Friday, December 23, 2011

Season's Greetings from Newforma

As 2011 draws to a close, we’d like to pause a moment to thank all of our customers, partners and friends for the part they played in making the year memorable. One of our great satisfactions is in the relationships we form with people in the course of business.

As is our custom, in lieu of mailing greeting cards, we're donating to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, an organization that gives hope, strength and joy to children with life-threatening medical conditions.

To understand why we've chosen this organization, you might enjoy reading the stories of some Make-A-Wish children and youths at

Our wish for everyone is a happy, healthy and prosperous 2012!

— The Newforma Team

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Newforma Customer Receives Top Honor

Newforma congratulates Steve McDowell, FAIA for being named AIA Kansas City Architect of the Year. Steve has led Berkebile Nelson Immenschuh McDowell (BNIM) Architects with a spirit of generosity that is embodied in the firm's work and commitment to designing beautiful, healthy and sustainable buildings and communities for our clients.

McDowell, who is the “M” is BNIM, is the Director of Design, and viewed as an innovator and explorer, using his workplace as a laboratory for exploring ideas related to site, environment and technical investigation. He believes in a lively exchange of thoughts to stimulate exploration and sustain innovation.

He maintains that good design is about people,
their health, productivity and lifting the human spirit
through design.

His work is setting new standards in high performance design, including two Living Building projects: The Omega Center for Sustainable Living in Rhinebeck, NY; and the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA.

Under his leadership, BNIM was named number 3 on Design Intelligence’s list of the Top 5 U.S. Firms that are role models for green and sustainable design.

Huge congrats to Steve McDowell from Newforma!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Newforma to Exhibit at IPD eConference

Visit Newforma's booth at the IPD eConference, all from the comfort of your office, home or local Starbucks! The Integrated Project Delivery e-conference takes place Tuesday, December 13, 2011 from 11 to 3:30 ET.

Registration is free and although you won't be able to load up on stress balls, water bottles and other cool show giveaways, come visit the Newforma booth to learn more about how our project information management solutions work with IPD.

Chat live with Susan McDowell, our Director of Construction Solutions.

Plan to attend our webcast from 2:00-2:30 pm ET on 'PIMs role in IPD' presented by Jim Forester, Newforma founder and senior technical advisor.

We hope to 'see' you on December 13th. And just think, you won't have sore feet from walking miles on a show's all virtual!

Heck, you can wear your slippers if you want! Register now for the IPD e-conf and the Newforma webcast.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Newforma User Conference - Nugget 2012
in ‘City of Cowboys & Culture’

Dust off your cowboy boots and don your ten gallon hat, we’re headed to Fort Worth Texas USA for Newforma’s 2nd Annual User Conference and we can’t wait! Registration is now open for Nugget 2012 taking place September 17-19, 2012 in Fort Worth Texas, a city known for its western heritage and unrivaled entertainment and hospitality.

This is your opportunity to spend 2 ½ days gaining tips, training, and valuable networking with other Newforma users and Newforma team members.

Take advantage of Early Bird Registration ($995) by March 31, 2012 and you’ll save $300! Another great way to participate and save is to become a speaker. Contact us for a speaker application at

We guarantee you will come away from Nugget 2012 more knowledgeable and efficient with Newforma software.

But don’t take our word for it, last year’s event earned rave reviews and accolades from Newforma customers from across the globe. Here’s what a few attendees had to say…

“Very impressive. Very timely. Very much in keeping with the spirit of Newforma and well presented.”

“It was good to see other people using Newforma similar to how we at ESD use it for submittals and RFIs.”

“I am very pleased with this conference and the Newforma staff. A very positive experience and I hope to attend future conferences.”

“Great ‘one on one feel’ to presentations and discussions. We appreciate you listening to our comments & suggestions.”

Here at Newforma our customers are our number one priority. We want nothing more than for you to be successful with our software. So, you can be sure we’ll make Nugget 2012 an incredibly enriching and worthwhile experience. You have our word.

For more information and to register visit

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Newforma cures the flat files blues

While we find today's comic from Architexts extremely funny, it might hit a little too close to home for many non-Newforma customers. 

You see, with the comprehensive search capabilities of Newforma Project Center, we eliminate the problem of finding project information by full-text indexing of all project files, including emails and their attachments, to make finding a specific document, or the mention of any term in all documents, a split-second search. 

We really can make it that easy.  I think one of our customers summed it up nicely in this quote:

“Newforma Search is a really powerful timesaver, and the brilliant part about it is that we were able to take advantage of Search without any change to our project files and without any disruption of our ongoing project work.” 
- Adrian Doheny, Project Manager, Hart Howerton

While some firms may cringe at reading this comic, our customers like Kurt Johnson at HGA, can sit back and have a hearty chuckle. 

By the way, if you're interested in learning more, you can watch the webinar we did with Kurt by clicking on the following link:

"Rising from the dead files: managing archived projects"

Monday, November 14, 2011

Don’t take our word for it

Man and stack of paperAt Newforma, we’ve said for years that good search trumps good filing. Now a team of IBM and Microsoft researchers have validated our position with delightfully geeky data.

In a recent Lifehacker post, “Email Folders Might Actually Decrease Productivity; Just Search for Old Messages Instead,” Whitson Gordon summarizes the findings elegantly:

The problem, IBM says, is that people are relying too much on their inbox to show them their to-do list. In the end, though, finding those emails by digging through folders took 58 seconds, on average, while merely searching for them took 17 seconds.

The advantage of searching for information instead of browsing for it goes way beyond saving 41 seconds. As the report says, searching can make the difference between success and failure:

Did a reliance on folder-access predict success, or was search a stronger predictor? We found that people who relied on search were more likely to have successful finding sequences (r(356)=0.15, p<0.005). None of the other behaviors [folder access, sorting, and scrolling] correlated with success.

We would go a step further and say that not only is search a superior finding strategy for your own email, but it’s your only hope when looking for email or other project information filed (or misfiled) by team members.

As Newforma’s Bob Batcheler put it:

It doesn’t even begin to address the cost of trying to find stuff by relying on a filing system when someone has MISFILED the item you are looking for!

Read the research, “Am I wasting my time organizing email? A study of email refinding,” at the website of the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Newforma - Uniquely serving the AECO Market

We recently launched Newforma Punch List, and I am reflecting on the road we traveled from the first Punch List discussions. Some themes keep popping into my mind:
  1. Newforma is in a unique position. We are the only company I know of with customers across all aspects of project design and delivery.
  2. Punching (or “snagging” in the UK) is a tedious process.
  3. For construction companies, time really is money.
  4. Project complexity is on the rise. At the same time owners expect their project faster without sacrificing quality.
  5. Our customers want to do business with fewer technology companies.
Architects, engineers, contractors, design-builders, subcontractors, and owners across the globe use Newforma solutions to win, manage, and deliver projects. We have a unique insight on project delivery across all of these roles. While most solutions will claim they work for everyone, the reality is they either focus on Design, Construction, or Operating.

At the very beginning of our quest to capture information at the jobsite, we spoke with folks in every role to get their perspectives. We quickly realized that Punch List is the top issue folks wanted solved. Everyone agreed the process was tedious, error prone, and (although critical) not something they looked forward to doing.

I heard that we needed to make our solution incredibility simple. One of my goals was that tablet training should take less than 20 minutes—a goal I am proud that we achieved!

Any amount of time that construction companies can squeeze from the project schedule reduces the possibility of late delivery penalties. With IPD contracts on the rise, the goal is not just avoiding penalties, but tapping into bonus pools for additional profit. An integrated solution like Newforma Project Center that streamlines all project processes (including punch list) is a key tool towards optimizing the project schedule. Electronic submittals are another example where our products can save both time (cutting down review cycles) as well as money (eliminating shipping costs).

With projects increasing in complexity while also tightening timeframes, it’s clear that teams must rely on technology to stay in control. Punch List is just one of many processes that involve every company across the project. During the final intense phase of a project, it’s critical to have the punch list effectively coordinated since it’s the last hurdle crossed on the way to project closeout…and final payment.

Every time I participate in a customer or prospect meeting, I repeatedly hear about “technology overload.” There are too many solution providers offering bits and pieces of project information management.

Our customers demand that Newforma help reduce this complexity. Punch List, along with other field management tasks, is simply additional project information. So customers ask and expect Newforma to provide solutions to capture this information. After all—we are the Project Information Management solution for the AECO market.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A flurry of comments about missing PIM

At the time of this writing, New England is recovering from an October snowstorm (dubbed “Snowtober”) that knocked out electrical power for millions. When these things happen, we come to appreciate afresh how much we value having lights, heat, hot water and internet connectivity. A similar phenomenon, albeit on a much smaller scale, has been happening in the comments we’ve been receiving from our website. In the the past several month there have been an increasing number of inquiries for more information about products that have included remarks from ex-users who would like to have access Newforma at their new employer and be a part of the Newforma user community again.

Here is a sampling of some of those comments:

“I have used Newforma in my previous office. I would like to introduce it to my new company.”

“The previous company I worked for uses Newforma and I thought it was an amazing tool.”

“I used Newforma with my previous employer and think that it would be helpful here.”

“My previous firm implemented NewForma. [At my new firm] I was asked to suggest a document management system [such as] Primavera Contract Manager. After hearing more of their wants and needs - I knew Newforma was the answer.”

And my favorite: “I used Newforma at a previous firm and miss it terribly...”

One of the key metrics that we track in our subscription-based business model is the number of customers who renew their subscriptions year over year. I am proud to share that number; it is 99%. However, it is even more gratifying to hear someone say, “I wish I had Newforma software again!”

Naturally, we’re happy to do all that we can to make sure that everyone gets to use our software. Smile

Monday, October 24, 2011

DBIA, Newforma and confessions of a tradeshow junkie

I admit it. In years past, I have been a candy-scarfing, koozie-snagging conference attendee who zipped through the aisles of tradeshows on my way to redeem my drink coupon. But now I’ve experienced the other side of the booth, and I have a changed perspective.

Dustin Anderson, Dan Conery and I attended the Design Build Institute of America (DBIA) annual expo in Orlando last week. This was my very first tradeshow as an exhibitor, and I sure learned a lot!

For instance, tradeshows have an interesting behind-the-scenes economy. Who would have thought that you rent the square of carpet that marks your booth? And I’m so glad I brought my most comfortable shoes. Not because I was standing a lot at the show, but because it surely was 2 miles from my hotel room to the exhibit space on the opposite side of that enormous complex.

I also learned that Newforma has developed great name recognition over the past 5 years. It seemed every person I met had used Newforma in some capacity—either directly as our customer, or as a team member receiving Info Exchange transfers.

I was glad that we had plenty of time to talk with our visitors at the show. We had the laptop queued up so that we could give a quick overview—or an in-depth product demonstration—to people who were new to Newforma. Current customers stopped by too, and we could show them the newest features and get feedback on their priorities.

The next time that I’m an attendee at a tradeshow and you are an exhibitor, I promise that I will stop by your booth. I’ve learned that meeting each other in-person is the most valuable part of a conference, so I’ll be sure to visit with you for at least 10 minutes…on my way to redeem my drink coupon!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Making Dollars and Sense – Newforma’s New VP of Finance

We’re excited to welcome Joe Santiago, our new VP of Finance, to the Newforma team. Joe brings topnotch expertise and a proven track record with venture-back high growth organizations. Joe is skilled in the areas of financing, reporting, revenue recognition, mergers and acquisitions, strategic planning and international operations having managed the finances at a variety of companies including Cedar Point Communications, Telcordia, and Granite Systems. Joe's experience traveling and living abroad in Singapore complements his understanding of doing business globally. Joe also worked at Ernst & Young and is an accounting graduate of Bentley University. Newforma is growing and with Joe at the finance helm the sky’s the limit.

Speaking of growing, you too can become a member of the Newforma team! We have several openings right now including a Customer Support Specialist in the UK, a Product Designer and Software Engineers. Check out “Careers at Newforma” for more information.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Newforma named Innovation Rocks! Award Winner for October

All of us at Newforma are excited to be recognized as the October “Innovation Rocks!” award winner! Innovation Rocks! is an initiative sponsored by the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development in coordination with Rock 101 (WGIR-FM) to celebrate the creativity and ingenuity of New Hampshire innovators.

I thought the comments were pretty much spot-on when it came to describe why Newforma was chosen:

“Newforma shows how a relatively young New Hampshire company can have significant market impact,” said New Hampshire Division of Economic Development Interim Director Chris Way. “It’s only been a little over six years since the First Edition of their Project Center software was put out in limited release, and now Newforma’s software is being used by 49,000 licensed users in 620 companies across 10 countries to manage 650,000 projects. That’s innovation that works.”

This award means a great deal to us. Even though Newforma products are being used by industry leading Architecture, Engineering, and Construction firms on projects all around the world, it is especially rewarding to be recognized in your home state as a leader in innovation.

I also personally like the connection with both the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development and Rock 101. I grew up in New Hampshire, and I’ve seen firsthand all the great things that NHDED have done for the state, and of course, Rock 101 was my go-to station for the best Rock and Roll!

We really appreciate the award and are very proud of the recognition. However, as is the Newforma way, we won’t rest on our laurels. To quote classic rockers Bachmann Turner Overdrive, “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet!”

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Newforma Punch List tablet app: why we started with Android; where we go from here

We built the first version of our mobile punch list app for Android® tablets instead of the popular Apple product, the iPad® mobile digital device (as is its legal name).

Why start with Android? Newforma Vice President of Customer Satisfaction and Construction Solutions Dan Conery answers that question and others in a quick conversation.

Q: So, why release on the Android platform first?

Dan: We knew an application for disconnected information capture at the jobsite would require apps for both the Android and iPad platforms. Since this is our first solution on the 10.1 inch form factor, we wanted to make sure we nailed it before we scaled it. So we had to select one to start. Two reasons drove the decision:

  1. We have many customers who either have standardized on the Android or who had not made a decision on which tablet platform to roll out within their organization.
  2. The 8 megapixel camera on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 allows for more detailed images than the iPad camera, which is less than 1 megapixel.

Q: So, you plan on support both iPad and Android?

Dan: Of course, one cannot be serious about supporting our industry and not support both of these platforms.

Q: Why would the camera resolution matter?

NewformaPunchlist_FINAL_122Dan: After talking with several of our existing customers, pictures came up over and over again as a critical component of a Punch List solution. You know the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”? One senior executive with extensive field experience told us that he wanted to be able to read the label on an electrical outlet on a picture of an entire wall. This expectation means camera resolution is important.

Q: Will Punch List work on a phone?

Dan: Our first release will not scale down to the phone. It quickly became clear that access to the floor plans and detail drawings was an important part of the punch process. Trying to review a floor plan on a phone is not a good experience. The 10 inch tablets are a perfect combination of mobility and screen resolution.

Q: Will you be releasing phone applications in the future?

Dan: We will evaluate all form factors: phone, tablet, laptop, and desktop, as we continue to develop field solutions.

Q: So, when will the iPad version of the Newforma Punch List app come out?

Dan: Although it is too early to provide a specific release date, I can tell you we are already in the development process with our iPad solution.

Q: What has the reaction been so far in our early testing of Newforma Punch List?

HOK punch list field trip 14Dan: Better than I could have imagined. In field tests with one of our early customers, their informal comment was that they were moving through a building with our Android tablet app twice as fast as they were using their current electronic punch list process.

Q: How do you compare yourself to other Punch List solutions on the market?

Dan: We went for simplicity. As with all of our solutions, folks like to use them because they are quick to learn. It takes less than 30 minutes to get up and running, and that includes the time to learn how to use the tablet.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Watch Your Language, or DAM It

Let’s wrap up our serialization of Doris Pulsifer’s article, “Watch Your Language: Five Information Management Terms I’d Like to Replace.” Doris has shown why terms such as “archive” and “document type” do a disservice to the ideas those terms represent.

Today we will pick on “document management,” a term that made sense in the dusty past of the 1990s, but is out of date today.

Term No. 5: “document management” is really “digital asset management”

Paper-based definition: “Document management” was really about keeping track of all project documentation (e.g. drawings and specifications) through basic workflow management. Documents were worked on sequentially. People took turns revising drafts of letters and issuing updated copies of plans.

Digital 1.0 definition: Workflow engines captured the rules set to govern the linear sequencing for handling paper-based documents. However, because businesses must constantly adapt to changes in staff, priorities and external forces such as economic conditions, rules often become obsolete as quickly as they’re formulated.

Digital 2.0 definition: Databases allow information to flow between people and departments as needed, without the restrictions of a strict sequence. The term digital asset management, which until now has been relegated to the management of images and video files only, actually deserves a much larger definition. This macro definition of digital asset management encompasses all of the knowledge captured in the firm’s global repository. Use of this knowledge evolves as the business evolves.

Note that experts in digital asset management – DAM – treat it as a broad-based term applicable to all digital files, not just to pictures and videos. This perspective is not surprising, given that all people understand the importance of their work more than the world usually does.

Similarly, Doris asks us to recognize that common terms corral our thinking along common lines, and that uncommon success demands that we think in broader terms.

Doris Pulsifer, the leader of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill’s knowledge management team, published “Watch Your Language” at the website of the American Institute of Architects.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Navigating Fragmented (yet Connected) Knowledge

Collaboration is essential for society to move forward. So says Matt Ridley in a Wall Street Journal article From Phoenicia to Hayek to the ‘Cloud’ this past weekend (

Here’s a little piece of what he had to say:

“Human technological advancement depends not on individual intelligence but on collective idea sharing, and it has done so for tens of thousands of years. Human progress waxes and wanes according to how much people connect and exchange.”

Whenever merchant ships plied the Mediterranean Sea in past eras, the entire region prospered. But when trade was disrupted due to marauding pirates or the Dark Ages, social progress faltered and often even moved in reverse. The self-isolation of China and North Korea contributed in no small part to their people missing out on revolutionary developments that swept the rest of the world.

Sure, this is an oversimplification. Bubonic plague and brutal political regimes certainly play key roles in these historic shifts. But haven’t you experienced this idea firsthand when a workgroup comes up with an idea that none of you could have dreamed of alone? The organic interaction of teamwork and the contribution of each person’s knowledge create something larger, something inherently more valuable than any solitary effort.

I am reminded of efforts to trap “corporate knowledge” inside Lessons Learned databases, or to lock up project information in tightly-controlled ERP systems. In this article, Ridley refers to economist Friedrich Hayek’s theories when he says that central control of knowledge is futile because true value is found in “a distributed and fragmented system of localized but connected knowledge.”

This is an apt description of Newforma Project Center. NPC is an unobtrusive tool that helps teams find the knowledge that already lives within the interactions between team members: email conversations, design evolution contained in updated drawings, decisions recorded in meeting minutes. The information may be dispersed around the network in various formats, but NPC can find it and show the context that gives it value. Newforma Project Network takes this discovery a step further by facilitating the connections between the companies that form the full project team.

Cumbersome, structured document management systems are destined to drain the life out of project teams. We need to let our project information breathe and give our teams space to interact and connect.

Then we can trust Newforma to be the tool that explores "the space between." Between our companies, between our people, between our brains--this is where the magic takes place!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bar bets and knowledge management

In 2009, Google surmised that smartphone users were whipping out their iPhones to settle bets over such diverse topics as which body part is most amputated, who starred in what movie and how many ounces are in a half pint. They dubbed this search trend the Bar Bet Phenomenon.

This trend bodes well for the future of AEC knowledge management. Seriously.

Think of it: For knowledge to be propagated in an architecture, engineering or construction firm, people need to be in the habit of searching for information they do not already possess.

Imagine you are working on a stairwell for a school in Poughkeepsie. Imagine you need to know the fire code or lighting specifications or structural steel load capacity. If someone in your company has already documented the answer to your question, you can cut your workload by opening that intelligent file and reaping the harvest of its knowledge.

This is the sort of thing Doris Pulsifer thinks about in her role as leader of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill’s knowledge management team. I’ve been revisiting her article, “Watch Your Language: Five Information Management Terms I’d Like to Replace,” and this week’s installment addresses the topic of bar be—I mean, knowledge management.

Term No. 4: “central filing system” is really a “global repository”

Paper-based definition: The central file was the place office librarians created to store anything and everything that came their way. Once filed, information was unlikely to ever again see the light of day, because so few people knew where the information existed, and it was hard to retrieve if you were anyone other than the librarian!

Digital 1.0 definition: To replace the central filing room, document management systems create digital vaults – highly structured electronic filing repositories – to store corporate information and control access. Users were required to follow strict filing hierarchies to allow information to be retrieved when needed. The firm’s knowledge was safely locked away!

Digital 2.0 definition: Good search trumps good filing. When you have flexible tagging and index-based search capabilities, anyone in the office can – and will – benefit from the collective knowledge of your organization by searching a global repository for whatever information they happen to need at the moment, just as they might ask a colleague, “What do you know about this challenge I’m facing?” Importantly, information is no longer restricted to those who already had knowledge of it. Instead, it benefits everyone in the organization and can be re-used to help advance the business.

The key to recycling knowledge in a firm, then, is good search capabilities – and the habit of using them to seek not just what you’ve forgotten, but what you never knew! Doing so could help you win more than bets.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Expanding our reach to the Middle East

Rob Kirk joins the Newforma roster as business development manager for the Middle East and knows firsthand the blood, sweat and tears of being a former practicing architect and project manager.

Rob’s worked on his share of notable projects including the Centro Hotels by Rotana brand, the Bahrain City Centre and Index Building (shown below), and the Mall of the Emirates (shown below) but just as important is Rob’s project delivery experience. He’s dealt with the tedious, frustrating and often confrontational aspects of project work and as a result is a huge fan of Newforma (which I’m sure helped him in the hiring process!)

Rob recently commented that “Newforma differs from other systems I’ve used because you get all the benefits of accessibility to project information without having to do much up front. You have all this information at your finger tips so you can make better use of it; you become more knowledgeable about the project, make more informed decisions and produce better designs. And here in the Middle East it’s not unusual to have project teams spread across not only different countries but often different continents. As you can imagine this creates unique challenges making an effective PIM solution even more important.”

Rob is based in the United Arab Emirates and is responsible for the Middle East-North Africa region. It’s not all work and no play though for Rob. He loves spending time with his two children enjoying outdoor activities including sailing, windsurfing, and relaxing at the beach in Dubai (who wouldn’t, it’s gorgeous!) Contact Rob via the Newforma Middle East website at and welcome him aboard!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Adding Humanity Through Connectedness

In the grizzled world of construction, I get used to conversations being extremely pragmatic and matter-of-fact. So one reason that I enjoy Lean Construction Institute’s workshops is that I’m challenged to re-examine how project teams interact. And sometimes these discussions can even strike an emotional chord for me.

Just such an occurrence happened last week at the CURT/LCI Summit in Buffalo when Will Lichtig of The Boldt Company opened the session with an overview of Lean Construction’s main principles. I’ve heard these ideas several times before, so it should have been a simple review for me…a time to slurp down my second cup of coffee before we got to the meat of the day.

Suddenly I heard Will talking about the idea of “Increased Relatedness,” and it actually tugged on my heartstrings! I’m paraphrasing Will, who was quoting someone else:
“In our projects today, so often teams start out as complete strangers...and finish as perfect enemies.”
Is it possible that we could structure our projects differently to deliberately create a less adversarial environment?

We need to build true personal relationships that crisscross the self-imposed boundaries between companies and roles. It’s knowing each other as individuals that enables teams to weather the inevitable storms that will surely brew between the first conceptual estimate and the final punchlist item. That could be as easy (or as difficult) as front-loading the staffing of a project to create time for the team to gel as a unit before the pace gets frenetic.

So to shift back from the metaphysical to the practical, I wonder if a piece of software (like Newforma Project Center) can contribute to Increased Relatedness. Sure, nothing can replace co-located project teams and spending hours face-to-face in the Big Room with stacks of Last Planner sticky notes. But more often teams are coming together from multiple companies, geographies and time zones.

I believe that technology can play a large role in shrinking those distances, creating networks between co-workers, and smoothing the bumps in the road. Then we are able to concentrate more energy on building the authentic relationships that are the secret sauce to any high performing team.

Here at Newforma we'll be keeping Increased Relatedness top-of-mind to drive more humanity back into the most basic of human interactions: teamwork!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Tech 2.0 phenomenon, or chuck that paper and give me electrons

Software predictably takes us through two stages of whatever task we’re trying to accomplish. The first stage replicates tasks we were performing with paper. The second stage allows us to perform tasks that would only be possible with electrons.

Consider software used to design structures. Initially, computer-aided design software replicated drawing as it was being done on paper or mylar. But now it is likely you are using software that permits you to design in three dimensions. Try that with paper!

A similar progression is happening with the software used to manage project information. You might start by using it to file email electronically, rather than print emails and file them in drawers. But before long you’re using it to view product documents and manage action items in the field, using your smartphone. You just could not do those tasks with paper.

SOM’s Doris Pulsifer thinks about these sorts of issues a lot, and wrote about it in an article at, “Watch Your Language: Five Information Management Terms I’d Like to Replace.” She takes the position that our language can prevent us from discovering and utilizing these Tech 2.0 advancements, and proposes some changes to overcome that barrier.

I've been posting excerpts from Doris’ article here at the Newforma Blog. Here's term No. 3: “project folders” are really the “project repository.”

Paper-based definition: A project folder originated as a manila folder that served as a single location in which to aggregate any and all information that pertained to a specific project. Hard-copy duplicates were made when information needed to be used for different purposes or by different people.

Digital 1.0 definition: Digital files are saved in an electronic folder with, not surprisingly, graphic icons that look like manila folders! As with paper-based information, digital files require correct filing for future retrieval. Typically, far too many duplicate copies of those files exist in multiple locations on the company’s computer network.

Digital 2.0 definition: The project repository embraces all project information wherever it resides, whether in drawings, documents, emails or their attachments. Using project information management (PIM) technology, people who need subsets of information from the project repository can assemble collections of project-related files in “virtual” folders. SOM has adopted a PIM solution that supports this concept of virtual folders in the form of document sets.

This expanded thinking is highly utilitarian in an age when project teams and the files they’re manipulating are scattered across time zones. A project repository does not depend on physical colocation.

I’ll post another of Doris’ observations next week. Or see the full article here.

Doris Pulsifer leads the Knowledge Management department at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM).

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Why a “document type” is really an “intelligent file”

More from Doris Pulsifer’s article at the “Practicing Architecture” area of, “Watch Your Language: Five Information Management Terms I’d Like to Replace.” Doris leads the Knowledge Management department at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM), so she’s always thinking about information and the ways people turn it into knowledge.

Term No. 2: “document type” is really an “intelligent file”

Paper-based definition: Documents were all on paper and their “type” was defined by the role they played. Quick notes to share with offices or teams were memoranda. Correspondence with clients and external team members took place via letters. Drawings on large sheets of paper were plans.

Digital 1.0 definition: First-generation digital files mimicked their paper origins, replacing letters with DOC files, memos with e-mails, drawings with DWG files, and so on. These file types were still defined by their purpose and output, because most often they would be printed or plotted.

Digital 2.0 definition: Intelligent files are complex file types which accept embedded file types such as pictures, tables, nested drawings or hyperlinks – even movies! Architects can embed specifications, material types and properties inside a drawing file, engineers can assign values and embed calculations. In order to capitalize on the new possibilities at hand, we need to start thinking of a file as being an “intelligent container” – an intelligent file – rather than a specific document type.

Note the last sentence above: In order to capitalize on the new possibilities at hand, we need to start thinking of a file as being an ‘intelligent container’ – an intelligent file – rather than a specific document type.” Doris is saying that the language we use to describe something influences the way we use it. Do you agree?

Could calling a file a document limit its use to the ways we may use paper? People may not put pictures in a paper document, nor link to information on the web. So we may not think to do so even when that document exists as electrons, and may never be printed on paper.

’ll explore this idea further in coming posts.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Why “archive” really means “business records”

A while back, SOM’s Doris Pulsifer published an article at the “Practicing Architecture” area of that she called “Watch Your Language: Five Information Management Terms I’d Like to Replace.” The ideas she presents are so good we want to revisit them here. Check out the first term Doris would replace:
Term No. 1: “archive” is really “business records”

Paper-based definition: “To archive” information is to sequester it, out of the way, in storage. Paper files were typically shipped in boxes to an off-site location. Retrieval was manual and very time-consuming, hence seldom done.

Digital 1.0 definition: Stored files are recorded on back-up tapes or burned onto digital media, and filed in a cabinet or off-site location. Same process as before, but different (magnetic) media.

Digital 2.0 definition: Business records are kept spinning on storage disks, indexed, searchable and instantly accessible.
Makes sense, right?

Visit the American Institute of Architects website to read all of “Watch Your Language: Five Information Management Terms I’d Like to Replace.”

If you prefer to digest these ideas in a series of bites, we’ll post the other four terms ripe for redefining over the coming days.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

My Grand Experiment (Part 1)

Although I am no Apple fanboy, I did preorder the original iPad, and I have to say I LOVE my iPad. However, beyond media consumption, my iPad has not "broken through" to become an essential part of my day-to-day workflow - until now. This breakthrough came as a result of a thought experiment that I took on during a recent vacation (itself the subject of another upcoming blog post).

The thought experiment was to seek out a few, very specific, high value use cases that the unique features of the iPad might be able to address in my day-to-day work life and to see if I can find my killer app for the iPad among those use cases. I am happy to say that I have found several such use cases, which I will describe in this ongoing series of posts under the title, "My Grand Experiment".

This thought experiment began with the challenge posed by a two-week vacation and "the look" that my wife gave me as I informed her that I was going to carry my laptop on our planned cruise. That look quickly inspired me to consider leaving my laptop at my office and to carry something more portable and less obtrusive. She is so accustomed to seeing me reading on my iPad, I figured why not carry that and see if it can serve my day-to-day requirements?

My conclusion, so far, is that it can, to a remarkable degree, including solving some nagging productivity issues that I have never found a reasonable way to solve with my laptop or my smartphone. This series of posts will share what I have learned so far, in the way of iPad apps, accessories, and workflow tips and techniques that are rapidly transforming my personal workflow and productivity.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Next Stop Hebron, Kentucky – Home of the United States Playing Card Company!

Susan McDowell, Newforma Director of Construction Solutions will attend the Lean Construction Institute Target Value Design event, August 24 in Hebron, Kentucky at the Doubletree Hotel. In fact, Newforma is sponsoring the cocktail reception on August 23 from 6-8 pm, so look Susan up if you plan to attend, she’s buying! There’s also an impressive line-up of presentations including Newforma customer Todd Henderson of Boulder Architects, who will present Boulder’s use of Target Value Design on several projects as well as in other design aspects. Check out a recent article highlighting how Boulder Architects practices lean construction using Microsoft Excel and Newforma Project Center.

Newforma will be attending several upcoming LCI events. We’ll keep you posted on our whereabouts.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Webinars on Wednesday - Introduction to Newforma Project Analyzer

This coming Wednesday, our live webinar will be featuring a hot new product - Newforma Project Analyzer!

Newforma Project Analyzer is our answer to one of the largest challenges faced by design firms across the globe – visibility for Executives and Project Managers into resource utilization and profitability for every project within their firm. Not only can Newforma Project Analyzer provide real time visibility into a projects status but also the ability to calculate extremely important “what if” scenarios for improved decision making.

This is going to be a great webinar and we hope that you can join us!

When: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 from 12:00 - 1:00 PM EDT

Where: Online, simply click here to sign up!

Webinar Topics to be Covered:

PROJECT | FIRM REPORTING: Dynamic, real-time, interactive data that's highly visual

SCHEDULING: Powerful yet simple scheduling in a graphical format

BUDGETING: Integrated solution allowing for "what-if" financial scenarios

STAFFING: Quickly identify project team members & maximize proper mix

TRACKING: Monitor performance from multiple perspectives

See for yourself why this is the hottest new product in the market! Sign up today!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Todd cuts 70 minutes from triathlon personal best!

At last weekend's 2011 Ford Ironman Lake Placid competition, Newforma Co-founder and Director of Sales Todd Kozikowski cut one hour, 10 minutes and 27 seconds from his 2010 time at the same venue.

After swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running 26.2 miles, Todd is resting and tending to Newforma duties.

“The energy from the crowd was unbelievable,” Todd said. “Thousands of people come out to cheer people on. But now it feels great just to relax with my family.”

In addition to achieving a personal best time in the triathlon, Todd raised more than US $2,500 for David’s House, a residential facility for families of pediatric patients at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth.

To see pictures of Todd during the race, including a video of his crossing of the finish line, visit this page.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Quick update: Todd K's Ironman

At a time of day when most of us are putting our feet up or thinking about starting the coals on the grill, Newforma Co-founder Todd Kozikowski is deep into the marathon portion of his triathlon competition at Lake Placid, New York.

You can follow Todd’s progress by entering his name in the “Athlete Tracking” field here. You'll see Todd competed the 2.4-mile swim in one hour and 15 minutes, and the 112-mile bike ride in six hours and seven minutes.

For background, see this blog post, or visit Todd's dedication page at the website of David’s House.

We’ll post pictures (or links to pictures) when the race is done. For now, go Todd!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Man of iron, heart of gold

You may not be aware that Newforma Co-founder and Director of Sales Todd Kozikowski is a triathlete, more commonly (and more descriptively) known as an “Ironman.” That means Todd competes in a race that demands him to swim 2.4 miles, bicycle for 112 miles and run for 26.2 miles.

That’s right. Todd covers 140.6 miles in a day. For fun. He's doing it again this Sunday, July 24.

Todd's motivation this year is not all about fun and games, though. He has dedicated this year’s event to a cause that touched the Kozikowski’s lives recently, as Todd describes here:
Nearly 14 months ago, Laura and I welcomed our baby daughter, Elena, into the world. Elena was born with a few minor complications and spent a brief period of time in the neonatal intensive care unit at Elliot Hospital in New Hampshire. During that time, I felt the world had stopped and the only thing I wanted was for our baby to be healthy. We were fortunate because Elena fully recovered and left the NICU after only a few days. But, I couldn’t stop thinking about the parents and children who spend their days, weeks, months, and even longer in this environment.

Todd discovered a facility that provides housing for families visiting children at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and Children's Hospital at Dartmouth. It's called David's House. In this short reflection, Todd tells why participating in an Ironman competition is easier than enduring what many David's House residents undergo.

This year, Todd invites us to join him — not on the Lake Placid Ironman course this weekend (thank goodness), but in his desire to support David’s House.

Please make a donation here, writing “Todd K” in the “Name of Person to be Acknowledged” field.

And please revisit the Newforma Blog in the coming days as we report more about Todd’s 2011 Ironman competition!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Newforma Project Analyzer - Project planning, resource management and reporting for project managers and A/E firm executives

Yesterday we announced the availability of our newest product, Newforma Project Analyzer. This is an awesome product that provides project planning, resource management and reporting for architectural and engineering project managers and firm executives in a dynamic, interactive, highly visual format. It pulls live project data directly from your financial system to facilitate what-if scenarios and real time decision making concerning project scopes, budgets, and staffing for individual projects, groups of projects or the entire firm.

The idea behind the solution - Our solution was born out of the real life challenges that our customers face every single day. Customers having to work with multiple spreadsheets dispersed around the firm makes it difficult to assemble the necessary information at an executive level to make adequate decisions. In addition, the firm is left with varying processes delivering varying quality among the project management team. The need to continually communicate with the accounting team to get visibility into even the most routine sets of data creates frustration and inefficiencies.

Here are some of the quotes we heard along the way:
“Every one of my project managers has their own spreadsheet for planning and managing their projects.”

“I know the information my project managers need is in our financial system; I just wish they could get to it in real-time to use it more effectively as they are making decisions.”

“We make money on 80% of our projects, but that 20% is killing us!”

“There is no standardized way to review and assess the health of each and every one of our projects on a regular basis.”

“Our billing process always bogs down in the project managers’ review of invoices.”

“Why can’t every job be as profitable as the projects done by Jim’s team? How can we replicate his process?”
Newforma Project Analyzer solves these problems and more! Here are some of the key features and benefits of the Newforma Project Analyzer:

Standardize project management - Newforma Project Analyzer encourages the development of standard project management and reporting processes across the office or the entire firm, increasing transparency, reducing risk and increasing profitability.

Improve decision making - Newforma Project Analyzer improves decision making by providing A/E project managers the tools to schedule, plan, track and report project financial performance. It also allows A/E firm executives to have the information at their fingertips to view graphical projections that illustrate the impacts of various scenarios.

Achieve broad adoption - Newforma Project Analyzer achieves broad adoption because it presents real-time project information in a highly visual manner that makes it easy to learn and easy to use. It is also easy to implement and easy to administer in a single office or across multiple offices.

Monitor & control project performance - Newforma Project Analyzer provides the tools that allow you to quickly and visually assess the performance of projects against budget, then drill into any area that warrants closer examination.

In summary, Newforma Project Analyzer is geared to deliver visibility and tools for both the project manager and firm executives. Information that the project manager routinely manages for purposes of tracking and controlling their projects is available in real-time for the executive team to roll-up into a firm view to facilitate projections and forecasting.

If you want to see a quick overview of the product, we have a 3-minute demonstration video on the Newforma Project Analyzer product product page or you can schedule your own personal presentation by emailing us at or calling us at +1-603-625-6212 Option 1.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Prouty Ultimate 2011 - Ride, Jesse, Ride

Our CEO, Ian Howell, was able to capture this live action shot of Jesse Devitte cycling through the streets of Goffstown, NH as he started on his journey towards completing the 200 mile bike ride in The Prouty Ultimate. Jesse, a Co-Founder & Founding Investor of Newforma, is supporting a great cause with his ride. He and Team Borealis have combined to raise over $86k for The Prouty and their support of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center.

If you're interested in supporting Jesse and Team Borealis in the The Prouty, it isn't too late. You can visit their team page and make a contribution. It is all being done for a great cause!

As for Jesse, so far, so good. He has passed the day one challenge and survived the grueling first 100 miles (99.02 according to his Garmin) to cross the finish line with a smile. In fact, he was able to finish his ride in just under 8 hours! Nice work Jesse!

For those data driven folks out there who like to see some numbers associated with his ride, here are the stats, courtesy of his Garmin device. Check out the elevation gain. Pretty impressive!

And, for those people who like to see some colorful charts & graphs, here are some nice eye-candy visuals on his ride. Those hills from 40 to 60 miles look pretty tough!

Tomorrow is another day, and another 100 miles to go, but I'm sure Jesse will tackle the ride like he does everything, with gusto! Good luck Jesse!

Tomorrow is also the start of The Prouty for Team Borealis members who didn't go for The Prouty Ultimate. We wish all of them the best of luck as well. Happy Cycling Team Borealis!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Support Team Borealis - The 30th Annual Prouty

This weekend a number of our friends will be participating in the 30th Annual Prouty, a fund-raising bike ride through New Hampshire’s scenic White Mountains. It was 30 years ago that four Cancer Center nurses rode 100 miles to honor their patient, Audrey Prouty and raised $4,000 for research at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center.

This year, the total donations have already reached $1.4 Million and more donations are rolling in by the minute. This is a great event where the proceeds support Cancer Center researchers and clinicians who are working on innovative ways to prevent, diagnose, treat and hopefully, one day, cure cancer.

Newforma is proud to be a supporter of Team Borealis for the 4th consecutive year. Led by Jesse “Double Century” Devitte, Team Borealis has raised over $70,000 through the outstanding efforts of 68 people and they are close to achieving their goal of $100,000. Jesse, who is on our board of directors and is a Co-Founder & Founding Investor of Newforma, has committed to riding the full 200 miles that comprise the Prouty Ultimate. Not bad for a guy who rode only 25 miles in his first Prouty 4 years ago! We wish Jesse and the rest of his team the best of luck!

If you would like to help support Jesse and Team Borealis, please visit their team page.

Happy Cycling Team Borealis! Keep your wheels on the pavement!