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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
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’s Connector Initiative to Handle Volume Data Between Platforms

 
October 6th, 2016 by Susan Smith

AECCafé spoke with Jim Forester, co-founder and vice president of business development, Newforma on Newforma’s recently announced Connector initiative to expand access to project information.

Newforma ConnectorAECCafe Voice: You mention PlanGrid and Dropbox, and I wonder if you plan to integrate the Newforma Connector with products offered by Autodesk and Bentley, for example?

Absolutely! We’ll be announcing more connectors built by Newforma as they get closer to general availability. Last week at Newforma World we also announced that our Newforma Cloud Services API will be available soon to partners so you’ll be seeing connectors built by our partner community in the future too. As to Autodesk and Bentley specifically, technically we already have a connector to some of their solutions in our flagship product Newforma Project Center. Our Revit Add-In allows us to mine Revit models for sheets, spaces, elements and properties to ensure our customers can leverage these items consistently outside the Revit model itself. We also have a connector to Bentley’s ProjectWise EDMS platform that many of our engineering customers use to help provide a consistent view of project data across their different storage locations. We currently connect with Microsoft SharePoint and IBM FileNet EDMS platforms as well. We will continue the evolution of these connectors to our new Newforma Cloud Services platform and look forward giving our customers access to the platforms and products that are critical parts of their project delivery portfolio.

AECCafe Voice: Will the integration extend to products that hold large amounts of data for file sharing?

Any connector built by Newforma will be designed to handle the significant volume of data that might need to migrate between platforms to meet the demands of the large, complex projects our customers work on. Connectors need to be robust and resilient not only to size, but latency and any throttling limitations that might be part of the target platform user profile. At the same time, we are very mindful of data sovereignty requirements that may preclude migration and honor those situations respectfully.

AECCafe Voice: What methods are customers currently using to file, share and manage their documents?

AEC professionals are already taking time to move documents to and from various industry platforms now. They do this for many reasons, but for Newforma customers it’s mostly for collaboration with colleagues, project requirements that mandate the use of a specific platform chosen by a key project stakeholder, or to leverage specialty tools necessary for a particular project task. Most of the time, this is done manually which can take a big chunk of time and introduces the risk of errors and omissions when things are moved or renamed improperly. This is multiplied repeatedly with every round trip so the time and risk on every project can be significant. Our customers have been asking for help with this challenge for quite some time and we think that smarter connections help them get back to doing more interesting and productive work.

AECCafe Voice: How will the Connector improve convenience, time and/or cost savings over a more traditional solution for AEC professionals?

We’ve heard estimates from some customers that the time spent on these tasks can add up to thousands of hours for a team working on a complex project. It’s tempting to take a single example like this and get to some big numbers quickly, but our customers work on lots of projects simultaneously and every project is different. At the same time, there are different value propositions associated with what a connector can do in a workflow scenario, such as the submittal approval process, versus a simple file transfer process. We think the actual numbers will be significant and are excited to develop some case studies to highlight successes as soon as we’ve got actual metrics to share both at a per-project level and across the enterprise.

AECCafe Voice: How will this impact field data and its use in the entire building lifecycle?

The time lost between data capture in the field and the moment when that data is made actionable by the project team is one of the areas we think we can significantly impact. RFIs that emerge from field conditions are a great example since they often will involve decisions and/or recommendations from the design team. The design team may be dispersed geographically and may need to engage with sub consultants for a response. Time to resolution can have major cost implications, so it’s critical that we look for ways to improve this in our industry. Designers using Newforma Cloud Services can publish it to PlanGrid, for example, for field activities and have those documents and site conditions automatically inform the design team using Newforma Cloud Services. This not only reduces the time to resolution, but also eliminates the double entry of data between systems required by the design team to maintain accurate logs for their project records.

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Categories: 2D, AEC, AECCafe, architecture, BIM, building information modeling, collaboration, construction, file sharing, infrastructure, Newforma, project management, sustainable design

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