Shining a light on streamlined project flows

Nick Myall
Monday 17 Jul 2017

Bluebeam Revu will be showcased at this October’s UK Construction Week. Here WAN has a Q&A with Sasha Reed, VP Strategic Development at Bluebeam, Inc

Since 2002, Bluebeam, Inc. has made smart, simple desktop, mobile and cloud-based solutions for paperless workflows streamlining projects for architects, engineers and contractors. Bluebeam Revu, award-winning for digital markup and collaboration, is trusted by over one million individuals in over 130 countries. By utilising PDF, Revu enables a common data environment that allows project teams to share metadata, hyperlinks, bookmarks, images, file attachments and 3D model information downstream. In addition, Bluebeam Studio connects project partners worldwide in real time on the same set of centralised documents, while Revu for Mac and iPad allow all project partners to share, create and collaborate on their desired platform.

What are the key incentives/benefits for an architect's firm with tight budgets to implement expensive BIM technology?

Spending money on technology, regardless of cost, will not guarantee that an architectural firm will realise benefits unless they first identify what part of their business they want to improve. BIM aside, the digitalisation of the modern workplace has changed the way people communicate, collaborate and share information.  

According to a recent McKinsey report on “Accelerating the digitization of business processes,” customers “are demanding from companies in many industries a radical overhaul of business processes.” For the design and building industry specifically, the BIM mandate creates a clear target of where to begin.  

Improving internal and external communication methods by leveraging the cloud for real- time collaboration is a core component of BIM. Evaluating your current methods for managing communication and measuring the time it takes for questions and responses is a great way to see how the right technology can create immediate benefits.  

Here are three key tips to guide your journey:

Start small: Focus on one business process at a time. For instance, leverage cloud- based collaboration technology to improve response times and clarity of communication.

Create pilot groups to test and measure results from implementing new technology: Using a small test group, justify the spend you need to quantify the benefits by measuring old versus new processes and comparing the efficiency and quality of both. 

Update existing workflows: As you test technology and learn what works best for your firm, task pilot groups with documenting updated workflows to aid in larger deployment and retraining later.

Identifying what you want to improve will help you avoid tackling too much too soon. Looking for technology specifically designed to modernise the design and build industry will help you avoid overcomplicating the process.

What is the UK BIM Level 2 mandate and how does Bluebeam technology fit into it/meet its requirements?

At its core, the UK BIM Level 2 mandate seeks to improve the flow and access to up-to-date design and build information. Bluebeam Revu was originally designed to allow design and construction professionals to digitally redline drawings. Over the last 15 years, the product further evolved to take redlining drawings to the cloud, allowing multiple reviewers access to the same set of drawings, collaborating in real time, even when working in the field. By using customisable industry-standard markup symbols in a cloud-based environment, accuracy is increased and response times are greatly reduced. And because all of the markups are being made on open-format PDF files, specialised software or technical skills aren’t required. If you can view a PDF and add text, you can collaborate in Revu.  

How does Bluebeam Revu 2017 benefit architects in the early stages of a project?

One of the key components to the design review process is keeping track of who said what, when, and in which revision of the drawing. Communicating this outside of the firm with consultants, owners and other stakeholders can prove challenging and costly if specialised software is required to view, markup and comment on early stage design ideas. 

Bluebeam Revu allows you to publish design information to PDF, where you can invite outside collaborators to review, comment and approve initial design decisions. It won’t require them to purchase costly technology or learn new, customised programs. Many of them are already leveraging PDF to sign contracts and improve invoices. Using PDF to approve design decisions is a logical next step in the project approval process. Each markup placed on the PDF automatically tracks who said what and when in the context of the drawing itself, not in a separate Excel sheet, so there’s no transcribing necessary. You can focus on the design while the technology automatically keeps track of markups and comments for greater accountability.

How does Bluebeam Revu 2017 allow architects to collaborate with fellow project stakeholders, i.e, contractors, engineers, developers? 

Bluebeam Revu allows design and construction professionals to view, comment, highlight and add information to a PDF drawing. By utilising PDF, Revu enables a common data environment that allows design and construction professionals to share metadata, hyperlinks, bookmarks, images, attachments and 3D data downstream. By leveraging the cloud, teams can collaborate within the context of the 2D or 3D design itself, eliminating long email threads or redundant spreadsheets and giving architects transparent accountability throughout the design review process. 

Will architects save money and time using Bluebeam Revu 2017?

Going back to the McKinsey report, the need for companies to modernise their communication and collaboration processes is no longer a question of if, but of when and how. As proof, design and construction firms have reported their savings in modernising their workflows using Bluebeam Revu. Revu users have reported 70% faster takeoffs, 90% snagging accuracy, 40% time reduction for inspection and signoff.  

The architecture firm that initiates the digitalisation of design workflows beginning with improving communication is able to quickly see benefits and build confidence to know they can tackle other, more complex business practices.  

How is an investment in a product like Bluebeam Revu 2017 realised over the lifetime of a building?

As an owner takes over the maintenance of a new building, their facility managers are only able to do their jobs effectively if they are giving access to the building information. This includes 2D drawings, warranty information and as-built comments from the design and construction team.  Many contractors are leveraging the PDF file format to hand over operational manuals with warranty information linked directly to 2D drawing information. By accessing sets of PDF drawings stored in the cloud, facility managers are able to access warranty information stored within the PDF itself. Markups gathered during the design and building phase can also be archived for future viewing by the facility managers. Most importantly, this information can be accessed in an open format they are already familiar with and doesn’t require specialised training to use. This greatly improves the quality of care a building owner can expect from their facility managers over the lifetime of the building. 

Sasha Reed, Vice President of Strategic Development, Bluebeam, Inc.

As Vice President of Strategic Development at Bluebeam, Sasha Reed connects with design and construction industry leaders to promote collaborative, digital ecosystems using the open file format, PDF. Sasha is known industry-wide as a “conversation facilitator” for her work hosting roundtables, creating platforms and authoring content on StrXur and the BD+C Magazine Digital COM Blog to foster ideas that advance the industry. 

Sasha has been a featured presenter at numerous national and international conferences, including the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA), Federal Project Delivery Symposium, and the NTI Danish BIM Conference. She was recently featured in the UK’s Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) roundtable on BIM, as well as the BIM+ webinar on “Real Life Applications of BIM.”

Sasha is an advisor and founding member of the CPCoalition, a grassroots effort to provide a common industry framework from which to create and maintain construction PDF documents. She also served on the City College of San Francisco BIM Industry Council and is Secretary to the BOD for the buildingSMART alliance, council to the National Institute of Building Sciences.

Click here for more details on UK Construction Week 10-12 October at the NEC Birmingham.

Nick Myall

News editor

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