What to look for when choosing an AEC document management system

written by
Marcus Roberts
Aug 7, 2023
minutes read

In the modern AEC industry, companies are replacing traditional approaches with digital workflows to enhance productivity and boost collaboration. By investing in the correct document management system, firms can improve project performance while saving time, money, and effort. This article analyses the four attributes that AEC professionals should consider during the search for a document management solution that fits their organisation.

1. A single consolidated platform to store all project documents

Today, many AEC practices still manage different information workflows using multiple products, or use various document management systems to store and surface project data. These traditional methods lead to scattered and fragmented information. The lack of native integrations between point products means documents are distributed in many separate repositories that do not conveniently communicate with one another, making it challenging to track, manage, and retrieve information. For example, if there is one status change to a document, team members would have to manually update the change across different tools, which is prone to error and inefficient.

To solve this daunting challenge, during the selection of a document management system, it is important that the chosen solution allows for intelligent storage, collaboration, and access of all documents across the whole life cycles of projects. Any team member should be able to easily access and collaborate on any document, at any point during a project. This will ensure efficient communication and progress, which helps projects to be delivered on time and within budget.

Being the one source of truth for project information, Atvero provides a centralised platform where teams can store, surface, and access all project data in dedicated sites for key areas such as Records, Transmittals, Contacts and Emails.

2. AEC-focused workflows

Document management is more than collecting and storing information in a system. Documents need to be checked, validated, and approved to ensure that they adhere to predefined project standards and contain accurate information. However, generic document management tools usually lack specialised processes that the AEC projects demand. These tools do not support validation of naming scheme compliance, revision control, customisable approval workflows, or highly auditable information transmittal processes that are required to deliver quality-assured projects. Therefore, to maintain project quality, companies must select a document control system that offers industry-focused workflows that meet the needs of the AEC industry.

Designed specifically for architects and engineers, Atvero offers advanced document control workflows that follow AEC industry best practice, including automated issue registers, intelligent document revisioning, transmittals with full audit trails, and naming scheme compliance enforced across all documents. With Atvero documents are correctly named, reviewed, and revision-controlled, meaning information is always accurate and up-to-date. Atvero also provides design-system integrations, such as AutoCAD and Revit, to make it simple to add information like drawings into Atvero.

3. Scalability and flexibility

Even the smallest AEC project can get extremely complicated with large volumes of documents and various stakeholders involved across different project stages. This means not only large firms but also small practices will need to adopt a document management solution with dynamic scalability. When AEC professionals juggle between multiple projects, expand their project teams, or switch between different teams, it is vital that their document management system also scales and be highly available to work well both in teams with a small collection of documents and in multi-teamed projects where thousands of deliverables are produced.

In addition, to allow companies to customise workflows that meet their distinctive requirements across different teams or projects, the selected document management solution also needs to provide flexible configuration of different naming conventions, coding structures, metadata, and templates across different projects and parts of the organisation.

Built on SharePoint, Atvero inherits the scalability of its underlying platform, which allows for 2 million sites (or project workspaces) and 25TB of storage per site, supporting projects of 5 to 50000 documents. Leveraging SharePoint’s notion of hub sites, Atvero provides common sets of configurations for metadata, naming conventions and templates, which can be grouped together to support fast and easy creation of new workspaces that adhere to a project’s predefined standards.

4. Making a complete move to the cloud

In a digitised AEC industry, cloud-based softwares have revolutionised how projects are delivered. With hybrid working becoming “the new normal” in a post-pandemic workforce, there has been a significant rise in cloud technologies that support the collaboration and communication between remote project teams. The rapid emergence of cloud-based solutions means the AEC industry is witnessing the gradual disappearance of physical IT infrastructures, such as desktop computers or hosted servers, as more and more project teams are making a switch from on-premises to the cloud.

A cloud-based document management system allows team members to access and work on project documents anytime, anywhere and across any device, which helps ensure continuity and flexibility in collaboration. It is also much more cost-effective to move to a cloud-based virtual environment than maintaining physical assets.

Built on Microsoft 365’s platform, Atvero allows project teams to work on projects on the cloud regardless of where they are in the world, whether it’s from an enterprise workstation or a mobile device, whenever they need. In Atvero, data is hosted in project teams’ SharePoint tenancy and is protected by Microsoft’s data retention policies, ensuring complete security.

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