Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Reprographers aren't the only ones offering document management software and services to A/E firms

Just a couple of comments about a very interesting article I found on www.aecbytes.com

(1) For years, reprographers have been talking about, and, today, most reprographers offer some level of, Internet-based document management services. Take for instance solutions offered by ARC (PlanWell) and ReproMAX (DFS/PDM) and there are quite a number of others.

(2) And, most in the reprographics community well-know that our industry is not the only industry that pursues selling document management services to firms in the A/E/C Industry. You don’t have to be in the reprographics business to offer document management services; software companies develop products that are sold to A/E/C firms or offered to those firms as “software-as-a-service.”

About 18 months ago, I had the opportunity to develop and submit a proposal to provide document management, printing and distribution services to one of the U.S.’s largest Architecture firms for a very large “sports venue” project.

We had already been “short-listed” as the recommended reprographer (our Secret Weapon, Martha, had already positioned that outcome), and, now, we were meeting for the first time with the Senior guy (head of Operations for the Architecture firm) to talk about the content of our proposal. I asked if the A/E/C team would like us to offer document management services as a part of our service offering for the project. And, the response, one I was not expecting, was “nope, we don’t need that.” He went on to say, “we use Newforma” for document management. Newforma, among other things, allows us to keep our drawings and specifications organized and up-to-date. Each time we are ready to print for distribution (phases or finals), we will post the documents on our site and tell you where to go to retrieve them; you will then pull them off of our site, make sure everything is in proper order, then print and distribute. Do not save the jobs in your system, because the drawings and specs will be constantly updated. Every time we are ready for you to print, we will release the most current set(s) to you.”

As soon as I left that meeting, I contacted our CTO and asked him what he knew about Newforma. He said, “well, nothing, but I will quickly look into it to find out what it is so we can talk about it in the proposal you are writing – and not look stupid.”

Newforma is only one of the software products out there that A/E firms are using and talking about.

Okay, back to the interesting article I found on www.aecbytes.com …..

Here’s just the introductory paragraph of that article:

Collaboration, Project Management, and Project Information Management Solutions in A/E/C (Feb 19, 2009)
There can be little doubt that, by now, BIM has become firmly established as a critical technology in the AEC industry. However, BIM deployment by itself is not sufficient to successfully execute and complete building projects while meeting the demands for efficient processes, fast-track design and construction, minimizing waste and construction errors, sustainable design, higher quality buildings, less budget over-runs, and so many others. In particular, with the growing push for IPD (integrated project delivery), BIM cannot deliver on it alone, and it needs to be supplemented with tools for better collaboration, project management, and project information management. This article provides an overview of some of the established and upcoming solutions that belong in this category of applications, as listed in AECbytes VendorHub. They include the server-based Newforma Project Center, the web-based Attolist, and the SharePoint-based Organice.

Here’s the web address of the “complete” article:

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