Friday, February 8, 2013

Passing a milestone: Newforma customers are indexing the information of more than 1 million projects

We had been anticipating this milestone for months. As we’ve added customers and as customers have accrued work, the total number of projects being indexed by Newforma servers has been growing by nearly 10,000 a month.Alan Gifford in 1 Million Project t-shirt

Newforma’s Alan Gifford was kind enough to model a collector’s t-shirt to celebrate the milestone. (“Nice work catching my good side!” Alan said.)

What does one million projects mean?

It’s 1.25 billion files.

It’s 250 million emails.

It’s 7.3 million transmittals.

It’s 1.1 million requests for information.

It’s 600,000 submittals.

You might say the achievement is extra large.

All thanks go to our customers, who have made this achievement possible. Good luck to you as you transform the design and construction business from one marked by high risk and humble productivity gains to being truly collaborative, productive and successful in every sense of the word.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

How customers use PIM software to manage internal project information

Nick Dunn is the information and communications director for Scott Brownrigg in London. He uses Newforma project information management software to manage all of the information pertaining to his department’s operations.

Scott Brownrigg-Red Kite House- Wallingford-The Environment Agency“I’ve been able to resolve contractual problems with vendors because I can find the information quickly,” Nick says. “We have 22,000 IT-related emails on file, compiled over the past five years. Newforma’s search capabilities make it easy to find information residing in those emails.”

Nick’s is one department. What’s it look like to manage an entire firm using Newforma software?

Maine’s WBRC Architects/Engineers is using Newforma software to manage internal projects and departments. Here’s a top-of-the-alphabet sampling of the firm’s internal projects:

  • WBRC Accounting
  • WBRC Administration
  • WBRC AIA 2030 Commitment
  • WBRC BIM Management
  • WBRC Board of Directors
  • WBRC Boiler Conversion
  • WBRC Business Development
  • WBRC Charitable Giving
  • WBRC Code Review

The project list goes on like that, through everything from “Library” and “Revit Study” through “Strategic Planning” and beyond.

WBRC-Harborside Hotel-Spa & Marin- Bar Harbor-Maine(One has to wonder if disciplined management like this contributes to WBRC being named the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 Business of the Year!)

Each internal project organizes its team members’ activities. For example, the Newforma Meeting Minutes activity center for the Board of Directors project gathers minutes for meetings of the board of directors and executive committee, as well as one-off phone calls of importance.

The WBRC Facilities and Equipment project includes open Newforma Action Items for “Cold Patch Parking Lot” and “Water Cooler System in Bangor.” Closed items include “Roof Repair / Replacement,” finished late in October of 2012 – just in time for winter!

Account representative Zak Ruck says, “They even returned their renewal agreement via Info Exchange. Out of the 300+ renewals that I’ve worked on at Newforma, this was the first firm to send it back via Info Exchange.”

You have to love those audit trails! Congratulations to Scott Brownrigg, WBRC and all Newforma customers who are using PIM software to manage their companies’ information as well as they manage their clients’ projects.

Friday, December 21, 2012

5 ways to mitigate risk in building and infrastructure projects

How can technology reduce and resolve disputes in design and construction projects? We provide the normal way and a few more:

Buster Keaton in Steamboat Bill1. Cover your rear. It’s not a pretty attitude, but when it comes to risk mitigation, some people still work in this model. Our enterprise software logs transactions automatically and indexes your network for Google-like searches, with the added capability to sort and filter results. And our cloud software maintains a project record that no one can argue with.

2. Prevent conflicts from arising in the first place. As BergerABAM President and Chief Executive Officer Arnie Rusten put it, “Often we can resolve a dispute simply by showing an email that documents our instructions. Newforma Project Center makes it easy, even if that email was generated by someone who’s no longer with the firm.”

3. Make sure everyone is working from current documents. Our software offers a few ways to make sure people are working with up-to-date files. The Newforma Project Cloud collaboration platform is one. Newforma-to-Newforma connectivity is another. Newforma Info Exchange Shared Folders is a third.

4. Work transparently. When everyone knows what everyone else is accountable for, what information they have, and when they got that information, it’s hard to shirk duties or point fingers. The technologies cited above all support transparent workflows.

5. Make more-informed decisions. Our financial and resource planning software enables project managers and senior executives to head off prospective problems by forecasting needs months into the future, instead of just weeks. And our soon-to-be released ability to publish 3D models in the cloud, where they can be viewed and navigated by non-Revit-using team members, will facilitate more-informed decision making, too.


Buster Keaton and the falling door frame

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Which is the better project information host: The enterprise? Or the cloud?

If you were hoping for a definitive answer, please accept our apologies, because the answer is, “It depends.”

PIM in the Cloud white paper summary

The optimal location for your project information depends on your business needs and the information being managed.

For example, because architecture, engineering, construction, and owner organizations maintain so much information on their networks, we offer software to manage all that data.

At the same time, because extended project teams – teams that span multiple companies – gain efficiencies by filing and managing project information in one place, we offer software to host it in the cloud and access it via the web, where everybody has equal access.

Note in the example above, the answer is not “either/or.” It’s “and.” So we’re doing that, too – linking enterprise-hosted information to cloud-hosted information. (If you’re acquainted with Newforma-to-Newforma connectivity, you know how we do it.)

To see the future of project information management, get the whole story from Newforma Chief Executive Officer Ian Howell’s newly revised white paper, “PIM in the Cloud.”

Request your copy here.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

BIM’s place in the project information life cycle

Following last week’s post that BIM is a subset of PIM, United Kingdom Direct Sales Manager Russ Monrose provided this diagram:

Newforma software manages the whole project life cycle

Thanks, Russ!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

BIM is a subset of PIM

The industry’s emphasis on building information modeling might lead us to believe that the model could or should contain all information about a project.BIM is a subset of PIM

In truth, critical data is being created and exchanged for weeks, perhaps months before a model reaches its first draft.

All of the emails, meeting minutes, Office files, sketches, markups and other documentation leading up to the creation of the model are valuable project information that needs to be captured and searchable for later reference.

And that information continues to develop throughout the design and construction phases of the project.

Yes, the model reflects these discussions. But it cannot manage them. Emails, specifications, RFIs and other forms of project information will never be model elements.

When we at Newforma talk about “project information,” we mean all of the technical information that goes into a successful project.

That’s why we have been expanding the reach of our project information management solution to include BIM, financial and resource data, and other forms of information that executives and PMs must manage if they are to please their clients and run successful business.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Rules versus tools

Newforma representative Russ Monrose recently passed along the lament of a UK mechanical/electrical engineer, voicing his frustration over new software:

“We recently deployed a document control solution that’s frustrating me. After five months it’s still bedding in! I admit I’m having trouble changing the way I work.”

Bobby hatRuss said that in some firms he talks to, document management software is the stick that principals hold over the heads of the staff: “Follow the firm’s procedures for filing, recording and cross-referencing information, or we shall implement document management software that forces you to do so!”

A similar sentiment arose in a recent article in the UK’s AEC Magazine.

“Document and project management is traditionally seen as a necessary evil. The software developers’ usual answer is a system that requires data to be stored in a software ‘vault’, which imposes strict policy and regulation to all uses.”

The article’s author, Martyn Day, says people normally do not welcome new tools that enforce strict rules.

“It is relatively common for document management software to be imposed on project partners.” (Emphasis added.)

Carpentry tool montage-portraitWe heard these complaints against document management when we were first talking to architecture, engineering and construction companies about their project information management challenges. That’s why we designed our software to provide tools, not rules.

The idea is that you can go about your normal business, filing drawings where you normally keep them, using email and other files as you usually do, but when it comes time to mark them up, share them, assign them to others and perform all the other tasks you do with project information, you can turn to Newforma software to streamline those actions and automatically log them for an audit trail.

It’s a fundamental difference in philosophy that informs the design of the software.

Read Martyn Day’s AEC Magazine article on Newforma software here.