December

1

2020

San Francisco, CA, December 1, 2020 – Ideate Software, an Autodesk® AEC Industry Partner and Autodesk® Authorized Developer, is pleased to share enhancements to Ideate StyleManager, its Revit  solution that allows users to analyze, delete or merge non-standard Revit styles.

“Unapproved or non-standard styles within Revit models, templates or family files cause poor deliverable quality as well as delays due to the need to republish the documents,” said Glynnis Patterson, Director of Software Development, Ideate Software. “In June 2019, we launched Ideate StyleManager with tools for managing the styles of nine Revit functions, including Object Styles, Line Styles, Line Patterns and Fill Patterns. This month, we launched six new tools that directly address requests from users, including Viewports, Dimensions and Arrowheads.”

Eric Miller from Bora Architecture & Interiors said, “As we are fundamentally updating our templates, we have found the definitions for text and labels within tags and symbols to be an absolute nightmare. We are delighted that the new version of Ideate StyleManager addresses this issue.”

One unique enhancement included in the November 2020 release of Ideate StyleManager is the ability to analyze, delete or merge Text Types and Font styles: 

  • Text Types – Unapproved text types that make their way into projects or templates cannot be purged when they are in use
  • Fonts – They can be displayed in tags, title blocks or other annotation families, making non-standard fonts hard to track down

Finding, analyzing and fixing non-standard Text Types and Fonts is easy with Ideate StyleManager.

The new version of Ideate StyleManager also makes it easy to analyze and correct the styles of:

  • Filled Regions
  • Viewports
  • Dimensions and Arrowheads

The November 2020 release of Ideate StyleManager also includes:

  • Performance improvements
  • Language support for Spanish, Japanese and French
  • An “Isolate Similar” function that allows users to compare materials that have many key properties in common
  • The ability to delete unplaced groups, which will streamline cleanups of Viewports, Line Styles, Text and other styles

For more details about this release, please visit What’s New in Ideate StyleManager.


About Ideate Software - Ideate Software, an Autodesk® AEC Industry Partner and Autodesk® Authorized Developer, empowers Revit users to gain unprecedented control over their data. Ideate BIMLink, Ideate Explorer, Ideate Sticky, IdeateApps, Ideate StyleManager and Ideate Dashboard for Autodesk® BIM 360® were all developed to solve persistent problems in architecture, engineering, construction and owner (AECO) workflows. Ideate Software solutions enable Revit users to save time, increase accuracy, improve project deliverables and elevate design.

Autodesk, BIM 360 and Revit are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates in the USA and/or other countries.

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November

30

2020

Every AEC firm has a project situation where this thought occurs: “We want to streamline this process. Our software can design and/or document the project, but we need more.” The options for the owner or firm are:

  1. Do nothing. Live with the pain
  2. Search to see if there is something free on the Internet
  3. Create an in-house application (software development)
  4. Subscribe to an add-in program (from a third-party provider)

Before exploring these options, from the one with the lowest initial cost to the one with the highest, let’s define return on investment (ROI). According to Investopedia, ROI is “a performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or compare the efficiency of a number of different investments. ROI tries to directly measure the amount of return on a particular investment, relative to the investment’s cost.”

Because AEC firms are service-based companies, to determine ROI, they must look at a combination of first costs (purchase investment), on-going costs (maintenance), and cost savings (quicker completion of tasks/work) as part of the business decision. For the purpose of this article:

(First Cost) + (Ongoing Costs) – (Productivity Savings) = Total Cost

This simplified calculation says there are first costs and ongoing costs that must be serviced by the productivity gains. Without productivity gains, all that remains are costs.

Another factor AEC decision makers must determine is if the process/product they are considering is the right tool for the project/process. For example, every person working around the house finds out that you can use a screwdriver or a hammer to countersink a screw. In fact, many ‘newbie’ homeowners have tried hammering a screw into a piece of knotty wood. They find, though it is possible, the result is neither efficient nor does it create an elegant finished product. The point is that decision makers looking to streamline processes must find the right tool for the job. The jobs will be different, therefore, the tools needed have to be different. One reason contractors buy power equipment is that it helps them be quicker at their jobs than hand equipment. The advent of air-powered nailers (more expensive than hammers) increased productivity, provided consistent results, and reduced errors, and they are now the industry standard in wood construction.

In this article, I review a decision-making process that will increase a firm’s success in streamlining the project workflow.

Addressing the Pain: A Look at the Four Options


 This table is based on a similar graph produced by Robert Manna, Associate at Stantec.

Do Nothing

This approach, sometimes called ‘other use of capital’ simply states, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” or “we have always done it this way,” or “the authoring program should do this.” All of the above thoughts have some validity but are short-sighted. The ‘Do Nothing’ approach ignores the high on-going costs of inefficiency and the possibility of errors while having a zero-productivity enhancing element. In fact, doing nothing increases the pain, decreasing employee morale and leading to other productivity losses.

We choose to do nothing because it is the easiest answer. We can sit by and silently complain about the authoring software. However, it is imperative that decision makers and leadership find solutions that solve problems, reduce errors, and increase productivity. 

Questions to ask: 

  • Do we have a problem, a pain?
  • Define the pain – What is the existing and the desired workflow?  Diagram the desired workflow showing the entire process, including pinch points.
  • What are other firms doing to fix the pain?

Search for a Free Solution (The Internet Route)

Often this is the first ‘go to’ strategy after the pain has been felt. We Internet-search the pain and look at the first 3-4 results to find the ‘magic’ aspirin for the pain. Often, the results are as relevant as when searching for the best car for 2020; they are not very specific and do not provide a valid methodology for identifying a successful solution.

When Revit first became an industry standard, the need for Revit families exploded. AEC companies downloaded ‘free’ families only to find out that they were bloated (file size), not created well, or not suitable for the firm’s desired usage. Though the first cost was low and there were zero maintenance costs, the cost savings were negligible, or simply the pain was still there. Sometimes the pain increased because of the use of inappropriate families to the firm.

Today, add-in solutions run the spectrum from good to not-so-good. Careful consideration of the decision-making process is required. You should evaluate free solutions in the same way paid solutions are evaluated:

  • Test the solution thoroughly, including BIM model fidelity
  • Determine if the free solution solves the whole problem or just a portion of it
  • Understand the business model of the solution seller

Create In-house Solutions

The in-house software solution requires hiring or utilizing in-house resources to create a bespoke solution. New graphical software programming interfaces can be used, and those bespoke solutions can have great value. Also, the use of traditional programming solutions (C#, Python, JSON, etc.) has lowered the preliminary learning threshold. However, on-going costs to learn and maintain the program are required.

In-house solutions have a fairly low first cost but a high on-going cost. The hidden cost is the ongoing maintenance of the solution. That hidden cost includes updates when a new version of the authoring software changes the underlying connections between the solution and the authoring software. The biggest issue to address is what to do if the in-house software developer leaves the company. Based on our discussions with people at numerous AEC firms, we have found that this happens often, and when it does, the pain returns and the money expended into the in-house solution become a lost investment (non-ongoing benefit).

Items to consider:

  • Assess in-house resources and outside consultants – understand the cost and availability of each option
  • Determine a transition strategy to plan what happens when the in-house person is not available
  • Understand that bespoke solutions tend to work best for bespoke pains (crafted solution for a process that is unique to a project)
  • Model the ongoing costs and time required to maintain bespoke solutions

Subscribe to a Third-party Solution

This option has the highest first cost. As buyers, we always wonder if there is a lower first cost; however, as the formula at the beginning of the article states, first cost is only one-third of the equation. All purchased solutions must be evaluated and measured by the total cost and benefits.

In reviewing third-party solutions, you should evaluate the seller. Some information to obtain is:

  • How long has the seller been developing Revit add-ins?
  • How long has the seller been around?
  • How stable is the software? Can it damage your Revit database?
  • What are their support mechanisms? What does the seller do when a user encounters an issue, including providing in-program help features?
  • Does the seller listen when you have feature requests, or more importantly do they listen?
  • Can the seller produce ROI information and show why their solution will save the user time (money)?

Return on Investment 

When AEC firms invest in a solution, the desired result are productivity gains. How can firms determine what productivity gains are available to be harvested? Revit add-ins support the authoring software (Revit), which is based solely upon labor costs, unlike construction pre-fabrication that saves labor and material costs. So how do we calculate labor savings?

Using software is very labor-intensive. Productivity and efficiency improvements considerations are:
(Source: 2019 DBEI Presentation S3.1 – Kelly Cone) 

  • How much time did the process take to do before?
  • How much time does it take to do now? 
  • How much time is saved?
  • How much time will it take when you are done?
  • Based on the time savings, how much more work can the users do in a day?
  • What is the average labor cost (burdened and unburdened) of the users?
  • How many users do you have now?
  • How many projects can those people currently produce?
  • How many more projects could they produce if they were more efficient?

Some of these considerations are firm specific (average labor cost, number of people in firm, projects per employee, etc.) and can be determined by firm ownership. Labor return on investment is hard to determine.

There are not many studies on third-party software ROI, because it can be hard to quantify the metrics of time required to do an existing process vs. time required to do the same process with a new software. Ideate Software reached out to AEC firms to understand the time they saved by using its Revit add-ins. URLs with the results include:

What these results show is that there are productivity gains that can be achieved with the usage of a Revit add-in. Through our studies, we have documented that our add-in programs do provide productivity gains, above any purchase cost, and usually within the first project usage. We have also determined that to achieve those gains, you need:

  • Upper management buy-in to create/modify workflows to leverage the software
  • To use the Help files within the program (good software has great in software help)
  • User training (good software should have good training videos) to assist in the process transition

Conclusion

Though the process may seem daunting, this article articulates a defined process AEC firms can use to determine which method to follow (do nothing through purchasing software) after a new workflow is required, the relative benefits and risks associated with each method, and how return on investment can be analyzed in a labor-intensive service industry. Productivity gains are more important than first costs in the equation. Return on investment should drive the decision.

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About the Author

David Haynes, Director, Ideate Software
David is a registered architect and a project management certified professional. Before joining Ideate, David had his own architectural practice and was president of a commercial design-build construction company for 15 years. A graduate of the University of Arizona, he has worked as an architect, contractor, and developer, and he was a national construction manager for a national retailer. David currently provides business process analysis, data integration, and change management solutions for AECO clients involved in the design and construction industry across the United States. Find David on Twitter.

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November

24

2020

Thank you to Sanjay Gangal, who invited me to speak on an AECCafe Bunker Broadcast, a set of video conversations designed to keep the architecture, engineering and construction community informed of industry commentary, news, product reviews, events, and more during the COVID-19 crisis. 

During the 15-minute interview, I had fun highlighting the features and benefits of our products and services, letting people know how they can connect with Ideate Software at Autodesk University 2020, discussing why our products should continue to be relevant as Autodesk develops internally, and sharing a few personal facts about me, including a picture of my dog, Bear.

Richard Taylor AECCafe Interview

Thank you to Sanjay, for inviting me to participate. I look forward to seeing you in person when COVID-19 is behind us. 
  
Browse our website for more information on our Revit productivity tools. Give them a try with a free trial version, or subscribe today


About the Author

Richard W. Taylor, Associate AIA – Technical Evangelist 
Richard has more than 30 years of experience working for companies that develop architectural and engineering software solutions, such as Intergraph, Bentley, and Autodesk. He has over 20 years of Revit experience, and he was part of the original development of Revit while at Revit Technology Corporation. He worked for 12 years at Autodesk, where he presented, taught, and worked to improve features in Revit. Richard holds both a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies and Master of Architecture from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. As Technical Evangelist, Richard works with AECO clients worldwide, developing and consulting on BIM solutions. Find Richard on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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November

19

2020

We are pleased to report the results of our August 2020 survey in which we asked BIM Managers and BIM Leads from around the world how often their office and staff use Ideate Explorer. In this blog post, we share information on the tasks they reported performing daily. Over the next few weeks, we will share information about the tasks they reported performing weekly and at various times.

Ideate Explorer is a comprehensive Revit model browser and Warnings management tool, as opposed to the Project Browser that comes with Revit software. Revit professionals use Ideate Explorer to keep their models clean and accurate, decrease the time they spend on model management, increase the accuracy of their models and reduce file size.

Ideate Explorer Tasks Performed Daily
    

Calculate Your Financial Return on Investment

In addition to enhancing Revit models and freeing users to focus on more valuable activities, the time saved by using Ideate Explorer can result in large financial savings. To help you convert the time you can save into dollars, we developed an ROI calculator. Simply enter a few data points to determine the approximate amount you could save by using Ideate Explorer instead of the functions within Revit. 

Learn More

Check out our Ideate Explorer ROI web page for other ways in which our clients use this powerful Revit add-in application to save time and money. 

Contact us if you have any questions. We look forward to hearing from you. 

Browse our website for more information on our Revit productivity tools. Give them a try with a free trial version, or subscribe today


About the Author

Sash Kazeminejad - AIA, LEED AP - Customer Success Manager
Sash earned his Master of Architecture from Montana State University and is a California registered architect, LEED Accredited Professional. He has extensive experience in project management; BIM management; design for architectural firms in California, Montana, and Oregon; and leading classroom and online BIM training. He provides consulting, sales, support, and training solutions to AECO customers around the globe. Find Sash on LinkedIn.

 

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November

18

2020

Watch the recording of this 30-minute webinar for a quick overview of four Ideate Software solutions that can help you ensure your Revit model performs well and has the highest quality deliverable. Comments made by people who attended the live session include: 

  • “The solutions demonstrated are incredibly helpful for checking the health of a Revit model. We have been exploring these functions within our company and tweaking the template spreadsheets to suit our company standards. We soon hope to make Ideate Software tools part of our standard internal Revit model audit processes.”
     
  • “I am taking on a role in which I will be maintaining the Revit models. It’s good to know about the tools that can help me maintain good model health.”
     
  • “The great set of pre-set queries and reports is very helpful to give users immediate value from the tools, without requiring much setup. The ability to then customize those starting blocks to adapt to a firm's unique requirements is very helpful.”

Webinar Highlights

  1. Ideate BIMLink
    • Review and edit data by extracting it from Revit to an easy-to-use Excel spreadsheet
    • Use the preconfigured library links or modify them to meet your needs
    • Review the included Ideate_HealthCheck.xlsx spreadsheet to make model review a snap
  2. Ideate Explorer 
    • Audit with certainty by seeing every instance of every element in your Revit model
    • Search for elements based on parameter information with Ideate Query
    • Review and fix Revit warnings with Ideate Warnings Manager  
  3. Ideate Dashboard for Autodesk BIM 360
    • Review Revit model information that has been published to BIM 360 for warnings
    • See Partner Cards that are configured to allow Revit warning review across models
  4. Ideate StyleManager
    • Safely remove non-standard styles
    • Understand the impact to the model if a style is simply deleted
    • Analyze, merge, rename or delete a multitude of Revit styles with confidence

Browse our website for more information on our Revit productivity tools. Give them a try with a free trial version, or subscribe today


About the Author

Richard W. Taylor, Associate AIA – Technical Evangelist 
Richard has more than 30 years of experience working for companies that develop architectural and engineering software solutions, such as Intergraph, Bentley, and Autodesk. He has over 20 years of Revit experience, and he was part of the original development of Revit while at Revit Technology Corporation. He worked for 12 years at Autodesk, where he presented, taught, and worked to improve features in Revit. Richard holds both a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies and Master of Architecture from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. As Technical Evangelist, Richard works with AECO clients worldwide, developing and consulting on BIM solutions. Find Richard on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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