October 02, 2006
Forefront Construction Suite Version 12
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor


by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Welcome to AECWeekly! Dexter & Chaney have recently released version 12 of their Forefront Construction Suite, running on Microsoft SQL Server. Read about the new features of this release in this week's Industry News.


AECWeekly is a news magazine featuring important industry news profiles, a summary of recently published AEC product and company news, customer wins, and coming events. Brought to you by AECCafe.


AECWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements, Announcements, People, New Products, Around the Web and Upcoming Events.


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Susan Smith, Managing Editor


Industry News

Forefront Construction Suite Version 12

by Susan Smith


Dexter & Chaney have recently released version 12 of their Forefront Construction Suite, running on Microsoft SQL Server.


According to Brad Mathews, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, having an SQL database is like having a "librarian."


With the SQL database, a software application asks the librarian for information and the database knows where the information is. "Instead of handing you the original data file for you to manipulate, read and maybe change," said Mathews, "the SQL librarian hands you a copy of the data which you can read and change. The SQL database makes sure you're a verified user, and manages the whole data process. It protects the security and the integrity of the data. Only the SQL librarian is allowed to revise the data, and makes sure it's entered correctly. It makes a snapshot picture of the database before the change and after the change. It makes the transition happen and makes sure the record is
officially changed. All of that means your data is secure and any updates to that data take place properly."


This is critical in an organization where a computer might go down in the middle of a critical process. "If you were right in the middle of a normal update with an old fashioned database, the database could get all screwed up and all kinds of data could be wrong," warned Mathews. "The only way you could fix it would be to go back to a back up of the database (there are some recovery programs out there that might be able to fix it) which might be last night's backup. Then you have to figure out everything you did all morning, and go back and redo all that work. In the SQL world, if the computer goes down in the midst of the update, then the whole database, when it turns back on, just steps
back to the point prior to that update."


The new version of Forefront features Google-like search capability. "What we're referring to there is our document imaging capability," explained Mathews. "We're storing any document - plans and drawings, RFI documents, change requests, submittals, vendor invoices, time cards for the payroll system - any paper document can be imaged and any file like an Excel spreadsheet can be attached. The imaging system runs throughout Forefront, which is an accounts payable, payroll, project management, job costing, and equipment system. If there is somewhere you might want to keep a record, you've got a master file on a piece of equipment open. You could store a bunch of paper documents or electronic documents about that piece of equipment or employee, vendor or job, etc. Each time you scan a document in, such as a vendor invoice or a contract, Forefront is in the background. When that document gets scanned in, Forefront reads the document, scans the content of the document using what's called ‘optical character recognition (OCR),' and reads and indexes that information." This is similar to what Google does: it looks at all content on the Internet, and indexes and figures out what in that content is relevant and structures its storage of that information. "That indexing makes searching the content very quick." The difference with Forefront is, Google shows you web pages, whereas
Forefront shows you documents where a searched phrase or content appears.


Another new feature of version 12 is the meeting minutes enhancement that allows you to structure information in an outline form. "You can identify who was at the meeting and you can also assign responsibilities using the meeting minutes," noted Mathews. "You can attach the minutes with a punch list of items that need to be accomplished, and assign different people to items on that list. We can integrate the document imaging along with the meeting minutes, so if there are three of us from the company in this meeting, rather than typing all the meeting notes into the meeting minutes, we can just scan our notes right into the software. It will attach those as part of the meeting. There are
the actual handwritten or typed notes scanned right in to become part of meeting record." This feature also integrates with all aspects of project management such as change orders, change requests, RFIs and submittals.


The Forefront Tasks feature integrates Forefront and Microsoft Outlook, which enables creating roadmaps for executing step-by-step processes. This is useful for helping users creation job cost projections or month-end closing procedures.


Learning to use the Forefront Construction Suite can vary according to a user's role in the company, said Mathews. For example, a project manager will have responsibilities that are related to some specific tasks, but the learning curve will be fairly easy. The controller may have a higher learning curve because he or she's tasks are more complex. Duties include understanding payroll, payables, the general ledger and other areas of the business. The equipment manager will probably have an easy time because his involvement will be with specific tasks related to equipment.


Forefront Construction Suite competes with Timberline, Constructware, Prolog, Primavera (to a certain extent), e-Builder, Viewpoint, and "a lot of programs in the construction software business." "We see our software as more broad reaching," Mathews concluded. "Our objective is to bring the operational side of business together with the financial side of business, so people don't have to re-enter things over again. After all, they're all working from the same set of numbers."


Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements


InterDoc and Right Hemisphere announced a partnership today to bring advanced 2D and 3D publishing solutions to Canadian manufacturers. Through InterDoc -- a large Canadian solution provider specialized in business process management (BPM), knowledge management (KM) and system innovation -- Right Hemisphere's Product Graphics Management (PGM) solutions will be available to Canadians for the first time. InterDoc will sell, implement, and provide the primary line of support for Right Hemisphere's software in both Canada and the Northeast region of the U.S.


Announcements


Meridian Systems, provider of enterprise project management software for optimizing capital projects, programs and facilities, today announced a new subscription-based program designed for Meridian customers and authorized partners who want to extend the Proliance software solution on their own. The Meridian Developer Network (MDN) for Proliance is now available, and provides access to technical tools and resources.


The IntelliCAD Technology Consortium (ITC), today announced keynote speakers for the 3rd annual IntelliCAD World Meeting. Neil Peterson, CTO, Open Design Alliance, and Keith Mountain, CEO, Spatial will give separate keynote presentations at the event.


The IntelliCAD World Meeting is a multi-day conference for people interested in IntelliCAD, IntelliCAD members, and the IntelliCAD development team. This year's event will take place October 11-13, 2006 at the Manteo Resort in Kelowna, British Columbia Canada.



Intergraph Corporation, a global provider of spatial information management (SIM) software, today announced that the U.S. antitrust agencies have granted early termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended, effective September 26, 2006, in connection with the Company's pending acquisition by an investor group led by Hellman & Friedman LLC and Texas Pacific Group in a transaction valued at approximately $1.3 billion.

The transaction remains subject to the receipt of shareholder approval as well as the satisfaction of other previously disclosed closing conditions. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2006.


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