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Panzura customers leveraged global file system technology to continue to blaze a trail up the prestigious ENR Top 500 Design Firms list in 2020.

During one of the toughest years the collective architecture, engineering and construction industry has ever experienced, a number of firms using Panzura’s award-winning global file system made substantial improvements on their ranking.

Engineering giant Fluor reclaimed their spot as the third largest design firm in the USA, and the 7th largest international design firm, having not filed results in 2019.

In two of the largest jumps within the top 200 design firms, CONSOR Engineers improved 56 places to enter the ENR100 at number 69 in their first year with Panzura, while Affiliated Engineers jumped an extraordinary 67 spots to 122.

Architecture, engineering and planning firm Mead & Hunt advanced 14 places to 97, also entering the ENR100 for the first time.

Fast growing multi-disciplined engineering, planning, architectural, and environmental services firm Garver continued its rapid rise through the ENR ranks, now sitting just outside the top 100 at 106.

Of the 87 design firms within the top 200 that improved their position, 23 were Panzura customers. Panzura customers also accounted for two of the three largest jumps on the most recent list.

So, What’s Behind Their Success?

As multifaceted as the reasons behind individual firms’ success can be, there are two common threads:

  1. Top quality people
  2. The technology that empowers them to do their best work

This in turn creates a high performance environment that attracts more top performers. Why? Top performers want to excel, and to do that, they need a place where they can do their best.

Let’s dig into that, because there are some very specific characteristics for a high performance environment within AEC firms that may not be immediately obvious.

Every firm has their own culture, and ways of creating an environment that people love to work in. The values and culture within the firm will guide the hires they make, and the people they attract.

Far less obvious is the role that technology plays in allowing those people to perform at their best.

You only do one thing as an engineering firm. You create data. You create drawings and spec books.

Don't you want that to be on the best solution out there?

- Eric Quinn - CTO, C&S Companies

What Does High Performance Look Like?

In industries driven by deadlines and governed by billable hours, quality output and timely delivery are always front and center.

The challenge is that creativity takes time, and needs space. That creates endless tension between allowing the opportunity for creative leaps and meeting deadlines.

One of the secrets of high performing firms is using technology to marry those two demands, by empowering the best people, with the right expertise, to collaborate on projects when they need to.

That not only gives faster outcomes, by allowing resource to be allocated as needed, it empowers the performance boost that comes from harnessing collective creativity, knowledge, and brain power.

That’s especially challenging when working with applications that are commonplace within architecture, engineering and construction firms: Revit, AutoCAD, Solidworks, Microstation, ArcGIS and others.

The files generated by these complex applications have multiple dependencies, and every one of those dependencies takes a moment to open. For people working right next to each other, Revit just works. For people in different offices, files take forever to open, unless you’re working off local copies.

File locking can’t work, because communication between offices is so slow. So, files get opened and edited when they shouldn’t have been, because someone else was already working on them.

Great work gets lost, or overwritten. Great people’s blood pressure rises as they spend what seems like forever waiting for files to open, or for file changes made somewhere else to show up.

When CFOs add up the number of hours lost waiting for technology to respond, and multiply it by the cost of the people who couldn’t use their skills to move the company forward, they start asking questions.

Within a high performance environment, they already have the answers. A high performance environment provides file operations that treat everyone like they’re working in the same office, sitting right next to each other.

  • Files open immediately, even if they’re immensely complex, and stored in the cloud.
  • File locking, and byte-range locking just works, so nobody ever overwrites anybody else’s work, even if multiple people are working on the same Revit project.
  • File edits that are saved in one location are instantly visible to anyone else who needs to see them, even if they’re thousands of miles away.

In a high performance environment, people can work together collaboratively on complex projects, without having to think about how to get around technology constraints.

Every part of their technology supports what they need to do, instead of getting in the way, and slowing them down.

In a high performance environment, global file system technology works just like local file system technology.

Nobody has to learn anything new, nobody has to wait for file responses, and no poor sap in the IT department needs to try to merge files together after users have created multiple versions, because their technology gives them no other choice.

"We've been able to get our deliverables to our clients quicker, using less man hours. If that's not a statement for ROI, I don't know what is."

- Clay Pilkilton, Director IT Security & Infrastructure @ M&S Engineering

It Either Happens Immediately, Or It Slows You Down

While Panzura’s global file system CloudFS features in the high performing firms we’ve discussed here, it’s not the only global file system around.

It’s not even the only way to share files, so people can work on them together. After all, there’s email, DropBox, or even BIM360 for collaboration specifically on Revit files.

But, speed, efficiency, and reliability matter in a measurable way. When your people are on the clock, time spent waiting is time that can’t be spent on productive activity.

Worse, time spent waiting kills momentum. The effect of every lost minute is magnified, until productivity is seriously impacted.

Real time file technology matters at the most fundamental level. Anything slower means your teams can’t work to their full potential.

It’s the Difference Between Good, and Great

Panzura empowers real time file operations. It’s the only global file system that does.

It’s the only global file system that lets firms maximize their productivity. To truly harness the collective brainpower and talent of their workforce, wherever their people are, no matter how many offices they have.

For firms wanting to do more, grow faster, take on more ambitious projects, and improve their ranking, allowing people to work collaboratively, in real time, is critical.

Giving them the technology that allows them to do that in real time is crucial.

"2020 was the best year in our company's 120-year history. Everything's pointing up for us. When COVID hit, we went from 38 offices to over 900 offices in two days and we didn't skip a beat. Our productivity during COVID actually went up."

- Andy Knauf, CIO - Mead & Hunt