Firm Controls Revision Process, Saving Time and Reducing Costs
To an active engineering firm with an eye on productivity, duplicated efforts can be frustrating and a big waste of time. Unfortunately this wasted time can directly translate into higher costs or lower profits, schedule delays and possibly disappointed customers. Maryland-based AWB Engineers, a full-service engineering and architectural firm with a talented group of civil, architectural, structural, mechanical, and electrical experts focused primarily on industrial and commercial projects involving poultry processing, food distribution and cold storage facilities, decided they needed to tackle this problem head on. Despite their best efforts to manage their data with regimented organic processes, like other engineering firms, they ran into the occasion when they’d find two project team members making revisions simultaneously to different copies of the same file. That occurrence would set off a chain of events in order to correct the problem, resulting in a good deal of extra time spent on a project. It ÃƒÅ’s the primary reason AWB sought out a document management system and selected Adept document management & workflow software.
Using Adept has helped AWB engineers eliminate a serious problem. “Now we can be 100% sure our team members have grabbed the latest file and that while they have that file in their possession, no one else is making revisions to it without the knowledge of everyone on the team,” said Greg Barfield, IT and CAD Manager at AWB Engineers.
Even the Best Laid Plans Can’t Measure Up to EDM
Before implementing Synergis Adept, AWB had a well thought out process that worked reasonably well for its eight or nine employees to find and manage documents. Each project manager, staff engineer, and CAD operator had a read-only shared folder on the network, where they kept their project documents in this folder, which was backed up every hour. Once the projects were completed, they were archived to a read-only folder for everyone. These projects were archived by year. “It seemed like a fail-proof method,” said Barfield. However, the system was open to individual work-arounds. “The problem was that one team member would “borrow” a file from another over the network and forget to tell them that they had it. That would result in two people simultaneously building changes into documents that were copies of each other,” said Barfield. In addition, the firm experienced tremendous growth in 2003 and the team grew to 20 employees, which put the existing file management system on shaky ground.
So, in November of 2004 AWB finally opted for a professional data management solution, from Synergis Software, to help maintain the company’s CAD software, including AutoCAD, Field Survey and Sketch-Up. After evaluating several competitive software packages they selected Adept over the others because if its out-of-the-box functionality, flexibility, ease-of-use, and Barfield’s own familiarity with the product. The experience and skill of the company’s technical staff were also a significant value for AWB Engineers. “I was familiar with Synergis Software prior to researching document management software and have since been extremely impressed with the level of knowledge of everyone I’ve met in the organization,” said Barfield. “They make you feel like you are the most important client they have, even though we are a small company.”
At AWB, document management software, once considered a hindrance to work, is now appreciated by AWB engineers, including the built-in structure of a system that eliminates the possibility of duplicating documents. “The time our team members spent archiving at the end of a project has been drastically reduced, and with our current heavy workload, CAD users can move on to the next project instead of spending a good deal of time archiving a completed project,” said Barfield. “There’s also been a lot of positive feedback from users about Adept’s built-in visualization tool, which allows users to compare changes from one revision to another – another huge timesaver!”
Barfield added, “Now when a person opens a drawing to make revisions or to plot a drawing for a client, there’s a guarantee they’ve pulled the most current file and are certain no one else is making changes to it during that time.”
Controlled Implementation Makes Transition Smooth
While 100 percent committed to implementing the Synergis Adept document management system, AWB Engineers wanted to proceed slowly and cautiously so there were no abrupt changes to production that could disrupt productivity. “We started our implementation in January and decided to first focus on several projects which we could use to test Adept, prior to placing the entire design team into the mix. Because of this, we did not start our normal project flow in Adept for several months,” said Barfield. “In addition, we decided to use Adept only on 2005 projects. We are keeping our “old” file management system in place while we complete any projects that were received prior to 2005. I am now in the process of importing those existing documents into Adept and expect to be finished by the end of the year.”
To make certain everyone got up-to-speed with the new system, AWB Engineers ran training sessions for the staff. “The learning curve has been fairly quick. Most AWB users caught on very well and were up and running soon after the company’s final day of implementation and training,” said Barfield. “Overall, the basic concept of Adept is very simple and most tasks can be performed very easily.”
More Data for Adept to Manage in the Future
Currently, only the project engineering side of the company is using Adept, but according to Barfield, “as time goes by, more and more AWB data will be tracked and managed by Adept, requiring us to add more users.” In the future, Barfield anticipates that AWB will begin to use Adept to track daily correspondence with clients, specifications, progress photos of projects, proposals, and more. “I could very easily see every single electronic file that our company produces being managed by Adept.”