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.

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