How can an architect in Denver, Colorado explain his design to an engineer in Houston, Texas while a construction project manager for a petroleum refinery in Saudi Arabia ensures that the design meets his criteria?
The answer is Web-based collaboration, and it is becoming the way to conquer team projects without ever having to leave home base.
Collaborate Or Evaporate
“Businesses that don’t learn to e-collaborate will lose a competitive edge,” says Mary Coleman, Chairman and CEO of Baan Company, an enterprise business solution provider. The company recently introduced Baan OpenWorld, an integration framework in which business partners are able to seamlessly share information and collaborate on business processes.
Although it is being developed slowly, the product will eventually enable businesses to collaborate entirely over the Internet on everything from engineering drawings and payment systems to customer notes and subcontractor reports.
Right now, e-commerce Web sites, Internet portals, Internet service providers, community sites and B2B Web sites have the opportunity to meeting-enable their Web sites by enrolling with a provider such as MyPlaceWare. The service allows up to five people to participate in a free live interactive presentation over the Internet using only a Web browser and a phone.
“As Web conferencing becomes an increasingly vital tool for business communications, companies will look to add this capability to enhance the effectiveness and competitiveness of their Web sites,” says Jim Hogan, Vice President of Business Development for PlaceWare.
Getting It All Together In Construction
Blueline Online’s ProjectNet 3.3 is specifically designed to enhance collaboration among architectural/engineering/construction (AEC) project teams.
The software allows companies to sign off on work processes, as well as track job site issues and job site activity through field notes and daily logs. In addition, project team members can use a Palm or Windows CE device to input the information and synchronize it to the ProjectNet service.
New features notify project team members of critical issues and offer the ability to get on-the-spot forecasts of weather conditions at the building site.
Tim McCall, a Facilities Estimator for multi-billion dollar global engineering and construction firm Black & Veatch, utilizes Blueline’s product.
“B&V provides engineering, procurement and construction services to the power, infrastructure, process and telecommunications markets. Every project requires better communication flow and team effort on an ever-increasing scale. The ability to update members of the various project teams on a “need-to-know” basis gives us much greater control over the outcome.”
Collaborate and Complement
Nobody believes in Web-based collaboration more than Steve Ballmer. The Microsoft power broker recently introduced Microsoft Project Central, a new Web-based companion product that enables knowledge workers on teams of any size to manage projects collaboratively when used in conjunction with the new Microsoft Project 2000.
“As companies increasingly depend on teamwork to achieve greater success,” said Kathleen Hebert, general manager of the Office Family Division at Microsoft, “it is essential that all people in an organization have access to critical project information.”