AEC

Cadalyst AEC Tech News #134

16 Dec, 2004 By: Michael Dakan


Cadalyst AEC Tech News

Project Management, Scaled Down

Citadon Releases ProjectNet Small Team Edition

In early October Citadon, headquartered in San Francisco, California, released a new, lower-cost version of its ProjectNet document management and collaboration software: ProjectNet Small Team Edition. Like the previous solution from Citadon, ProjectNet STE is Web-based ASP software hosted by Citadon's servers and licensed on an annual subscription basis. No software installation is required, because all functionality is provided on an on-demand basis from the Web site.

ProjectNet STE provides all the functions of its big brother, ProjectNet, in a version designed for a team instead of a multiproject, enterprise-level environment. Chief among the functionality provided is online document storage and management.

Document Management
STE provides a centralized document storage location for the team. Team members can upload and download documents from anywhere in their environment, local or network hard drive, desktop and so forth, provided they have the requisite permissions to do so. A folder template structure is available to facilitate fast project setup, if desired. The default folder structure can be revised, renamed and reorganized to meet project needs.

Access control is flexible and simple, using a wizard-style interface to set team permissions. Multiple levels of access can be established on a group or per-user basis. Levels range from no access, in which a user cannot see that a file even exists, to full control, which allows a user to perform any action on a file. A default security profile can be applied to all new information and then later modified on a document-by-document basis.

An audit trail is automatically maintained by tracking all changes to project documents by time and user ID for later review and approval. A complete history of changes is maintained to allow future review of project chronology. Copies of all intermediate revised file versions are stored in the central document storage area.

Some 200 file types are supported to allow online viewing of documents, including Microsoft Office, AutoCAD and MicroStation files. No separate installation of proprietary viewers is required to view almost any document of any file type. AutoCAD and MicroStation files can be set to automatically package all internally referenced files so users have access to all design file information when viewing online and downloading.

Collaboration Tools
ProjectNet STE also provides a collaboration environment for the project team. An online Team Directory saves key information about all team members, including contact information and project responsibilities.

Project communication is provided via messaging on an individual, group or team level. Project access controls are applied to attached information, and actions performed on attachments are recorded in the project history and audit trail. The ProjectNet STE Project Manager can broadcast announcements to the entire team. These are automatically shown in a scrolling window when a user logs on to the system.

A discussion forum environment is provided for group discussion of project information. Multiple discussion forums can be set up to allow separate discussions on multiple project topics. Messages are threaded and time-stamped to allow review of discussion history and the order in which information is added.

A project calendar provides visibility to all team members for key project dates and events. In addition to project milestone s, a detailed daily calendar can show project details such as meeting schedules. Task management allows tracking of project assignments and due dates, so all team members can see what is happening projectwide, along with details about who's doing what.


Summary
ProjectNet STE provides a rich environment for document and project management that rivals any system on the market, at a reasonable cost. It provides the full capabilities of the larger Citadon ProjectNet solution for a $75 per month per user subscription. This cost covers only a single project team setup, unlike the larger systems that may handle multiple teams and project setups in an integrated environment.

The ProjectNet STE environment is an on-demand, Web-based, turnkey solution that requires little up-front installation cost and no monthly maintenance or system management costs outside of the subscription fee. In-house management to keep the system going must be provided in conjunction with normal project monitoring and review tasks. The system will require a pretty rigorous, regular and ongoing project review process to accomplish tasks such as forum moderation and communication and correspondence review; however, this required rigor could also be seen as an added benefit to using a comprehensive and powerful management system.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael Dakan is an author and independent CAD and information technology consultant. E-mail him at michael.dakan@cadalyst.com.


Note to Readers: Cadalyst AEC Tech News will take a break for the holidays — we'll be back on Thursday, January 6, 2005. The staff of Cadalyst would like to thank our loyal readers and advertisers for your support in 2004 and wish each of you the most enjoyable of holiday seasons and a healthy and prosperous 2005.




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