September 10, 2007
Toward Successful Implementations
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Susan Smith, Managing Editor
Toward Successful Implementations
by Susan Smith
In the past few years, when asked what is the greatest competitor of the construction project management system, many people have cited the fax machine and email. That list of competitors might also be expanded to include Microsoft Excel and other office management tools.
Although project management systems are great technologies, the road to adoption has sometimes been slow. Perhaps part of the reason for this is that in some firms, there isn’t time to teach new technologies to users, in the midst of a demanding building and construction process. But what if some users could use their existing technologies and benefit from a new technology without the learning curve?
Customers have come to Meridian Systems with three top needs:
1. They need to differentiate themselves from their peers. Technology has become a need-to-have rather than a luxury item. Prolog continues to be successful in small to medium sized companies.
Proliance is targeted to the enterprise market. Their priorities are improving their project cost control. Best practices have been implemented and many companies are standardizing on one technology so the entire organization can apply their business processes.
2. Improving visibility across their business using business analytics and business intelligence functionality. With project data in a centralized data, the company is in a position to look at performance across a whole company.
3. Customers are interested in how they will be successful with their implementation. The Starter Pack that Meridian released this summer is a series of technical components bundled together to help accelerate implementations for customers. Sue Watkins, director of marketing for Meridian said the Starter Pack is in response to helping the construction project management business get a head start, using their experience in that field. “We saw what customers wanted to do in their configurations and so we decided to take some technology components, package them up, give them some preconfigured dashboards, workflows, a series of items that customers need. This way they don’t
have to pay to have these things developed from scratch every time they go through an implementation.”
A new technology trend Meridian sees is called composite or role based applications, a development strategy being endorsed by Microsoft, designed to help customers be more successful with their implementations. “Getting your end users to adopt is part of that success,” said Watkins. “A lot of companies are familiar with this big monolithic enterprise application and it gets implemented and that’s the way it is. Users have to adapt their processes to work with the technology and we have seen how that can really go wrong, and you can see a lot of customer resistance in that situation. The composite application strategy enables companies like Meridian to roll out
role based interfaces for different types of users.”
What this means is that rather than using the interface that comes with a product, the “role based” interface is tailored to someone’s task or how they might use the software. In a project team situation, there are many contributors, project managers and others who may only be contributing data into invoices. “Rather than having to train them on the entire Proliance system, we can give them office business applications that are smart documents that leverage the familiar interface of Microsoft Excel and they can use that to input their information,” Watkins said. “It essentially allows them to connect in real time into the Proliance application and the
data gets input and goes where it needs to go.”
Contributors can upload contracts using an office business application that uses Excel, open Excel, scan in their information and configure it in their worksheet. Then the office business application can launch Proliance. Since most construction firms are familiar with Excel, there is no learning curve.
They can do the login which keeps all the required security and can get that information into Proliance based on preconfigured workflows. “It’s a huge step forward in terms of insuring applications get used and get adopted, by eliminating those barriers and customizing to a specific path or role in the organization.”
Proliance is built on the SOA platform, which allows users to get a solution tailored to their organizations.
The Starter Pack is a collection of all these technologies and interacts with Proliance.
You can configure an office business application, which Microsoft calls OBAs for short, and orchestrate how you want data to come from a Microsoft application into Proliance or other applications that are built on an SOA.
Prolog is a Windows client server application for the desktop. Look forward to seeing new updates for Prolog and Proliance from Meridian, and a lot of new things on the services side, as well as a set of solution accelerating components for the Starter Pack.
Meridian Systems announced that a new Aberdeen Group, Inc. research study on enterprise spend for real estate and facilities management is now available as a free download at
Carter and Company, LLC reports that shifts in market strategies with design and engineering technology vendors are linked to shifts in industry trends. Factors such as the increase in contract labor, increased software capabilities, and decreasing limitations on internet bandwidth have given rise to a decentralized buying power in the technology marketplace. In response, reactive vendors are adjusting their sales structures to maximize market penetration.
According to the CAD Salary Survey—research conducted annually by Autodesk User Group International (AUGI) since 2002—small firms are slowly disappearing. Companies with fewer than ten employees represented 18% of the field in 2002, but has declined steadily to just 14% in 2006. Instead, production is trending toward independent contractors. While the percentage employed in large firms (over 200 employees) has remained steady in each survey, the number of independent contractors increased 26% in 2006 alone.
The Aatrial House, designed in
ArchiCAD by Polish architect Robert Konieczny, has been named “House of the Year” by World Architecture News. The Aatrial House was designed by Konieczny, with the collaboration of Marlena Wolnik and Lukasz Prazuch, of KWK PROMES.
Bentley executives, owner-operators, engineering, procurement, and construction contractors, design institute executives, commercial and technical developers, Bentley business partners, and other leaders in China's infrastructure community gathered for the first day of Greater China BE (Bentley Empowered) Meeting and Bentley Partner Conference 2007. This three-day event, taking place at the Guiyan Guizhou Park Hotel, is sponsored by Bentley Systems, Incorporated, a leading provider of software for the lifecycle of the world's infrastructure.
Bentley Systems, Incorporated announced at this gathering of prominent organizations in China's infrastructure community that it has acquired REI China's structural steel analysis, design, and drawing software solutions.
The solutions include STAAD/CHINA (based on STAAD.Pro) and Steel Structure Design and Drawings (SSDD), both of which have been certified by the Steel Structure Committee of China Construction Metal Structure Association and are widely deployed across China. Among the more than 2000 users of STAAD/CHINA are China Architecture Design & Research Group, China National Petroleum Corporation, all provincial power design institutes, Shanghai Boiler Plant Co., and XuZhou FeiHong Space Frame Group Co., Ltd.
Green Building Studio, Inc., the leading sustainability analysis software, training, and services company in the architectural, engineering, and construction industry, announced an October 8-9, 2007 session for the AEC Industry's first Carbon Neutral Design Training. The two-day "How Low Can You Go?" training is designed for Lead Architects and Design Teams seeking to lead the charge for carbon neutral buildings. It will be held in the heart of the Sonoma Wine Country region during the fall crush at Vintners Inn north of Santa Rosa, California.
You can find the full AECCafe event calendar here.
To read more news, click here.
-- Susan Smith, AECCafe.com Managing Editor.
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