Even in case of smaller projects, communication needs to be organised very well so that all of the participants are always working with the same version. And if multiple projects need to be edited in parallel, it’s nearly impossible to maintain an overview using conventional e-mail, Dropbox, and so on without spending too much time.
But how can plan management be made perfect? Over the last 15 years in the project management sector, I’ve created this wish list:
1. A simple system for all projects
All projects should be organised in a simple and clearly laid-out plan management system. The software should run in any web browser without installation. After online registration, you can add your own projects right away. With just one login, now you have access to all projects from anywhere, at any time. The interface must be clearly laid-out and user-friendly enough that it’s possible to operate without training.
2. One version of information for all project participants
All project participants, from the general contractor to the planners and the various contractors should be brought together in a virtual project room after receiving an invite. All participants upload their plans and are informed if their are updates. The latest version of plans must be clear, which is ensured by a revision system (= plan stack, i.e. obsolete plans are in the background). A well thought-out filter system should make every plan easy to find and reduce errors during use (e.g. a plan from the static engineer should be saved automatically under their role). The filter should be able to be adjusted flexibly to maintain the internal company folder structure.
Creating individual plan lists must be possible at the push of a button.
3. Seamless documentation of plan exchanges
Every activity like uploading, sending, downloading, etc. must be documented seamlessly. It must be apparent in each plan, when it was downloaded and by whom, participants must be documented, and a filterable overall view of all project activities is also essential. This is the best way to maintain control over plan maintenance, adherence to deadlines, etc.
4. Sophisticated plan approval system
Approval should also be able to be issued using the software. In this case, the affected participants are awarded plan approval permission. As soon as approval is requested, corrections and text messages may be attached and the author is informed about this automatically. During sending, all additional information must be included. The status “Waiting for approval”, “Corrected”, and “Approved” must be marked clearly in the plan list.
5. Project backup for archiving on a proprietary system
Each project must be able to be saved as an independent program on my own computer. The program should run in every web browser without installation. The complete project can therefore be easily archived or distributed to contractual partners.
I’ve wasted so much time over the years with documentation of plan deliveries, burning CDs, introduction to projects when representing colleagues, searching for approval in case of building damage, etc.
I’ve always dreamed of a simple solution. Unfortunately, this didn’t exist. It became clear to me that it wouldn’t just be a big help to me, but also to many of my peers, if you someone would develop a software solution for this. And that’s exactly what I did together with my three team members.
The result is Planfred, an online tool for plan management.
DI Martina Schmid
Product Development, EU Sales
2003: Completion of architecture program at Vienna Technical University
2003-2014: Architecture project manager at Erste Group Immorent Vienna
2014-2015: Architecture project manager at MES Real Estate Services GmbH
Planfred co-developer and customer support at Planfred since 2011