Better ways to manage PDF drawing sets – A customer's wish comes true

April 17, 2013 |
Sasha Reed

During a recent customer visit with a strategic customer, I had the pleasure of solving a challenge on the spot. Nothing is better as a software solution provider than to have a customer articulate a critical need and be able to say, “We have an answer for that!”

To better understand this customer’s technology needs for project communication, I sat and talked with them about their challenges, noting all of their wish list items. As it happens, this customer works on some of the most amazing skyscraper projects around the globe and manages pretty much all of it from their Manhattan office. It’s impressive to say the least but it makes communicating across departments, offices and jobsites challenging. One challenge in particular related to managing PDF drawing sets. 

The challenge was this: in order to make PDF drawings more consumable in the field on mobile devices, they split all of their PDF drawings into separate files. This was the perfect solution. They were able to easily pull up specific sheets while on the go, getting to the information they needed, quickly. However, for the workers back in the office, this was creating a navigation nightmare. They were forced to open up entire drawings sets, one PDF at a time. And viewing it as a complete set again meant a very manual combining process. They were losing valuable time and had to find a better solution. 

I swore them to secrecy and then informed them that I may have just the solution they’re looking for. As it turns out, we had just implemented a new feature called “Sets” which was about 2 weeks away from being released. Knowing that this challenge was not unique to this firm, we’d been looking for an innovative way to solve this for the construction industry as a whole.   

The solution came to us after we looked at the problem from a different angle. We determined our customers’ didn’t necessarily have a PDF management issue but rather a visualization/navigation issue. What if you could leave each separate file in its saved location but simply multi-select them and create a Set which you could then view again as one file? This way you have the best of both worlds for the guy in the field and the guy in back in the office or jobsite trailer. And not only that but what if you could organize each drawing set so that the most current addendum was always on top?  You could share the set, print the set or even recombine the set.

I explained this feature to the client and they sat, eyes wide, listening to every word. And when I finished they sat dumbfounded for a second, only to say, “Can you go through that again?  I’m not sure I heard you right.” Yeah, that was a great feeling… to make a wish come true on the spot. Sometimes in order to solve a challenge, you simply need walk around the problem and look at it from different angles. What are some of your most perplexing challenges?  Who do you work with to solve these challenges?  You never know, depending on whom you’re working with, your wishes could come true!

Sasha Reed | Digital COM
Bluebeam Software

About the Author: Sasha Reed has over 12 years of experience working directly in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) market. As VP of Strategic Alliances at Bluebeam Software, Sasha interacts directly with AEC leaders to better understand the long-range goals of the industry and help align Bluebeam’s technology partnerships. In addition, Sasha is acting Chair of the Construction PDF Coalition.  The purpose of the Coalition is to establish Guidelines to provide Architects, Engineers, Constructors and Owners (AECO) with a common framework in which to create and maintain Construction PDF Documents. Sasha has been featured as the keynote speaker at the 2014 Bentley Florida User Group and spoken at numerous industry events including the American Institute of Architects’ DesignDC Conference, NTI Danish BIM Conference, the International Highway Engineering Exchange Program and the International Facilities Management Association Conference. Sasha has also contributed articles to numerous national publications and authors the Digital Com blog for Building Design + Construction magazine. Before Bluebeam, Sasha was a Project Manager for M3, a Herman Miller dealer, where she learned ?rsthand the challenges faced by the AEC industry from project conception to completion. 

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