Story at a glance:
- Newforma’s Project Center organizes your data without you ever having to move it.
- Newforma’s Project Information Management (PIM) software connects all sources of project information under one platform, with powerful search functionality.
- Newforma’s PIM software automates manual processes and keeps projects on-track.
All major construction projects have one thing in common: mountains of data.
Design data. Engineering data. Construction data. That means thousands of emails and millions of digital files that need storing and sorting. The problem is, those files end up siloed instead of centralized, creating communication and planning issues that could adversely affect workflow, deadlines, budgets, and more.
That’s where PIM software comes in. In connecting all sources of information, it greatly enhances the business intelligence value of projects. Newforma, a pioneer in the PIM space, was the first company to create and popularize this increasingly indispensable solution when it launched Project Center in 2004.
“But we don’t want to be a monolithic solution,” says Newforma Solutions Engineer Tom Maleski, who is also a former client. “We’re building out connectors so we can connect to other best-in-class solutions in the workplace.”
With 122,000 users at more than 1,200 architecture, engineering, and construction companies worldwide, Newforma’s software has so far managed three million projects, a billion emails, 44 million transmittals, 24 million file transfers, 6 million submittals and seven billion files.
Here’s what Maleski had to say about how Project Center works and the positive impact it can have.
How does Project Center help organize project data?
Project Center is a technology overlay that sits on top of your current data, so we’re not moving your data and we’re not ingesting your data, as other software solutions out there do. Your data stays where you currently have it, be it traditional file servers or in the cloud. And it remains organized the way you’re accustomed to.
Newforma’s software scans and pre-indexes the data, so it’s quick and easy to access with a simple search—kind of like Googling something.
Newforma is a server-based client solution, so it doesn’t have access to your information or hold your data hostage. The Project Center server resides in your environment and links everything under one roof so you avoid having a bunch of disconnected solutions that don’t communicate with one another.
When is Project Center best deployed, and what types of firms should use it?
We are really geared for the AECO space, with clients that have anywhere from five users to more than 1,000, so the software is adaptable to many types of offices. A small office has the same issues a large office has, just on a different scale. Newforma’s software is set up to help out in any situation, big or small.
How does Newforma’s software help enhance the performance of architecture and engineering firms?
One area is email management. As much as companies try not to rely on email, it’s still a big part of their day-to-day business. They’re receiving emails from numerous sources for projects, and maybe some of those emails aren’t going to the right people. With a tool like Project Center, I can add email chains to the project database so everybody on my internal project team can access the correspondence.
Another benefit has to do with continuity. Project teams are sometimes organic in that they change hands, so the people who start a project may not be the ones who finish it. With Project Center, someone can jump into an ongoing project and get up-to-speed quickly by being able to see all of the email conversations that have taken place, because Project Center stores that information.
There are also benefits to the CA (construction administration) phase in terms of RFIs and being able to receive submittals, whether from an email or our Info Exchange platform—a web-based portal and communication platform for your project that internal and external team members have access to.
We also connect to third-party platforms such as Newforma ConstructEx, or Procore construction management software. You want to have a standardized, repeatable process for your internal workflow. Newforma allows you to do that.
No matter how you’re receiving that data, the next step in the process of when I start to initiate that RFI or submittal is a standardized process and let the software connect the pieces. It’s going to automatically create those submittal logs, where we can automatically record the resolutions and steps in that process. It also records that data when you send it out.
How does Project Center’s coordination capabilities save companies time and money?
The majority of assigned tasks in the system—like submittals and RFIs—can have reminders attached to them. Or I can enter due dates for deliverables on the project calendar, set reminders, and broadcast it out to the stakeholders.
We also notify stakeholders through email when things are coming due or when they’re overdue. This way you’re always in communication about where you stand on any given project.
In terms of time savings, if you save just 15 minutes a week per user and figure out what that employee is costing you overall, I guarantee your savings is going to be greater than the cost of Newforma’s software.
What’s a good real-life example of Project Center in action?
One of the project managers at my former firm asked if I remembered sending a design package to a client on a specific day. Because that client was saying they’d never received anything and was refusing to pay a substantial invoice as a result. So I told my former colleague to go into Newforma’s Info Exchange—that’s where you can send and receive data—and do a search for that submission. Once he confirmed that I’d sent it, he was also able to look at the attached files, take screenshots of those files, and send them to the client who wouldn’t pay the invoice. Two days later he called me and said, “Thank you. They paid the invoice.” If I had sent that information through traditional email, it likely would have been inaccessible or deleted after I left the company and my account was deactivated. Thanks to Newforma’s software, they got the money they were owed.