February 07, 2011
Manage the “I” in BIM with Project Information Management
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Industry News
Manage the “I” in BIM with Project Information Management

By Susan Smith

Information management systems abound these days in the AEC industry, and because there is so much information, there is a need to manage it from different perspectives. We have long been familiar with Building Information Modeling, or BIM. However, the growth of that technology has spawned other peripheral technologies that contribute critical data to the building information model.

Newforma's Project Information Management system, (PIM) Project Center, is one of those technologies, focused on the project management aspect of AEC workflows. Newforma Project Center Eighth Edition is the newest release of that product, which has built in ubiquitous access to shared information, shared responsibility, integrated project delivery, transparency and much more.

President Ian Howell and chief product officer Allen Preger said they now have more than 42,000 licensed users of Project Center. “We are also indexing 500 Terabytes of data, and a total of 420,000 projects are fully searchable,” said Howell. “Our customers can search over 100 million emails. They have managed the 3 million transmittals and ½ million submittals.”

Howell said that customers' project information management strategy is becoming “as important as their adoption of BIM because there is only so much you put in a BIM, and there are a lot of things happening in a model based design work process around the model to managing the “I” in BIM.”

One new product that address that “I” is the Newforma add-in for Revit.

Newforma Project Center Eighth Edition

Users of Project Center are familiar with the product's project email, markup, transmittals and action items which are part of its activity center. In the new version these functions have been greatly enhanced.

Other capabilities:
  • Info Exchange for information exchange with external team members has been enhanced.
  • View markup capabilities
  • Added Document Control
  • Meeting minutes
  • Project images
  • Spatial index
  • BIM Activity Center

Preger talked about Document Control, one of the more frequently requested capabilities. The customer wants a better way to manage their posted sets, the drawings reflected on the top of the shelf that are the current source of truth on the project, as notes, drawings, and sketches come in. They get inserted into this top set, superseded drawings get pushed down in the pecking order of shelves, the question is, do you have a way to solve this problem electronically?

Document Control in Newforma Project Center 8th Edition

“These drawings on the top are what people take into the field during construction,” said Preger. “Document Control provides a central list on a project of all the record documents - you've got the title of each document, the current revision the scale and size of the drawing, and then an interactive preview of this record document.”

In managing this information, there are can be thousands of these record documents on a project and the ability to edit these sheet lists in a spreadsheet is fundamental. “You can click edit in spreadsheet, it pops it out in Excel and you can insert an additional sheet, you can revise scale, size title of any existing sheet, and it will update the Document Control activity center for you.”

Newforma Add-in for Autodesk Revit - edit in spreadsheet

“You also have the ability with the Newforma add-in for Revit which is an optional module in PIM solution set, to synchronize the sheets of a Revit model (any of the Revit products) with the Document Control activity center,” said Preger. “so as new revisions are set to be reissued from the model, you can synchronize the sheets. Automatically those updates are seen in the Document Control activity center and more importantly down in the revision history. You've got a full accounting of each revision, each sheet coming out of the model, as well as who each sheet was issued to.”

Newforma Add-in for Autodesk Revit - synchronizing spatial data

This is critical information that also provides an audit trail. The other capability is the ability to publish the record document issue history in a document registered report. This formatted report capability is new in the Eighth Edition, utilizing an Excel file as a template.

Another key component to Document Control is that this information can be accessed remotely using Info Exchange - which is used as a file transfer mechanism, a way to exchange info between companies in a very transparent manner. Info Exchange offers remote access to all the information in Project Center including record documents. “The customer is onsite, they need a particular drawing, want to know if it was issued, click and it opens up file directly and they can zoom in and see if a particular detail has been picked,” explained Preger.

Meeting Minutes is the next important functionality in Project Center Eighth Edition. Meetings are an opportunity for different companies to come together on a project and interact. Being able to track meeting minutes, which is usually done via Excel, or email, is a challenge. With Meeting Minutes, users still schedule meetings in Outlook, still invite people and track responses and acceptances, “but if it's a project meeting you can go ahead and click the “create Newforma meeting” button in our Outlook add in.” The Outlook add-in runs inside of Outlook. The meeting is going to get synchronized with the Meeting Minutes activity center in the Project Center.

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