Just Because We Can, Should We…?

While no technology or software project is perfect, if you take a moment and stop to look back over the past ten plus years we really have arrived at an amazing place when it comes to technology in AEC; and there is undoubtedly new things and new toys to come in the future. With that said however and interesting question can be raised, just because we can do something, should we?

How best to frame this thought? Just recently I had an occasion to be on what for me was a very interesting call whose primary topic was of how would we use technology to collaborate on an upcoming project. Interestingly, barring the misfortune of a wide area network and internet connection that is supposed to be upgraded in “60 – 90 days” (hello cable company…) and some work that is slated to be complete in our date center also within that wonderful “60 – 90 days” window this conversation would have revolved completely around the question of “how do you want to work”? What I mean is that were we three months in the future having this conversation there would literally be no limit to choices in front of this project team as to how they would like to work collaboratively both with internal “consultants” and external Architect of Record and additional external design consultants. We could (will) literally be able to offer them any option on the table today:

  • Everyone works together in the “public” cloud.
  • Everyone works together on Stantec systems (including the externals, without leaving their businesses).
  • Everyone works in their own little world and we ship data back and forth.

There are numerous permutations and combinations of those three key ways of collaboratively working together, and we could if so desired address most if not all of them.

Is it therefore my conclusion that we have reached some zenith in collaborative technology, absolutely not! Rather my point is that some have already and some of us will very quickly soon reach a point where the conversation no longer is:

“Well we can do this; but we can’t do that.”

to

“We can pretty much do whatever you want; so what do you want to do?”

And herein lies my point, just because we can do something, should we? Some folks at Autodesk like to refer to their current form of cloud based Revit work-sharing (Collaboration for Revit: C4R) as a “high trust environment”. Notwithstanding some of the technical and functional limitations of C4R, that statement is entirely accurate it is a high trust environment; heck working internally in Revit Server is a high trust environment itself. Putting a bunch of users on your virtual system de jour with access to the same file share is a high trust environment. Is there a point where too much collaboration is not  a good thing? We’ve seen projects come through where “the team” says “we all want to work in the same model”. More often than not our first response is not “you can’t do that” but “who is responsible for what?” and what is it that can actually help us achieve that goal? I’m not suggesting that shared data environments are bad, but I think like BIM itself ideas and terms about collaboration and working together get bandied about without people really understanding and whereas before we answer could be “we can’t do that” that is no longer a valid excuse, so how do we “do that” and still remain successful?

Intrigued, provoked to thought, sound familiar? Come to DTS and share your thoughts with us, got an idea, got a horror story? By discussing and sharing together as professionals we can work together to improve not just our own firms but the entire industry.

 

 

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