Ralph Grabowski at WorldCAD Access alerts us to the change of name of Belgium-based CAD vendor BricsCAD to Bricsys. He also briefly mentions collaboration vendor BricsNet, but doesn’t delve into the history – which is quite interesting from a construction collaboration point of view.
To recap, BricsNet was originally founded as BricsWorks in 1986 by architect Erik De Keyser, developing modelling software that, I believe, later formed the basis of Bentley Microstation Triforma. During the late 1990s, as the dot.com boom arrived, BriscNet was launched to provide internet-based software to manage the complete design and construction process; its Building|Center and Project|Center ASP products were launched in 2000 (the website had a fantastic Flash animation, I remember). Two years later, in January 2002, De Keyser led a management buy-out and formed BricsCAD (“the real alternative to AutoCAD”) to develop its CAD software portfolio, leaving BricsNet to focus on its workplace management and project collaboration (‘extranet’) applications.
Bricsys is competing directly with BricsNet in the collaboration field. It has launched Vondle: “the first professional Internet based communication, collaboration and project management platform allowing unlimited use for a yearly flat fee”. Sound familiar? Strictly speaking, it is re-launching a product previously branded as Vista; I wrote about the branding some 18 months ago (BricsCad Vista v. Microsoft Vista) – the product was rebranded in February 2006.
Ralph also wrote about the pricing back in 2005 too, identifying the different costs charged to different AEC disciplines and how they ramp up at different rates over a three-year period. I have just done the same, based on a 140-strong business (an arbitrary figure chosen because I notice Hochtief has 140 UK people – see previous post), and Vondle’s calculator returned the following annual subscription figures:
- Architects: £4390 for year one, £7060 for year two, £10220 for year three
- Engineer: £9130, £11750, £14280
- Contractor: £6180, £7270, £8250
- Project development: £14070, £18280, £22390
- Property owner: £7470, £8460, £9310
- Manufacturer: £9660, £11560, £13280
“it is unique in its pricing and licensing model. It is licensed at a yearly flat fee, regardless [of] the number of projects or the number of users you have on the system. The price is made up by two parameters: the kind of industry your company is active in and the size of your company by the total number of corporate employees.”
I am not sure the model is that unique. Some UK vendors, for example, already charge their customers a set subscription fee without regard to the number of end-users, volume of storage, etc, and will consider corporate deals which allow use on all projects for a fixed term. Vondle also talks about discounted rates for the first couple of years; again, some vendors already offer similar deals, periodically increasing the fee as certain pre-agreed thresholds of use are passed.
One key area, however, is missing. I could see no mention on Vondle’s website of the costs of consultancy or training. It is difficult to imagine any firm starting to use a collaboration platform without vendor support to configure the system to meet their requirements, training of key users and ongoing helpdesk support. For prospective customers, these costs need to be ascertained and added to the licence fees.