AECbytes‘ Lachmi Khemlani has written an interesting and detailed review of a US-developed Software-as-a-Service project information management solution (PIM) called TonicDM. (She distinguishes between PIM and project management solutions, such as Oracle Aconex, Procore, etc: “The basic difference is that PIM manages the large volumes of information associated with a project, whereas PM manages the actual project—its design and construction—itself.”)
Based in Los Angeles, California, TonicDM was founded in 2016 by a former Gehry and Gensler executive Reg Prentice (now CEO) and a technologist, now CTO, Chris Pinckney (whose recent history includes spells at Riverbed and RedSky – the latter is now part of Presidio, and not to be confused with UK-based construction software vendor RedSky IT). The TonicDM solution – the DM comes from ‘document management’ – was born out of Prentice’s experiences with Newforma’s PIM product Project Center while at Gensler (the Newforma application started as an on-premise solution, and only later added cloud connectivity to its capabilities – post).
TonicDM aims to be “simple and easy”, and is tightly integrated with Microsoft’s Outlook email application (and the rest of the Office 365 ecosystem). It manages and tracks transmittals of large files, and has an RFI and submittal management system customised to the needs of design teams (with Procore and email integrations to manage contractor communications). Prices start from US$15 per user per month; the RFI and submittal management comes in a contract administration (Standard + CA) package costing US$30 per user per month. According to Khemlani, TonicDM is also beta-testing a NLP (natural language processing) capability to undertake sentiment analysis on emails and gain deeper insights into projects (the second time in a week I’ve heard NLP mentioned; it is also something being explored by Viewpoint – post).
How simple and easy TonicDM remains is open to question. Once solutions start to become embedded in users’ organisations, demands for new features start to grow, as do calls for wider integrations with other platforms used either by the users or by other organisations their firms are working with. And, as with other solutions that are document-centric, I also wonder about their long-term applicability when projects involve building information modelling and wider digital collaboration.
Update (2 June 2019) – The team at TonicDM has responded to this blog post with a post of their own.