Newforma, once mainly known for its on-premise project information management, is extending its mobile and cloud construction collaboration offerings.
New Hampshire, US-based construction software vendor Newforma has today announced three new mobile apps, plus an update to an existing app, to improve on-site project information management for users of its on-premise Newforma Project Center (release 10.2) and its Newforma Project Cloud solution (as mentioned in my February 2014 update).
Newforma Mobile apps
The new apps, which I previewed last week with director of product marketing Dave Wagner and Michael DeSouza, director of product design, reflect a shift from activity-centric tools to ones that span the process of data capture and review. They new tools are:
- Newforma Tasks app (top right), which provides an interactive dashboard for assigning, reviewing, and updating project quality control tasks, such as work-to-complete and punch lists (aka defects management).
- Newforma Capture app (right), which provides a single place for capturing project data, including text, photos (with markup) and metadata, as the user walks the site. By default, the app stores data locally until it is uploaded, enabling faster, more continuous data capture (more urgent items can also be uploaded immediately if required and if connectivity is available)
- Newforma Project Email, which provides instant access – similar to the Newforma Windows client – to emails that team members have filed using Newforma Project Center.
Tasks and Capture are both available for iOS devices, with Android versions planned for later this year; Project Email is already available on both iOS and Android. Meanwhile, a new version of the (currently iPad-only) Newforma Plans app now allows users to create and locate field notes, punch list items, and action items on relevant drawings.
Last week’s preview let me see how quickly Plans could be rendered on an iPad, with a “treasure map” thumbnail giving context to any action items or markups that might have been created. Coloured pins help identify different items according to their status; a ‘Favorites’ feature allows users to create personalised lists of sheets that they use frequently, while – for cross-team use – a ‘hyperlink’ feature can be used to build relationships between different drawings for rapid access and cross-referencing (interestingly, adding hyperlinks is only available on the iPad, not on the desktop view).
New Project Cloud functionality
Since its acquisition of Attolist nearly two years ago, Newforma has been building more SaaS capability into its product suite, particularly to support users who may not be using the on-premise applications, and to support users of its field management mobile apps. In short, it is building a suite that provides a ‘single version of the truth’ for project users, helping eliminate duplication and data entry errors.
Alongside Communications, Document Management and Construction Admin, a new tab has been added at the top of the browser-based tool to cover Quality Control processes (eg: punchlists, work-to-complete, non-compliance items, inspections) while the usability of the overall user interface has also been improved. Foremost among the improvements is a ‘spatial index’ activity centre which allows an administrator to define particular project spaces, making it easier for users to locate quality control tasks such as work-to-complete or non-compliance items.
Newforma Chief Executive Officer Ian Howell said the Newforma Project Cloud updates are just the latest in a roadmap of extended improvements to the overall Newforma PIM solution:
“Newforma Project Cloud provides project hosting in the cloud, where everyone on the project team can access RFIs, submittals, plans, and other key project information from a single source. Many customers have told us they’re slashing their submittals review cycles in half using Newforma Project Cloud. Now, with new capabilities for field management, the quality control aspects of the construction phase of project delivery can benefit from similar performance improvements.”
(If you are attending this year’s BIMShowLive in Manchester, UK, 23-24 April, Newforma is exhibiting on stand GS16.)
Update (19 May 2014) – For another review of these Newforma software updates, look at Lachmi Khemlani’s AECbytes article, Newforma’s Expanded Cloud and Mobile Offerings.