Collaboration in design: The search for a seamless digital workflow tool - Building NZ
Collaboration in design: The search for a seamless digital workflow tool

Collaboration in design: The search for a seamless digital workflow tool

When Jeremy Benseman​ began his search for the best PDF markup solution for his team of architects, he knew he needed a tool that allowed creative expression and hand-written markups. Bluebeam Revu, supported by CADPRO, ticked this box and many more.

Words by Nick Forrester

Digital mark-up and pdf collaboration tools are becoming common in the architecture and construction industries. But what propelled this shift from more traditional workflow methods?

Early adopters know that good software can streamline projects by fostering effective collaboration across stakeholders, giving all involved parties the information they need on a single cloud-based platform.

So, when Ignite's Associate Director and Technology Manager Jeremy Benseman​ began the search for the best PDF mark-up tool for the Ignite team, he knew he needed to engage particularly with staff of more traditional inclinations. Bluebeam Revu, supported by CADPRO, ticked this box, and many more.

The ease of use of the Bluebeam software was a huge drawcard for Ignite Architects. Image credit: Bluebeam

Bluebeam Revu — A study in resonating across diverse working styles

“We have a number of architects that are not hardcore CAD or BIM users, and they still like to use a pen and paper,” says Jeremy. “At Ignite we encourage hand drawing and mark-up, it’s a big part of the way we work.

“In fact, enabling communication through digital drawing has become a must-have for us. So we needed a digital mark-up tool that struck the balance between physical writing and digital records.”

Bluebeam Revu addresses this by providing a means to physically mark up on a tablet with a stylus directly to PDFs, which can then be easily shared between teams and stakeholders. This ease-of-use alone, Jeremy says, is largely responsible for the enthusiastic uptake of Bluebeam software at Ignite Architects when it was first introduced last year.

“It’s this ability to seamlessly streamline mark-ups that really drew a positive reception,” says Jeremy. “So much so that we’ve increased our number of seats by 30% from where we first started — we had to quickly add more people to it because the uptake was so great.”

Of course, it’s not just those with a penchant for creative drawing that benefit from Bluebeam — everyone across each project, whether they’re architects from Ignite or other stakeholders outside the organisation, can make good use of the powerful collaboration tools.

With the ‘Studio Sessions’ application, users can keep track of who said what, at what stage of the project. Studio Sessions allows for automatic tracking of all comments and mark-ups across a workflow, with a visual cue to help users find the latest conversations.

“Studio Sessions is invaluable to us,” says Jeremy. “It means we can create a PDF, which multiple people can mark up, including people outside the organisation.

“And the best thing is you don’t end up with multiple versions of the same drawings, for example; there’s one single document with everyone’s distinct mark-ups attached. It makes everything much more consolidated and efficient.”

The Bluebeam software ticks several boxes for Ignite Architects.

Not just a plus for architects

For Ignite, the software obviously ticks many boxes: its ease-of-use has resonated with a range of working styles, and the emphasis on collaboration streamlines the entire process across teams and organisations. It’s great for architects — but what about the books?

“From a financial perspective, it’s proven to be very cost-effective for us — even as we increase our uptake,” Jeremy says. “It’s always good to have best-in-class software and not be overpaying for it. And its cost-effectiveness means we can have a single solution for all staff.”

But one of the best indicators of Bluebeam’s success at Ignite is how quickly it was embraced as a valid solution, rather than the team feeling tasked with a new process to learn.

“It was quite remarkable — usually there’s a season of training and education when new software is launched,” he says. “But for Bluebeam, we’re seven or eight months in now and the teams are enthusiastic about the change and the new features available to them. It's adding value for sure.

“And that’s all you can really ask for.”

Learn more about CADPRO and Bluebeam Revu.

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