de Kieviet thinks SharePoint is the future

To paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davies, Well, he would, wouldn’t he! Following my recent blog post about his move to Netherlands-based SharePoint reseller Cadac Organice, Gert-Jan de Kieviet (right) talked to me about his move from Sword-CTSpace and his somewhat controversial view that Microsoft SharePoint is the future of construction collaboration.

BuildOnline and CTSpace

In the mid-2000s, Gert was MD Europe at BuildOnline during the final months of Mark Suster’s reign. After Suster’s departure – taking “BuildOnline Lite” (ie: Koral) to (post) – Gert believes it suffered due to dithering among its post-merger leaders as they tried to sort out the future product strategy. Then its second owner Sword developed a new Software-as-a-Service platform (FusionLive – post) but on-premise solutions (formerly Cimage) turned out to be much more attractive, especially for the owner/operators – a market that initially Sword targeted heavily with its SaaS products. This experience obviously coloured Gert’s view of SaaS solutions and influenced his decision to join Cadac Organice.

SharePoint is the future

I used SharePoint for an intranet project in the early 2000s – and hated it! Gert shared my view that early versions of SharePoint were poor, but he believes SharePoint 2007 marked a turning point. “I now think SharePoint is the iPhone of the ECM (entrprise content management) world,” he said. “There is now a thriving market in which you can find plug-in applications to meet just about any need,” he continued, then enthusing about SharePoint tools that allow architecture, engineering and construction users to check-in/check-out documents and drawings, to manage workflows and transmittals, and to manage drawing mark-up and commenting. He told me Cadac’s Organice Explorer also provides integration with AutoCAD, MicroStation and Revit, providing a solution for Building Information Modelling (BIM) based on Microsoft SharePoint (a key requirement, he said: “now, every third client wants BIM”).

Once enthusiastic about the potential of Software-as-a-Service, Gert said his final months at Sword-CTSpace revealed a considerable demand from on-premise solutions among owner-operators, and we debated the pros and cons of SaaS versus on-premise in terms of their cost and flexibility. In his new Cadac role, of course, he said he was now “100% convinced about the advantages of on-premise solutions”, and said customer interest in SharePoint was stimulating 10-15 sales leads a week at Cadac Organice. But he did admit that, for the project delivery requirements of a dispersed team, there would still be demand for SaaS-based delivery – which conveniently took us on to Cadac’s latest news.

SharePoint in the cloud

Our conversation coincided with the Autodesk Cloud announcement, and simultaneously Cadac issued a news release saying it had teamed up with tier 1 hosting provider Rackspace to offer SharePoint-based engineering document management and control “in the cloud”. As companies are not always able to set up and maintain an on-premise SharePoint infrastructure, or may need a project environment at short notice, Cadac Organice can now offer clients a hosted environment with the option to revert from SaaS to on-premise at a later date if required. The cloud option has been available to customers since 1 September 2011 and is already being used by companies like FMC Technologies, Weatherford, Royal Haskoning and VolkerInfra (Cadac hosted a webinar about its cloud solution on 4 October 2011).

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4 pings

  1. Paul, interesting post, but there are a lot of questions about what you would have to do to get results from a SharePoint deployment outside the enterprise, in a multi-party collaboration environment. It’s not just about SaaS or not SaaS, but a range of other issues that determine the value the project gets from a solution. (Process management, communications, user training and support, etc etc)

    Working for Aconex, you’d guess my view on this, but considering your experience in the space, what’s yours? I always like your “My View” conclusions in your post.


  2. Thanks, David.

    My own views of SharePoint are coloured by prolonged, poor experiences with the product in the early-mid 2000s. Its obvious shortcomings as a platform for construction collaboration were clearly what stimulated various providers to develop tools to make it more usable. However, for many businesses hosting such systems, there will still be security issues allowing supply chain partners access to the platform through their firewall, ensuring end-users know how to use it effectively, providing support or helpdesk services if they can’t, maintaining sufficient bandwidth and processing power to ensure system responsiveness and uptime, etc.

    I think these shortcomings are what Cadac Organice aim to overcome by offering it as a hosted service. There are many businesses which have invested heavily in Microsoft products and who trust the brand, so Cadac will be able to capitalise upon such prospects’ enthusiasm for Microsoft, while helping them deliver a more effective platform for collaboration. And the opportunity to, say, start with a SaaS implementation to deliver a project and then bring the data in-house for future facilities management, operation and maintenance will appeal to some owners.

    Cadac’s “SharePoint in the cloud” offering, though, will ultimately be competing with other cloud-based solutions, and – as you suggest – it will not just be about what the software does, or the price. It will be about the service supplied around the software. Vendors like Aconex, 4Projects, BIW et al, have earned their market positions by providing a complete package that addresses the needs of entire project teams, providing consultancy services to configure the platform, train users, integrate with existing tools (eg: email, design office tools) and deliver ongoing support, and maintaining high levels of service availability, reliability and security. Service neutrality will also be a consideration – Aconex, et al, usually sit ‘outside’ the project team providing an information management infrastructure that is not owned by any vested interest. Just as rivals had to do when they started, Cadac Organice will, therefore, need to build a credible track record in delivering its ‘SharePoint-as-a-Service’ offering – including the vital people and process-related consultancy services.

  3. We have quickly implemented a SharePoint based document transmittal solution for a customer using out of the box SharePoint 2010 and Nintex Workflow 2010. This solution was jointly presented with the customer at the International SharePoint Conference 2012. The solution enables:

    •Automating the publishing of transmittals to an extranet
    •Ensuring that the correct versions of documents are seen by the right people
    •Automatically generating emails to clients detailing the contents of each transmittal
    •Setting alerts to notify when transmittals are updated
    •Automatically tracking client acceptance of transmittals

    Please follow the link below to see the case study and don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or would like to arrange a demo.


    Julian (The UK’s Leading SharePoint Business Application Specialists)

  1. […] on-premise (Fusion Enterprise) document management solutions – although, by some accounts (former MD Gert-Jan de Kieviet, for example), the on-premise offering was proving more attractive than the remotely hosted option. […]

  2. […] highlights its introduction of a cloud-based solution – discussed in October 2011 with Gert-Jan de Kieviet, right, following his recruitment from Sword-CTSpace […]

  3. […] (AEC) sector, there are, for example, MS SharePoint-based solutions (eg: Cadac Organice – post), and Union Square’s Workspace […]

  4. […] Asked what other CRM systems people had experienced, one delegate volunteered that his business had used the cloud-based Salesforce (which also has a private social network, Chatter) but found it “too complex” and “not user-friendly”. One of the m-hance people suggested this was because Salesforce hadn’t been “verticalised” for the architecture, engineering and construction sector (a similar issue when it comes to making Sharepoint work as a pan-project team construction collaboration tool – partly addressed by similar value-added resellers, such as Cadac, who provide AEC templates so that SharePoint is quickly “construction-flavoured” – 2011 post). […]

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