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Jan 06 2012

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Simple AEC collaboration, plus administration?

Two emails arrived overnight: one from a generic collaboration provider and one from a small construction micro-business looking for a low-cost SaaS-based project delivery solution that could be used to manage numerous small domestic projects and support all the back-office, contact management, time-sheet and project accounting needs of the business.

As I read this second email (from a writer in the southern hemisphere), various packages initially sprang to mind only to be discounted as I read further requirements. I have looked at various simple low-cost SaaS collaboration solutions (eg: Collabor8onlinepostWoobiuspost), but, apart from the US-oriented MyOnlineToolbox.com (post), few that I have seen also offer the in-house administration functions. In the end, I suggested the writer have a look at intranet-type applications such as Union Square’s Workspace, as the company also offers a Workspace Mini version aimed at SMEs (in September 2010, Union Square acquired Archetype, which focused on providing email, drawing, job costing and fee management solutions to SME firms of professionals; post). However, this is not a hosted, SaaS system – the SME would need to deploy it on an appropriately resourced server, etc; and Union Square suggests the package would cost from around £10,000 to implement a 10-user set-up (more than half this figure is consultancy support).

Another alternative might be to use Microsoft SharePoint, and there are various packages that support the needs of architecture, engineering and construction project team members (Cadac Organice, for example – offered by AEC Docuflow in Australia; post).

HyperOffice

Which brings me to HyperOffice (“Collaboration Made Simple”). It makes no pretence to be a construction industry solution, but it offers SaaS-based document management, intranet/extranet workspaces, shared calendars and project management. Sadly, no integrated financial management tools, and I suspect its ability to manage collaboration on construction drawings will be limited, but it is relatively low-cost: enterprise collaboration packages start from $15/user/month.

Have I missed a SaaS product that combines good levels of construction collaboration functionality for dispersed SME teams with back-office administration functionality – and is low-cost? If you know one, please let me know or comment below.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2012/01/simple-aec-collaboration-plus-administration/

6 comments

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  1. @tonyitsadiddle

    Dont forget Asite Key Lite – you can download a free three month trial at asite.com

  2. Paul Wilkinson

    Thanks, Tony. I would be interested to know how far Asite Key Lite supports the back-office administration, invoicing, etc? If limited, could the customer use Asite’s AppBuilder to develop something?
    Paul

  3. Tony

    Paul – Asite Key Procurement gives you a complete purchase to pay solution, for both buyer and supplier. Which is totally integrated to your cBIM interface. You should watch our next BIMinar – http://www.asite.com/index.php/company/events/2012/02/01/live-webinar-compatibility-and-collaboration1/

  4. @tonyitsadiddle

    Paul – Asite already connects the ERP system of the buyer to the Sales Order Management system of the supplier, seamlessly. Did you know that the average value of a PO in our industry is only £240 and it costs £80 to raise!!! When using collaboration technology, the PO value becomes much bigger and costs pennies.

  5. Paul Wilkinson

    I know Asite has long had transaction-handling capability as part of its e-procurement stack, but if I (or my enquirer) wanted a low-cost starter solution (ie: Key Lite), procurement management is not included – at least according to the Key comparison chart, any way. Many small businesses will just be looking for simple contact management, time-sheet and project accounting tools alongside file management.

    1. @tonyitsadiddle

      You’re right, we are very transparent with our pricing, which sometimes leads to confusion. You can get going with a world-class solution (I would say that ;))for as little as £5 per month. As you know Paul, that’s the great thing about Asite’s SaaS offering – you get access to state of the art solutions for a tiny proportion of what it takes to pull it altogether.

  1. If you really, really don’t want SaaS … | Extranet Evolution

    […] While I am a champion of Software-as-a-Service and I spend a lot of my time looking at SaaS-based solutions for construction collaboration, I appreciate there will always be people for whom keeping things within the company IT infrastructure, or paying once up-front rather than by pay-as-you-go subscription, is preferable. For such people in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) sector, there are, for example, MS SharePoint-based solutions (eg: Cadac Organice – post), and Union Square’s Workspace (post). […]

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