Me & my IT: Mike Smith, Grimshaw, Global head of IT
‘We try to have the same IT set up across all our offices’
I was a design engineer for a number of years and then got into cad systems and IT, so I still like the mechanical side of things — the hardware.
I joined Grimshaw’s as an IT analyst nearly 11 years ago and am now in charge of the global IT. We have about 160 staff in London, 70 in New York, about 50 in Melbourne and 30 in Sydney. We use Dell equipment throughout and we try as far as possible to have exactly the same set up across all of the offices, which makes the maintenance much easier.
Our staff are PC-based — everyone uses Windows 7 and Office 2010, Adobe suites and of course the cad software as well. We have a variety of packages including Microstation, Autocad Architecture, Revit and Rhino. The choice between those is really client-led. We have about 100 licences worldwide for Microstation and 70 or 80 for Autocad.
For document sharing and management we use a system called Workspace from Union Square — you buy it off the shelf and develop it as your needs change. We will be rolling it out in New York and both the Australia offices in the next few months.
The challenges remain the same as ever: reliability and data
In the next month or so we’ll also be upgrading our communication server to use Microsoft Lync, which allows desktop sharing as well as video and document sharing so the offices will be able to talk to each other very easily.
The challenges remain the same as they did when I first started — reliability and data. It’s incredible how much data we have to archive, back up, move around and make secure.
We pride ourselves on our architects being able to walk into any of the offices at any time and get down to work, so we have very little downtime and very few breakdowns. Architects say they want nice screens and flashy software, but what they actually want is to be able to work at any time of the night or day.