AEC From the Ground Up-Put Our Projects Online1 Dec, 2005 By: AIA ,H. Edward Goldberg Cadalyst
What’s new in online project management and
PROJECT COLLABORATION SITES sprouted during the heyday of the Internet boom with the goal of streamlining the paper-bound process of designing and constructing a building. The Internet showed great promise as a way to link all participants in the process and ensure that all had access to the most current set of documentation. In general, those products that survive today have managed to find and serve a particular market niche.
This year, we found relatively little that's new in the project management area, so we'll just quickly update what's new in the various options. You can read last year's coverage at www.cadalyst.com/1204aeccol.htm. In general, such products offer design collaboration tools such as markup and redlining. There's typically a central document storage area with version control, RFI management and automatic change notification. Most products extend beyond the design stage to encompass tasks as procurement, cost control and facilities management. Most are available in modular form so customers can handpick a customized system.
Project collaboration products are generally available in a selection of platforms, including client-server, Web-based client-server, ASP (application solution provider) and self-hosted. Most feature some form of Web browser-based access to accommodate users at remote locations. Vendor-hosted applications eliminate the need for your company to acquire, maintain and upgrade hardware and software. Costs can be more easily assigned to specific projects. Data security and accessibility are concern with vendor hosting.
One last piece of advice, before you buy any collaboration platform; be sure to insist on field-testing the solution using your own staff and business processes requirements; this is the most important thing you can do to ensure success.
Autodesk's hosted service is available in two versions: plain Buzzsaw for design collaboration and Buzzsaw Professional for project and portfolio management. Eight different permission levels are available. Cost allocation is facilitated by Sepialine's Argos Data Exchange—Buzzsaw Edition, which is included in the Buzzsaw subscription price. New features in Buzzsaw Professional v6.3 include automated creation and tracking of submittal packets, additional standard forms and the ability to limit project storage space.
ProjectWise is a document management tool that scales from workgroup to enterprise-level and beyond. It provides security tools, search features, automatic indexing, and workflow tools such as automatic publishing of documents at specific project milestones.
The Constructware application is a hosted, Web-based communication and collaboration tool (figure 1). Of particular interest to architects and engineers, Constructware has a sophisticated online drawing and document management tool called File Manager. Other modules handle cost management and XML-based data exchange. Its Communication Specification tool manages the exchange of documents and information among the project team.
Figure 1. Constructware offers a flexible XML-based data exchange model that allows each client to customize business rules and data flows between Constructware and virtually any application, regardless of the platform.
Meridian's Prolog Application Suite for project management covers collaboration, purchasing management, scheduling, cost control, document management and field administration. The company's Proliance product integrates project and portfolio management. It adds facilities management tools, business process management and business intelligence features.
Primavera provides an integrated construction management tool that features role-based dashboards that display only that information needed for scheduling, contract management, contract data and more (figure 2). It also offers a line of desktop products for various levels of need. SureTrak Project Manager supports simple scheduling for small-to medium-sized projects. P3 (Project Planner Professional) provides single-project schedule control for large projects. Contractor enables subcontractors to synchronize their schedules with the general contractor by e-mailing updates. Prime Contract automates business processes between project owners and their contractors.
Figure 2. Using Primavera s role-based dashboard, each team member can easily identify the source of a problem, drill down for more details, and take immediate action to resolve issues.
Citadon provides on-demand, Web-based document management, process management and collaboration solutions. Knowledge portal is Citadon's term for a dashboard that presents a single view of project-related activities and information.
ProjectNet is Citadon's document management package, which provides tracking, audit trails and automatic action item notifications. ProjectNet STE is a version aimed at small companies and project teams.
Citadon CW (collaboration workspaces) delivers document management, business process management and collaboration capabilities for complex, large-scale, enterprise-wide projects that involve multiple teams from within and outside of an organization. Citadon CW comes with standard business process templates, which can be customized or redesigned using Citadon BPD, a visual development environment for creating, designing and defining project workflows and processes. Citadon Velocity, Citadon's newest solution, integrates a Web services oriented architecture that enables project team members to use their Windows Explorer desktop environment, a Web browser or a Citadon-specific interface.
TRIRIGA was formed in 2000 by Marnell Corrao Associates, located in Las Vegas and one of the top design-build firms in the hotel/casino industry. In 2002 TRIRIGA acquired FacilityCenter 7 from Peregrine systems. FacilityCenter 7 manages buildings from design through facility management. TRIRIGA's latest product line is the Enterprise Workplace Management suite, which covers processes from design through operation. For project management, TRIRIGA modules handle everything from budgeting and scheduling to risk management, field supervision, design development and review, bidding and procurement. New in the 2005 TRIRIGA release are applications for reservation of rooms and other business resources (i.e., equipment, vehicles), including services that accompany those reservations; and for asset and facility-based condition assessment.
H. Edward Goldberg, AIA, NCARB, is a practicing licensed architect and AEC industry analyst. His book Autodesk Architectural Desktop 2006: A Comprehensive Tutorial (Prentice Hall; www.prenhall.com) is now available. Ed also offers online Architectural Desktop training sessions. Visit www.hegra.org for more information, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.