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
Vice President of Strategic Development

As Vice President of Strategic Development at Bluebeam Software, Sasha Reed collaborates with leaders in the architecture, engineering and construction industry to guide Bluebeam’s technology, partnerships and long-term goals. She joined Bluebeam in 2007 and co-created the Concierge Approach, a distinctly branded process of customer engagement, product feedback and solution delivery to which much of Bluebeam’s success is attributed, and which today is replicated at every organizational level.

Sasha is known industry-wide as a “conversation facilitator,” creating platforms for exchanges necessary to digitally advance the industry, including the BD+C Magazine Digital COM Blog, which she authors and manages. She’s been a featured presenter at numerous national and international conferences, including the 2014 Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA), Federal Project Delivery Symposium and NTI Danish BIM Conference. Sasha also co-chairs the Construction PDF Coalition, a grassroots effort to provide a common industry framework from which to create and maintain construction PDF documents, serves on the City College of San Francisco BIM Industry Council, and is Advisor to the Board of Direction for the National Institute of Building Sciences BuildingSMART Alliance.

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