Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »
Newforma product line spring 2013 release
March 15th, 2013 by Susan Smith
Bob Batcheler, co-founder and executive vice president of Strategy for Newforma, talked with AECCafe Voice about the new spring 2013 release of the Newforma product line. The company is well known for its Newforma Project Center, a project information management software (PIM). The product line also includes Newforma Building Information Management, Newforma Contract Management, Newforma Project Analyzer and Newforma Project Cloud. Its new enterprise project resource management software, Newforma Project Analyzer, is a product built expressly for project managers and principals in architecture and engineering firms.
Newforma Project Analyzer provides effective project resource management by delivering real-time project budgeting, planning, staffing, and scheduling information in a highly visual, easy-to-use format. According to the press release, project managers gain the information to make more informed decisions about staffing and the use of budgeted fees, and principals gain visibility into firm-wide utilization and projected cash flow. This release includes high-priority customer enhancements, including detailed work planning, net revenue projections, baseline budgeting and reporting, project workplan approval, enhanced project security by role, multi-currency support, and more.
“Our mission is connecting A,E, C, and O, whether you’re an AEC professional or owner connecting people to their information and streamlining their processes,” explained Batcheler.
The products are now in the final stages of the release process for general availability.
“We want to connect new product releases to our mission, connecting AECO, and show the five ways in which people can be connected to their information,” said Batcheler. “Connecting people to project information, connecting building information to project information, connection of BIM to PIM, connecting design to construction, connecting field to office, and finally, connecting entire project team to all the Newforma products and services available.”
Connecting people to their project information.
“When we started our initial product offering was Newforma Project Center, which focused on enabling customers to manage their project information behind their firewall. It could be used to reduce paper flow and find and organize information,” said Batcheler. “When you’re at the office the enterprise based solution works extremely well. When you get into the construction phase, the benefit of having that information available to the project team is needed. That’s where Newforma Project Cloud hosted cloud service gives all project team members access to information, enables them to reduce their submittal and RFI time by over 50% by just streamlining and simplifying their process. Logging and processing submittals reflects web-based markup tools that enable people to collaborate and reduce errors. We believe you shouldn’t need to know and care where that information is coming from. AECO industry stakeholders increasingly just need access to information wherever it is they are. The mobile apps allow them to bring project documents into the field, and we’ve got four mobile apps that deliver on that promise.”
Connecting building information to project information.
Once Newforma licensed the VEO platform they incorporated that into their building information management module, providing the Newforma Model Viewer. That allows them to take a Revit or 3D AutoCAD model and post that to the cloud and provide access to that model to anybody within their firm. They don’t have to have Revit on their computers. It allows them to navigate the model, to associate Newforma project information items to elements to elements in the model.
“So you could be browsing the model through the Model Viewer, see a condition you want to write up and right from within that view, initiate that project information item,” Batcheler pointed out. “It captures the relationship between that item, the view and the revision state of the model. When someone is looking at that in Project Center they will see an appropriate activity center. A related item will call out a model view that was created when that item came in. You can also see the same view with the current state of the model. It’s not a static view of the model; you can rotate it, freeze elements of the model, so you can get a better view of the context. That’s what this is about, capturing spatial and chronological context, and you can also associate any type of document with any element or view in that published model. All project team members can have access to that model; they don’t need Revit. The published form of the model exists in the Cloud.”
The difference between this solution and Autodesk’s BIM 360 is the integration with the rest of the project information management solution, according to Batcheler.
Newforma approaches the issue from the project information management first with an association to the building model to provide context, building on the strength of Project Center, rather than leading with the model geometry as BIM 360 does.
Connecting design to construction
AEs focus on their company as an entity – they really are seeking ways to standardize their practices across all their projects across the entire company, looking for repeatability performance and capitalizing on best practices and proliferating those throughout organizations. AEs consider their practices this way and consider how to streamline operations across all projects. AEs can hang onto their own information, but through Newforma they can streamline sharing of information between different players in the process.
“We’ve become more successful in construction,” said Batcheler. “Contractors and owners focus on the project, they buy a solution for a specific project. A lot of that is driven by the fact that there’s an extended project team. A design team might have a dozen or so sub-consultants. It’s not unusual for a contractor to have hundreds of subcontractors. This leads them to think of problems differently, and consider the desirability of cloud-based solutions: one repository, not so concerned about ownership of information, as making sure everyone can get everything.”
Newforma acquired Attolist, LLC, the developer of AEC-Sync web-based construction collaboration software in August to provide the Project Cloud solution. AEs can begin the design process using the enterprise system across the projects of Project Center and as it moves toward t he construction phase, take the solution in the cloud and continue carrying their work through with Project Center that interacts seamlessly with Project Cloud.
Connecting field to office
“All those players are on the go,” said Batcheler. “Mobile solutions enable all project team members to connect to information whether it resides in an enterprise-based system based on Newforma Project Center or a project-based system based on Project Cloud. The same mobile apps can access that project information and they integrate with all Newforma products.”
Connecting project team members to Newforma products and services
Newforma ID is similar to Apple ID in that it allows customers and extended project team members effort to have a single sign on access to all their connections to projects that are being hosted by Newforma solutions. They are presented with a list of all projects they are involved in. Newforma ID is a free service available to all AECO participants, just log in with a valid email. Extended project team as well as customers can connect to their projects wherever they are.
For architects and engineers only, Project Analyzer is a financial and project resource management solution app that takes information from Deltek and takes historical project information from the financial system and marries it with project management information that the project manager creates around schedule, budget staffing, etc.
New functions in the latest release of Newforma Project Analyzer include:
. Detailed work planning and more flexible scheduling of staff, including the ability to put projects and phases on hold.
· “Job to Date” (JTD) and “Estimate at Complete” (EAC) reporting and visualization throughout the application
· Integration with Newforma Project Center enterprise software
· A new approval process for project schedule, workplan, and budget
· Multi-currency support
· Staffing projections in the project tracking graph, so that it now displays staffing, actual cost, budget, and percent complete information in a single view
· Enhanced capacity to save baseline budgets for comparison and reporting
· A new net revenue projection report and associated chart
· Enhanced support for projects that mix billing types (e.g., by fee and by time and materials) by phase
· Improved project security and permissions
· The ability to override the financial system’s employee cost information
· A maximum cost rate for use in planning
· Ability to rename common fields to support customer terminology
· Significantly improved application performance when loading data grids
· Ability to enter and view labor budgets at the cost or fee rate
· Improved overall user experience