March 09, 2009
Newforma Supports Integrated Project Delivery
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Susan Smith, Managing Editor
Newforma Supports Integrated Project Delivery
By Susan Smith
Integrated Project Delivery as defined by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) is supported by “open and interoperable data exchanges based on a disciplined and transparent data structure.” The idea is to use technologies that use open standards in order to eliminate the practice of having to integrate all applications and versions of software with others, which is costly and time consuming.
A number of products to support Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) are appearing on the market. Newforma has just released its Newforma Project Center Sixth Edition, which focuses on Project Information Management (PIM). What PIM offers is management of transmittals, emails, and RFIs. In Sixth Edition addresses productivity and risk mitigation functionality, coupled with the ability to support more advanced work processes, which in turn offer steps toward enabling Integrated Project Delivery.
“We can now support LEED certification administration,” said CEO Ian Howell, posing the question, “In the same way processes in the offices are evolving from being document based to being model based, how do we actually support model based design processes centered around the use of BIM?”
In addition, Sixth Edition incorporates over 60 requests for enhancements from Newforma customers.
Howell said that PIM in the context of IPD addresses changes that many firms would like to make, in terms of efficiencies, predictable delivery, getting rid of errors and omissions, being more collaborative and managing project information at a much more complex level around LEED certification. For achieving an integrated practice the AIA has new forms of contract and multiple partner agreements.
“There is the idea of sharing a BIM model where you are doing coordination through the model in terms of multidisciplinary coordination,” said Howell. “There are other pieces of the puzzle as underlined here that Newforma Project Center facilitates, in terms of managing project documentation, capturing decisions, largely in email, streamlining workflow around traditional processes like RFIs and submittals and allowing the team to collaborate more effectively, with reliable communication.”
Sixth Edition sends out alerts and notifications, and keeps logs of action items, where action items are assigned to an owner with the due data so the system builds in accountability. All of the logs are visible to the team. Project Email is no longer in the personal engineer or architect’s inbox, it’s on the central file server, visible to the whole team. This transparency supports the spirit of the multi-partner agreement, involving all trusted members of the team.
Howell said that LEED administration is a highly structured process with predefined requirements. This involves managing a lot of the information, assembling it in a different way and being able to submit it to certification. Sixth Edition attempts to help project engineers and architects get that job done much more easily. Unlike LEED administration, workflows around the model and model based design are still being worked out.
There is a requirement in the LEED registration process for a clear definition of roles and responsibilities. A specific deliverable as kind of a baseline of your registration process is the LEED roles and responsibilities matrix. Newforma suggests taking the LEED roles and responsibilities and capturing those as action items inside Newforma Project Center. When you capture these as action items in Newforma Project Center, said Howell, it gives you a framework in which you can organize and capture the resulting corresponding information. For example, when an email comes in that’s about a specific LEED certification credit, you have already within your Newforma Project Center toolbar the opportunity to file that email under that action item. It keeps all the flow of information well organized, so when it’s time to report or justify compliance with the LEED strategy, you’ve got reports and information that show exactly how the decisions were made, who was responsible and when they completed the piece of work. You can also reassign action items so that you’re sure someone follows through on her responsibilities. That person gets a standard notification by email to let her know the action item has been reassigned to her and tells her what her responsibilities are. The current status is always available as a report out of the action items activity center, so you can
see the current status of various elements of work.
Another key element of LEED certification is a commissioning phase of the process which often happens six months to a year after the design team’s finished. By tracking those follow up items as action items people automatically get notifications and reminders of those items, concluding the whole process to assure that the LEED goals have been achieved.
In Sixth Edition customers have the ability to relate action items and other elements to specific milestones in the project timeline. “For example, here we have a project timeline event which is a milestone around the LEED design submission and we’ve associated with that some specific action items that are required to achieve this particular milestone,” explained Howell. “So by picking on the milestone in the project time line you can see in the project log down below a filtered list of exactly what the various action items are that are required to achieve with that milestone and that current status.”
Sixth Edition is also designed to support BIM related work processes. Model related data exchange today generally involves a variety of purpose built tools with structural engineers and architects using different software. The models aren’t stored within a single system, and very large information models must be moved between different organizations and across different network environments. As the volume of information grows, it becomes more and more of a challenge to track whose got what and when and what version they have as things change on the fly. Keeping track of the documentation becomes a huge challenge. Making decisions earlier in a collaborative environment is a popular new
approach, yet poses the challenge of capturing design intent and decisions in such a way that it’s not necessary to revisit those decisions in the field later on in the process.
Sixth Edition includes a markup session activity center which is used to track queries about a model, or revisions that are required for a model. This activity center understands markups from a variety of sources, such as PDF, DWF, Bluebeam, Autodesk Design Review or the Adapx pen. These revisions and markups make is possible to track the decision process. Also, markups can be taken from Adapx digital pen and paper right into the Newforma viewer. All markups are indexed and fully searchable. In addition, the markup session log allows markups to be retrieved when users need them.
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-- Susan Smith, AECCafe.com Managing Editor.
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