Expert Elites Discuss Autodesk Construction Cloud

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by Donnia Tabor-Hanson

 

Hey everyone! My name is Donnia Tabor-Hanson, and I'm an Autodesk Expert Elite based out of Tennessee. Where I work, we have been successfully using Autodesk Construction Cloud for years. Let me tell you our story of how we get started with a project setup through the use of ACC.

 

Everyone needs a process set in place for setting up a project in the cloud. You could use a spreadsheet, Survey Monkey, Google Docs, ticket system, or any other of the many possibilities that can be used to put information in for the Account Administrator(s) setting up the projects to use. The Account Administrator could be a team, one person, or several teammates following the same procedures in setting up a project. Next is setting up a project template in ACC.

 

You do not want to be individually adding project folders to each project. So, when planning the folders, look into how you want to share files within and/or outside your internal team. Your Administrator(s) will be able to set up templates as you need them. You may have one overall company template, or, you might have templates based on project types. (For example, your multi-family team may need fewer folders than your hospital team). If you know who will be on all projects, set up the members in the template(s). These may be other admins or your BIM Manager. You can also set permissions for different member types. Some may have only viewing permissions, while others can work on the projects. Admins will define folders for the template to use. Each should be well-named for clarity. An admin can add any sub-folders to the template as required. Someone should add documentation for directions of use should be added in the template. Maybe set up a folder for “Template Administration” to hold information everyone should learn about during training on the ACC template.

 

Having a template sets you up for success when getting started. To get a project started where I work, someone fills out a form that sends a Design Technology Services, or DTS, ticket to our system. All the information we need to create the project is in the form including project name, address, number, type of project, time zone, start and end dates, project lead, teammates’ names for the project, stakeholders’ names, and email addresses. Now, teammates can start adding files and projects to the ACC project.

 

Our success in using ACC has shown that it can solve previous problems frequently occurring on projects. Some of these issues could occur when a teammate saves the file to their computer, and others cannot access it, not that it doesn’t happen occasionally. We found collaboration with contractors more successful by inviting them to our projects. We can limit their access using permissions to some folders so there is no fear of them getting into our project. We can place a copy of our project in a folder for their access or share the live project with limited permissions. Many of these choices relate to the relationship between my team and the contractors. Setup and consistency are key to making it work.

 

I should point out that not only the design team could use ACC. You can set up folders for other fields in your company to be able to have all information related to the project in one location. Imagine, accounting, contracts, bids, and any other information related to the project could kept in one location. I reached out to some people on my team to get their perspectives on what stood out about using ACC. One colleague remarked they “like not having to spend time detaching and trying to send a large file size to someone". Many brought up that it was much easier having everyone on one platform. "[ACC] makes the coordination between disciplines much easier", said one teammate. “I like being able to share projects with [our consultant firm overseas] without having any saving or access issues", remarked another.

 

We can access ACC anywhere and on any device, as long as we have internet access. We can put all kinds of files in ACC, allowing us to keep documents, photos, RVT, DWG, 3DS, NWC, NWD, PDF, MP4, and Microsoft Office file types. There are a lot more; it is just these that we use the most.

 

There are so many more things that somebody can do on ACC. These include creating issues, making notes for other teammates, comparing models, rolling back models to previous versions, and viewing the model without opening Revit. But training, as with all things, makes a difference in the adoption. The most successful members of our team were those who had completed some training before jumping into an ACC project. Some will treat it only as another place to save and share files. They may never get into all ACC’s bells and whistles.

 

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by Dzan Ta

 

Hello! My name is Dzan Ta, and I'm an Autodesk Expert Elite based out of Georgia. As an Authorized Autodesk Reseller, I ensure our clients get the best bang for their buck with their products. Here are some things I've learned since ACC became available to our clients.

 

With proper implementation of Autodesk Construction Cloud and all its capabilities, ACC can help quickly and effectively move a design from idea to concept to completion and beyond. ACC has been both a useful and frustrating experience for many professionals, depending on your profession. Depending on your role – Architect, Engineer, Owner, Contractor, Developer, etc –  you may have worked with ACC and seen the pros and cons from your specific perspective.

 

ACC's strongest functions seem to be focused primarily on the Architectural workflow and team. It then caters next to the Engineers (MEP, Structural). Next are the stakeholders who need to obtain data from the project in various file formats like Owners, Contractors, and Developers. Lastly are the Civil engineers, unfortunately. Cloud functions such as Autodesk Docs, Design Collaboration, and Model Coordination are designed for the architects and engineers who need to use Revit to collaborate and design in the cloud collaboratively. These functions work well for data storage, coordination, and model clash detection. 

 

ACC is also good at storing most file formats that the A/MEP/S team needs for working collaboratively. I receive very few negative comments about file incompatibility and useability from the A/MEP/S clients. Design, model coordination, and clash mitigation are also fairly easy to use with little pushback from this team. The only areas I received negative comments or concerns for improvement are within the Design Collaboration aspects using Packages and the Bridge function. The Package function initially seems unclear to our clients when they have not used it before. Fortunately, with some training, they are good to go.  

 

The Bridge function allows for cross-project data collaboration between hubs and projects from different stakeholders. It works for the most part, but I do get comments regarding making the workflow security even more stringent. Security of the data and how it is distributed for use such that “read-only” capabilities are still not fully possible. Once this aspect is solved, I believe more clients will use the Bridge function.

 

Unfortunately, I still see ACC lacking for the Civil team.  The data they produce is just as, if not more, complex than the other stakeholders. Uploading a 2D and 3D civil AutoCAD file into the project is fine. Linking the data to a Revit model is fine. Creating a Revit toposolid/toposurface from within Revit using the linked civil file is also fine. One area I believe ACC could use improvement is in how the 3D civil file is consumed on the ACC platform and how that data is used downstream. I have heard of some civil engineers who can’t do certain functions as part of their workflow, such as utilizing Sheet Set Manager within ACC Docs with a DST file, for example. Slow performance when opening and saving civil 3D files through Autodesk Desktop Connector is also of concern.  

 

But as with any product, it needs time to mature. Applications such as AutoCAD have been around “since the dinosaurs” so it’s quite developed, while ACC is still a fairly new product. ACC for Civil 3D workflow has improved through Docs, Design Collaboration, and Model Coordination recently so hopefully, there will continue to be less and less negative feedback in the near future. From my experience, it takes about 5 or more versions/years of work on an application before it’s considered developed well enough for clients to use. As a reseller, I know that with time, ACC will be an excellent product for all of our clients/stakeholders. Time and education are the key.

 

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