The California-based Plannerly SaaS platform provides a ‘virtual BIM expert’ to help teams create and deliver leaner, smarter BIM processes and outcomes.
While based in California, BIM management SaaS software provider Plannerly has some strong UK connections, having been started by some of the ex-Graphisoft people who founded Vico Software in Woking, Surrey in the late-2000s (2007 post). Vico was acquired by US giant Trimble in November 2012, as Trimble expanded its software portfolio to cover more of the design-build-operate cycle coverage of its portfolio. Trimble created a ‘Trimble Buildings’ offering, contrasting its ‘open BIM’ approach with the proprietary offerings of competing solutions from Autodesk, Bentley and others (post).
Extranet Evolution talked to Plannerly co-founder Clive Jordan about his latest business, which was previously known as LOD Planner.
In a BIM context, LOD stands variously for ‘level of detail’ or ‘level of development’. In 2013, the American Institute of Architects published a ‘Level of Development’ framework, with levels defined on a progressive scale. This ranges from LOD 100, symbolic representation of model elements (the ‘concept’ stage in UK parlance), through to LOD 500, field-verified representations of model elements (‘as built’). However, ‘LOD Planner’ was, Jordan said, not particularly helpful branding; it was jargon focused on a problem – defining levels of development – not on delivering a successful business outcome.
With co-founder David Porter, and with inputs from former Vico colleague
Plannerly (dashboard right) essentially comprises five modules that support its ‘sweetspot’: BIM implementation in compliance with ISO 19650, its various national supporting annexes and guidance, and other international standards, classification systems, object libraries, etc. The interface is currently provided in 20 different languages (a single project might have users spread across multiple countries, but each user can tailor the interface to their local needs). Users can also import their own templates of the various elements, building a powerful resource for efficient planning and collaboration aligned with users’ corporate needs. “We try to make it super easy to start, with easy drag-and-drop tools to help people assemble their plans, schedules and other deliverables.”
“A guiding principle is that every piece of information has a customer, and someone tasked with putting that information in place,” Jordan continues. “Plannerly provides a lean, smart tool to manage those information transactions and workflows.
- Plan simplifies the development of BIM execution plans and contracts.
- Scope provides a visual and collaborative framework to define geometry, documentation and information requirements.
- Schedule enables teams to collaboratively build a timeline for their BIM process delivery.
- Track deploys a ‘lean’ approach to project management using Kanban boards to monitor progress on key tasks.
- Verify (right) simplifies BIM compliance, connecting models and the client’s asset and information requirements.
Users can start with a single module and then add others as they need them. Plannerly’s pricing is flexible – users can get started with a single project (from US$39 per calendar month), however the most popular option are its Company plans with BIM 360 add-on and the customer’s logo and colours.
Customers include architects and contractors but also airport operators, universities, and retail chains. “We are attracting owner-operators who appreciate BIM, and who have a long-term interest in information management,” Jordan says. “Our platform can also be integrated with common data environment solutions deployed on their projects. We are taking an extremely neutral position and have no ambition to become a CDE provider. Plannerly can, for example, share information to and from Autodesk’s BIM 360.” (Discussions are under way with other CDE providers.) Similarly, Plannerly is not competing with model checking and validation applications such as Solibri, but looking to integrate with various tools.
Jordan sums up: “Plannerly is both a tool and a process. We provide that virtual BIM expert who can look over your shoulder and keep you on track“.