Newforma, the New Hampshire, US-based project information management (PIM) software company that offers a combination of on-premise and cloud-based document collaboration functionality, has released the 11th edition of its internally-hosted Newforma Project Center platform, offering greater integration with enterprise cloud storage platforms.
Highlights in this release include:
- support for popular cloud storage providers, Box and Dropbox
- data management using Panzura’s global locking file system, cloud-integrated storage solution Microsoft StorSimple, and/or Nasuni enterprise storage-as-a-service
- integration allowing check-in/out of files via leading electronic document management systems (EDMSs): Microsoft SharePoint and IBM FileNet, and – more pertinent to the AEC market, particularly for engineering projects, where Bentley tools are often heavily embedded – Bentley ProjectWise,
I was briefed about the software release on Monday (by Marge Hart and Bob Batchelor), ahead of the news release and a London user event yesterday (Wednesday); this briefing complemented one I had in April 2014 about Newforma’s mobile and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) functionality.
Marge and Bob stressed the improved integration of Newforma Project Center improving access to project files, leveraging cloud storage, and helping teams spanning multi-office organisations collaborate more efficiently, with powerful search capabilities across all the file storage resources (Marge demonstrated opening ProjectWise-stored files, for example). We talked about “shared folders” where authorised users could drag and drop files and do one-click downloads, the product now has an Outlook plug-in that enables users to share content to Project Center “as easily as sharing an email”, task management (discussed in April) is also improved, and the Newforma Viewer has been updated with enhanced mark-up and other tools.
Newforma’s Revit BIM add-on module has also been enhanced, using a new PDF print driver that simplifies the generation of sheets within Autodesk Revit and captures sheet metadata to streamline drawing issue.
The Newforma suite plainly targets the enterprise user community, seeking to provide what it describes as a “single pane of glass” for access by dispersed team members to all project information (in Newforma, a project can be an internal undertaking as well as a construction scheme), though the enterprise focus still – to me – doesn’t expressly support project collaboration involving multiple companies (I guess this is where Newforma’s Project Cloud solution and, where appropriate, Newforma-to-Newforma come in).
Integration with other EDMSs will remove one potential barrier to Newforma adoption: that the latter isn’t integrated with an existing in-house system. The Newforma indexing and search tools can therefore be used to find and manage content in these separate secure vaults, helping provide authorised users with a more complete picture of all the information resources that are available to them – hopefully, helping reduce (or – is to too much to hope for? – eliminate) ‘silos’.
Integration with the common file-sharing applications will also go some way towards tackling the growing ‘Stealth’ or ‘Shadow IT’ issue that many corporates face – particularly with mobile users parking files in non-corporate Dropbox and similar online storage accounts – or the increasing requirement for ‘hybrid ECM’ (enterprise content management; see post).