August 20, 2007
Email, Project Knowledge and Support for BIM in Newforma Project Center Fourth Edition
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Email, Project Knowledge and Support for BIM in Newforma Project Center Fourth Edition

by Susan Smith

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As the first screen that appears upon launching Newforma Project Center, My Project Center gives you quick access to project information, enables you to customize your project list and provides quick links to recent files and Newforma Project Center activities.
Newforma recently announced the commercial availability of Newforma Project Center Fourth Edition, a project information management software for the AEC market, and also announced that their customer, HOK, has decided to deploy Newforma’s Project Center firmwide to 1600 users across their multiple offices worldwide.

Director of Product Management Allen Preger talked about their current installed base, comprised of 53 design firms managing information for 7,000 projects our current installed base. Of those design firms, most are using it firmwide and have it deployed at multiple offices. The product is used for mechanical design firms, civil design firms as well as design build and A/E firms.

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Newforma Project Center software provides workflow to streamline the markup and review of three-dimensional models. The Snapshot tool creates screen captures which Newforma Viewer displays for markup and sharing. Anybody on the project team can easily browse, preview and comment upon the markups. The process provides an audit trail of decisions for a design or submittal review.
Firms such as HOK have helped shape the direction of the product, said Preger. The product is in a limited release mode where Newforma asks a handful of accounts to upgrade their production environment to the limited release product. “They have been using it on live projects for the last couple of months,” said Preger. “We do that to shake out the final deployment issues, configuration issues, catch any last minute defects in the software before we go for commercial availability.”

There are three key areas where Newforma delivers additional benefit in the Fourth Edition:

- Email management. Preger said that the Fourth Edition builds on strength begun in the Third Edition, so a lot of firms are basing their decision to go to enterprise on Newforma Project Center. It has the ability to automate and streamline the management of their email. “Email is a big issue and headache for many IT directors for these firms, but also for the users,” Preger noted.

- Project knowledge and the ability to harvest the wealth of project information in archived projects and other projects, even in your own projects. “The searching capability of Project Center that extends into all the major native file formats has now extended to deal with not only the current project that you’re focused on but to also deal with any project the firm has ever dealt with,” explained Preger. “Now we’re finding firms are taking their archived data that’s sitting on tape backup drives and DVD drives and putting it onto low cost server media just so Project Center can search that information.

- Supporting the BIM process. There are three key areas where Newforma supports BIM:

  1. Coordination, review and markup. “We provided a powerful environment for marking up, reviewing and sharing those views and discussions among fellow project team members.”
  2. There’s also search that has been extended to support the intelligent object properties in BIM models so you can now search the hidden object properties in a BIM model.
  3. Compare. As you’re moving from milestone to milestone in a BIM environment, you have the ability to compare the upcoming milestone with the previous milestone to catch any unintended changes and to insure that any changes that were intended were properly documented.

- There are also 127
other customer requests and enhancements.

click to enlarge [

The Project Email window allows you to sort messages using multiple parameters
such as “From,” “To,” “Subject,” “Attachments” and more.
When you open Project Center, there are a list of projects under My Projects and you can customize this like you would customize your My Yahoo page, drag and drop your content into here. You can also reach out across the firm to access all the firms’ projects, as well as archived projects. Sample issues are action items, submittals that are under review, items on item exchange, which are displayed as you are passing through Project Center to get into the project.

One benefit of Project Center is the search capability. “For example, if I search for a term like LEED, I’m looking for information regarding a LEED credit, I just do a search of the project, it will come up with every match of the term LEED in my project, so I have PDFs, CAD files and a WinZip file,” Preger pointed out. “It tells me the file inside the WinZip, including email. You can filter the list for email too. I now have a central place for all my project email and can also search attachments.”

There is integration with Outlook that makes this possible. “Inside Outlook we have installed a Project Center toolbar, and if I get an email that I know is related to a project, I can simply file it in the project, it will move the email to a projects folder inside Outlook. So it will remove it from my inbox and it moves it within my personal inbox inside Outlook.”

“After having filed that project email with the project, I can then do a search as I have done with LEED to find emails that contain that term, or I can go to the project email activity center which is brand new in Fourth Edition. It provides a single view of all the email that’s been filed to the project no matter where it’s been filed. If I’m only looking for emails that have PDFs as attachments, and have RFI in the subject line and came from Bob Wilder and were sent to John Doe, it filters that list down. This gives you a powerful tool for finding email that’s associated with the project.”

The second key point in 4.0 is that searching has been expanded beyond just searching for information in the current project. “Every single project that HOK has done is accessible to all the project teams,” said Preger. “This demonstrates how firms can now make use of this archived information. Currently, if you want to access archived projects you must make a request through IT (because it’s generally on tape or DVD) which takes awhile to find.”

Many accounts are dedicating Newforma servers to archiving project data and taking that tape and DVD backed up data and putting it onto lower cost server media. They are creating former projects out of projects that never used Newforma. “All you do to create a project is point it to the data and Newforma starts indexing it and organizing it for you, and searching.”

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