I had a demonstration of iExtranet, a competitively-priced SaaS building and construction solution from Paris-based cloud storage company oodrive.com, this morning. The company mainly provides back-up services and online file-sharing solutions, and the iExtranet platform, which also has a variant for use by businesses in the advertising market, is used by some well-known international contracting organisations including Bouygues, Vinci and Bechtel, as well as numerous domestic customers (listing here).
Essentially, it acts as an online document library to share and collaborate upon drawings, images or documents, whatever their size or format. The interface (available in 11 languages) is elegant and straightforward, and the folders-based system is intuitive to use – within 20 minutes I was creating user accounts, granting user access and notification rights, sharing documents with other users, and viewing on-screen action-tracking reports.
The browser-based system is also accessible via Apple, Blackberry and Android mobile devices, with efficient downloads of the relevant apps supported by on-screen QR (quick response) codes (below). A WebSynchro application allows users to ensure their locally stored folders can be synchronised with the online versions, and PDFs can be protected, even remotely, using iPDF functionality (useful where, for example, confidential financial information might be exchanged).
The platform has a CAD drawing viewer and audio and video streaming built into the platform too, and is competitively priced at £190 (€240) per calendar month per platform. Each platform administrator can add an unlimited number of users (an Excel import process is available to speed up this process). My demonstration host, Sophie Hosteing, told me that most construction customers set up iExtranet to manage all users across a single project, but that it could also be used to manage multiple projects within a single environment if required.
As well as its Paris office, oodrive has offices in Spain, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and Singapore. The company also has a London office, and was considering marketing iExtranet more aggressively in the UK architecture, engineering and construction market.
It is a competitively priced product which may be attractive to organisations which want the benefits of a simple, folder-based solution with little training requirement, without all the “bells and whistles” of more complex construction collaboration platforms such as 4Projects, Conject, Autodesk Buzzsaw, Asite, Woobius or ProjectCenter (all mentioned as potential competitors by Sophie). Indeed, I was told one French contractor had opted for iExtranet ahead of 4Projects to manage a scheme in Singapore as it did all the things they wanted without having to pay for functionality that wouldn’t be used.