Effective Design Collaboration: Cloud Storage Strategy

During the COVID-19 crisis, Autodesk offered a free license to anyone who wanted to use BIM 360. During this period, many new users grew accustomed to the rich feature set due to the low technical barrier to entry. However, the software can be expensive, and not every company has the budget or need for such a comprehensive solution. If you are in that group, you came here to read what the right solution is for you. Before answering, it is important to get in the right frame of mind and understand the following:

  • Does your Information Strategy align with your company’s growth plan?

  • As your organization grows and your customers have a greater need for even more data how do you plan to scale up?

  • How does your organization share project information?

  • What tools are you already using?

First, understand the context

Today, it is almost unimaginable to not be able to quickly access data and information you need. Visiting a new place – there’s a map with more information than physically possible to publish in the dash of your car. At the grocery store and want to know how to cook something new – you have a direct line to recipes from Michelin Guide chefs from across the world. Want to know what to wear when you wake up – you can just ask Alexa, Siri, or Google without even sitting up.

How does this compare when you are working on a project?

  • How long does it take to load a model?

  • How long does it take to gather the reference documents needed?

  • How often do you find yourself recounting quantities?

Data and information management in the construction space is born from the legacy of physical design studios. People have been designing and building for the entirety of recorded history. It is no surprise then, that the traditional way we manage documents is simply a digitized version of this approach.

A contemporary approach to document management

Reusing existing infrastructure can make sense, but often comes at the cost of using older less efficient standards. We should think of information and data management the same way, have an elevated perspective of our data ecosystem. Most documents in a corporate environment are managed using a shared file structure to maintain consistency and avoid re-inventing the wheel. Many companies already leverage some sort of cloud drive service: SharePoint, Box, SAP, Dropbox, Google Drive are only some of the commonly used options.

It is much more difficult to leverage many of these services when it comes to architectural models or other design-focused documents that contain a large amount of system content. Simply put, they were not designed with the right workflow in mind. Fortunately, design-specific cloud-based document management systems such as BIM 360 cloud provide many additional features that can supercharge your workflow. Whether it’s version control or shared access, if the feature set of your cloud drive platform is foreign to your company, it’s time to dig a little deeper.

Ready to get started? Here is our quick checklist:

  1. Is your company still attaching files to emails?

    If so, have you considered using embedded links that point to the source file?

  2. How often does someone ask “where can I find X document?”.

    If this is happening more than you like, search and document tagging might be good features to use.

  3. Is there file duplication between your network drives and cloud drives?

    This is a strong indication that there are some process corrections.

Asynchronous communication

What is the right solution for your organization? Even before Covid, we increasingly worked with partners all over the world, resulting in calls that happened at all hours of the day. For us, it’s all about getting everyone on the same page.

If you don’t have the budget to pay for high-priced tools, we suggest using what you have. Revit Server can be a good option for collaboration at a fraction of the cost of BIM 360. Collaborative editing tools such as Notion, Miro, and Google Docs allow our teams in several countries and continents to continuously plan and discuss projects. Models are at the heart of our projects, and this ability to share and edit them drives our efficiency.

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