities sat high on the priority list for GS&P employees, equally important was the need to integrate the asset library with existing project management software and design tools. GS&P employees use Deltek Vision®, full function software for project-related businesses to track critical organizational functions such as project status, resource allocation, accounting, time and expense capture, and billing. The marketing and visual communications teams use Adobe Creative Suite for the development and management of rich graphics, photos and marketing collateral. The ideal DAM system had to integrate with the firm’s existing applications and infrastructure, be cost effective, and easy to use.

NetX – Powerful Search Capabilities and Integration

After careful consideration of other content and asset management systems including Canto Cumulus, Microsoft SharePoint and software from stock image companies, GS&P selected NetX, a web-based digital asset management solution for managing large libraries of images, documents and rich media files.

Utilizing NetX’s services oriented architecture and Web Services components, GS&P links the asset repository with Deltek Vision and all Adobe design applications, providing employees with transparent connections to assets directly from within their project management software or creative design tools. Built-in metadata capabilities automatically assigns criteria with which each asset is stored, searched and retrieved based on GS&P’s existing project management taxonomy, enabling the firm to get powerful search capabilities up and running quickly and efficiently.

“One of the primary reasons we chose NetX was its open architecture and its ability to connect to virtually any relational database application,“ said Gordon Vaughn, MIS Manager at GS&P. “Another key requirement was the ability to provide integrated security with Windows Active Directory to provide a single sign-on to eliminate the need for employees to remember a separate username and password while maintaining appropriate security levels. NetX is extremely flexible, enabling us to customize the user interface to meet the ever changing needs of the firm while maintaining the standard functionality of the product.

Ultimately, we want our employees spending time doing what they do best, whether it be architecture, engineering and interior design, or page layout for a sales presentation. NetX makes finding the right photo or document fast and easy, freeing up more time to focus on critical tasks.

Chip Jordan, Visual Communications Manager at GS&P

Benefits – Cuts Search Time in Half, Improves Quality of Marketing Materials

With NetX serving as the centralized digital asset hub for GS&P, the firm has realized the following benefits:

  • Saved time and increased productivity – Flexible search capabilities, improved access to files and robust asset management capabilities, including auto-tasking, saved searches and automatic file conversion, significantly reduce the amount of time employees spend looking for assets or repurposing them, enabling them to focus on more critical tasks. GS&P’s marketing team estimates that NetX has cut search time in half.
  • Streamlined workflow and collaboration – Marketing and visual communications teams can share images and files with employees in batches or groups, enabling teams to quickly review, compare and repurpose assets. Seamless integration with GS&P’s firm-wide project management database gives employees direct access to the assets, improving collaboration and workflow. Employees can access low-and high-resolution file types and convert files to almost any file type, improving their ability to share and re-use assets.
  • Improved quality of new project proposals and other marketing materials – Advanced metadata capabilities, powerful search functionality and seamless integration with existing applications enable GS&P employees to find the right asset when they need it, giving them more time to add value to the creation of materials.

Ultimately, we want our employees spending time doing what they do best, whether it be architecture, engineering and interior design, or page layout for a sales presentation” said Chip Jordan. “NetX makes finding the right photo or document fast and easy, freeing up more time to focus on critical tasks.

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