Software Collaboration for Modern Projects

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Collaboration in one form or another touches everything we do in life. It’s appropriate, then, that collaboration has become more and more prominent and important in our daily work processes. Collaboration among project teams reduces confusion on a project, oftentimes in the model stage before the project even starts. This leads to a better end product with less effort and money spent on avoiding risk. It also enables teams to focus on the best possible outcomes, including completing a project on time and within budget.

In the Bridging the Gap podcast episode “Matt Dillon, Master Collaborator,” Matt talks about changes in the AEC industry and how collaboration fits into the big picture. For a look back at what was trending in collaboration just last year and continues to gain momentum, check out the on-demand webinar “Collaboration Trends of 2019.” John Ade and Christopher Riddell discuss improving workflows, generative and iterative design, visual programming, virtual reality, and augmented reality.

Collaboration is increasingly important in this day and age as we become more globally connected. The collaboration tools enabled by cloud computing, as well as constantly improving internet connections, enable a better client experience, more creativity, problem-solving energy, and a more educated, skilled and engaged project team. Learn some collaboration tips gleaned from other companies in your industry in the blog “10 Things Your Competitors Can Teach You about Collaboration.”

“Working with someone to produce something” hasn’t always gone smoothly, but it has brought us to the threshold of producing a building using all-digital processes. Thankfully we’ve come a long way in the collaboration process since 3,000 BC, as detailed in the blog “The Evolution of Collaboration.”

Some people want to work more closely on projects, they want to venture into the high-trust environment, but historical barriers exist. Over time those barriers will erode away, and eventually the passion to produce a superior project will come through and overcome mistrust. There are collaboration myths that need to be debunked in order to push the AEC industry forward. What about intellectual property? Does it help companies win work? What are the implications of sharing models and learning to trust in the workflows around collaboration – or should we be calling the process cooperation instead?

In the above episode, John Ade and Christina Holden talk about the differences in working with shared goals as opposed to personal goals. Implementing BIM is an opportunity to collaborate at a higher level with the architect, contractor, owner, engineers, and consultants. When information is at everyone’s fingertips at a moment’s notice, the result is fewer errors. Couldn’t we all use that?

And speaking of historical trust barriers, do architects and contractors ever get along? Construction Brothers podcasters Tyler and Eddie Campbell discuss collaboration challenges in “The AEC Disruptors: Why Can’t We Get Along?” With so many myths surrounding the professions of architecture and contracting, it’s no wonder people have the impression that they don’t get along. Maybe they don’t know each other very well – or maybe a “hate” culture has developed that needs to be addressed so the ultimate project goals can align. The Campbells discuss risk, profit, paper trails, feedback, and the implications of change orders that can save money.

As today’s projects are increasingly on a fast track to develop quickly, it’s critical that all the teams are on the same page. This seems like the perfect time for increased collaboration. Trends in the AEC industry are toward teams working more efficiently and coordinated on jobs that are becoming more complex with shorter completion schedules and tighter budgets. Without strong collaboration, one of the most pervasive problems companies face is the age-old challenge of working off the most current set of drawings. Join Rick Kremer as he unpacks this topic in the on-demand webcast “Bridging the Gap: The Evolution of Collaboration.”

Digital transformation is taking place no matter how we feel about it, and it’s disrupting. It’s just another type of disruption, which has been a constant throughout history. While technology moves us in directions we may not quite be ready for, good things can still emerge from the disruption. The shared pains around that reality are discussed in the Bridging the Gap episode “Shared Pains, The Power of Words and Digital Transformation.” Thought leader Nathan Wood talks about the timing of innovation, industrialized construction, disruption culture, remote collaboration, and steps you and your company can take in these times of digital interoperability.

As the most popular building information management tool in use, Autodesk Revit continues to build on previous functionality. New features and enhancements, some of which were suggested and voted upon by Revit users on the Autodesk Ideas Forum, offer better workflows for creation, optimization and connection. Revit 2021 was just launched, and it’s one of the most significant releases in years. Here are a few of our favorite features. If you’re still using Revit 2020, see some of the current trending topics.

Take it from the experts, cloud collaboration is a good thing when it’s done well, with the right tools and the right plan. You can avoid your own collaboration horrors by knowing about the most common mistakes and avoiding them. Take a lesson from Rick Kremer, collaboration expert in “Common Mistakes Using BIM 360 Design Cloud Collaboration and How to Avoid Them.“

With the Autodesk e-Book “Maximize Your Profit Margin with Design Collaboration,” you’ll get an overview of BIM, connectedness in the AEC industry, collaboration’s impact on the industry, using the cloud for design collaboration, and delivery models that work for different industry sectors.

Today’s construction projects are more complex and with shorter timelines than ever before. If your company is already using collaboration, there are a lot of moving parts as a job progresses. The team as a whole needs the best project management workflow possible to construct a successful project. See “4 Ways You Can Have Better Construction Management Workflow” to learn more about using collaboration to rein in your project’s processes:

Remote Work Capabilities

Of course there are others, so to learn what the Applied Software experts say about working remotely, access the on-demand webinar, “The Definitive Guide to Remote Collaboration: Successfully Working from Home.”

The blog series Staying Productive While Working From Home includes:

1. “How to Stay Productive While Working from Home (Part 1)”: Advice about being intentional with your time, adjusting expectations, coping with distractions, data protection, video and conference call protocols.

2. “Working From Home . . . Even for People Who Aren’t Dummies (Part 2)”: Eleven tips for making the most of your at-home work experience, including balance between work and not-work, schedules, health, communication, and phone and video no-no’s.

3. “Working From Home With My Wacky Cat (Part 3)”: How to minimize disruptions to your pet’s life while you’re working from home.

Some companies may unknowingly endanger their data when they enact rules to make it easier to work from home. The scammers are out there ready to take advantage of companies with remote workers who are putting remote desktop protocols into place without making them private. Wondering about the options? Access the on-demand webinar “Work from Home: Best Practices.”

Collaboration on jobs is important, but it can be sorely tested when working remotely. That test is exacerbated when two or more team members are also remote. In “Bite-Sized BIM: BIM Adoption, Collaboration and Best Practices,” Applied Software Senior Specialist Rick Kremer discusses the new challenges faced by architects, engineers, contractors and building owners:

  • Project complexity
  • Project handover
  • Building lifecycle
  • Performance data overload

With the advent of virtual reality and augmented reality, an incredible amount of data is available on current building projects. If you’ve been wondering how to put that data to the best use, then the solution might reside in handover of the project to the owner. Backed by years of industry know-how, Kremer offers helpful tips for making the best use of this valuable data.

Speaking of data, thanks to digital tools, laser scans, virtual reality, drone photography, and others, today’s projects are surrounded by an incredible amount of data. What you do with that data and how you protect it are key to using it successfully on the job and beyond. Listen to the Bridging the Gap podcast episode “What the Cloud and the Simpsons Have in Common” for a reality check about handling and protecting your valuable data.

Are you working from a location away from the office while using Autodesk licenses? If so, you’ll benefit from Jason Porter’s blog post “Working remotely with Autodesk Software.” He discusses downloads, installation, networks, the home-use policy, and particulars of the Autodesk license agreement.

“Clarity is our greatest power,” says Sharon DeMattia, Nevada artist and BIM collaborator. DeMattia participated in the 2019 Burning Man Festival with an art installation titled “We. The People.,” which was created through a Revit model. To learn more about this fascinating BIM-art partnership, see From Courage to Communication to Collaboration – BIM at Burning Man. And to meet the artist herself and hear what she has to say about collaboration with BIM Designs, Inc., listen to the episode Bridging the Gap: BIM to Burning Man.

Autodesk BIM 360

Architects and engineers have a unique design coordination workflow. In the e-Book Cloud Collaboration for Architects and Engineers, Matt Dillon explains BIM 360 basics, the process of uploading documents for collaboration, document management tools for reviews and issues, and model coordination options.

The BIM 360 product group has 71 notable features, from accounting integration to workflow management. Of the next two closest competitors, one has about half of those features, and the other has only nine. Comparing over three dozen construction software applications, BIM 360 has 19 of the 20 most popular features. To learn more about the best features of BIM 360, read the blog post, Getting Tired of BIM 360? 8 Things to Rekindle Your Love.

The need for speed hasn’t really changed in in the last 30 years. Everyone still wants everything yesterday. Fortunately we now have the ability to make things happen nearly instantaneously – and that is true beauty when it comes to the construction industry. See The 6 Improvements to Design Collaboration That Will Beautify Your Design Life to learn how to harness your designs using BIM 360 Design.

Collaboration could always be easier, and easier collaboration makes for better buildings, better relationships and superior projects. For more about effective collaboration you’ll benefit from the on-demand webinar Benefits of BIM 360 in Construction with Michael Reuter. Another of Michael’s on-demand webinars, BIM 360 Coordinate + BIM 360 Design Workflow, helps ensure the success of BIM implementations.

One of the most innovative and useful outgrowths of collaboration, digital twins, is just emerging. Carlos Catalan explains digital twins and collaboration in the Bridging the Gap episode Digital Twins, Collaboration and Apollo 13. Tune in to learn how generative design and digital twins promise to change the AEC industry for the better.

How about other technologies? In The AEC Disruptors: Challenges of Technology Change and Adoption, John Ade and Christopher Riddell discuss the challenges companies face when adopting new technology. When it comes to implementing Revit, some companies battle the fear of failure; others battle the fear of success.

Rabi Sidawi and Christopher Riddell discuss BIM model coordination, clash detection and interference checking in The AEC Disruptors: Not an Issue, Case Closed – BIM 360 Coordinate. Learn how we can coordinate with each other using technology that has come a long way in the past 20+ years.

Learning from experts who know your industry is the ideal way to get empowered with your projects and workflows. Registered architect Rabi Sidawi provides AEC project planning and implementation and trains AEC professionals on Autodesk BIM applications including Revit Architecture, Revit Structure, Navisworks, InfraWorks, and BIM 360. As a champion of innovation for customers, Rabi stays up to date on sustainable design developments and solutions, so his on-demand webinar The Bridge Between Civil Engineers and Architects: BIM 360, is particularly insightful about ways to reduce rework and improve coordination.

If you are new to using BIM 360 Design, you may not be aware that there are extra steps required when working on a Collaborative model in order to create backup files. For more information and instructions, see BIM 360 Design: How to Create Backups when Working on a Collaboration Central Project.

Manual data exchange among teams can become a bottleneck that threatens productivity. Autodesk Vault Professional helps streamline collaboration for civil engineering teams with bi-directional connections using BIM 360. In Maximize Your Review Process: How the Power of Vault and BIM 360 Can Work for You, Dave Morse explains the three sharing capabilities of Vault:

  1. Collaborate by reviewing and commenting on shared design views.
  2. Receive a one-time deliverable of 2D and 3D design data.
  3. Contribute in design processes through a bi-directional, triggered design data exchange.

Take an hour to listen to Dave’s webinar, and learn how to manage your engineering data and collaborate more efficiently.

If your firm has been looking into ways to build a collaborative workflow for your design and construction teams, you may want to consider the possibilities with Bluebeam Revu. Because it is so much more than a PDF markup tool, using Revu is the way professionals can get more work accomplished. In Bluebeam Bites: Collaboration on Renovating the Castle you’ll see the way collaboration helped accomplish a unique historical renovation.

Autodesk Plant 3D Collaboration

David Wolfe, renowned Plant 3D expert, describes Plant 3D configurations in this blog post: Editing Setup Files in Plant 3D Collaboration. David explains that, even with collaboration, you can use project setup to make your changes. However, for certain activities like modify the projsymbolstyle.dwg or editing isoconfig.xml’s, you might need to make changes that are not available in the project setup dialog.

If you want to change where Plant 3D stores the downloaded project when using BIM 360 to collaborate, the instructions are found in Plant 3D Collaboration Cache Location.

To move a project to the cloud, the first task after setting up your BIM 360 hub is to set up an existing project for collaboration. Rather than create a new project directly in the cloud, the workflow takes an existing project and uploads it to the cloud. To move a project to the cloud for collaboration, Create a Plant Collaboration Project.

The Plant collaboration tool is a great way to share work without having to run an on-premises tool. But with the repackaging of the BIM cloud tools, Plant users have lost a direct way to create and set up a new hub to host their collaboration projects. As described in Plant Collaboration in BIM 360 Design, Plant 3D will work with a new BIM 360 Design subscription without an existing BIM 360 Team hub.

Plant 3D guru David Wolfe talks about babysitting databases in the Bridging the Gap episode Take Your Weekend Back: Automate. You, too, can be empowered by using automation to manage your project’s databases.

Prefabrication and Modular

Prefabrication and modular construction are two of those streamlined processes that are moving to the forefront as solutions, not only in the AEC arena, but for MEP companies as well. Using Revit in the building information modeling process, companies can collaborate on prefab and modular projects for:

  • Improved productivity
  • Enhanced quality
  • More predictable schedules
  • Increased safety
  • More accurate cost estimates
  • Satisfied clients
  • Reduced construction waste

Now that Fabrication items are a big part of the Revit environment and workflows, new users have questions about how to handle these models in Navisworks. Coordination is a primary factor in your projects, so you will need to exchange models between Revit and Navisworks to manage efficiently. The ability to keep models coordinated and understanding how to move back and forth helps new users keep pace with the challenge, as explained by Applied Software Senior Specialist Gabe Hernandez in the on-demand webinar “Coordinating Between Navisworks and Fabrication Parts.”

At the forefront of collaboration is the ability to communicate efficiently among teams. Setting national standards for contractors and subcontractors presents an opportunity to ease some of the strains of collaboration by keeping everyone on the same page and working from the same playbook. The U.K. is setting an example that others can profit from, as described in “The UK’s Efforts to Set BIM Standards.”

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