Effective Issue and Defect management in Engineering and Construction

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Managing issues and defects in fabrications or snag lists in finished buildings is a vital part of all phases in engineering and construction projects. Whether is it minor amendments to a design model or drawing that need alteration, defects found on a client inspection or general maintenance issues covered under a supplier warranty these all need addressing by the relevant responsible person or allocated resource.

  • How well are these issues managed at the moment in your projects and are they all visible in the same place for management oversight?
  • Can subcontractors and inspectors from other companies also be involved in the workflow associated from initial identification through to resolution, for example?
  • What about time spent working on issues, can this be recorded and the responsible party then be billed easily for the work?
  • What about supporting information, can it be added on mobile devices and also original drawings and specifications referred to?

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What if there was a solution to address ALL of the above and more?

Comprehensive Issue management within a project planning and document management solution provides the features to streamline your handling of these defects.

Here is what you can expect from such a tool:

  • Using documents stored in a document archive, relevant ‘As Built’ or design models relating to the latest version of the asset at fault can be linked to the issue for easy reference for the engineer assigned.
  • Issues can be raised and assigned on a mobile device including pictures taken on your smartphone, raised by email with relevant attachments sent directly to the issue management system or on a PC in the office.
  • Resources can be allocated, they can record time against the issues and this can be reported and billing invoices created.
  • Users are invited by email to a secure workspace and can if required just be given access to the issues module and only those projects relevant to them.
  • Issues can be categorised by project managers and the in-built charting used to give management and stakeholders an insight into trends and which areas problems are occurring and how efficiently they are resolved.

 

About Webforum Professional

Webforum is a complete web-based service for all types of projects and collaboration. The system provides users with everything that supports a project available in one place: documents, files, project plans, issues, discussions, time sheets, risks, reports etc.

Webforum provides the project the means to collaborate in a secure and controlled environment for all project phases from planning to implementation and monitoring. Webforum is a trusted SaaS provider with over 700 customers in 20 countries operating since 1997.

To see how Webforum can help you with collaboration, please contact us or visit the website. Alternatively, read more in the case study about how Webforum helped ProHeat an innovative Engineering company.

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Download ProHeat Systems Customer Case Study

 

Follow Webforum on LinkedIn

 

Company Directors – how the cloud will affect board decisions

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At our recent annual Webforum company conference just outside Stockholm, Pelle Hjortblad (formerly CEO of Project Place and now on the Webforum Europe board) gave an introductory speech on Cloud Computing and the impact it will have on companies everywhere.

A lot is written about this subject and like everything potentially disruptive there is often a lot of hype on what it will mean and how it will change things. Here we explore a few of the many questions in the subject and take a decision-makers perspective.

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The changing face of the IT department – why do it all in-house?

IT has faced change as computer power has increased and moved from centrally run machines to PCs on every desk and then the expansion of internet usage to communicate and transact with the outside world. This evolution has shifted control and even power to internal IT departments and formed a large share of a company’s costs.

Most companies had a large IT department requiring high internal knowledge to understand business needs, manage changes and upgrades to infrastructure. Add to that the need to keep up with advances in technology and not to mention the latest security threats. Often companies IT expertise exceeded that of their core business.

Cloud computing is changing that strain on the IT department to be experts in all areas of technology by shifting the responsibility for many functions to vendors and their specialist data hosting providers. This should allow IT to focus their valuable resources on the needs of their company rather than just fighting to keep systems operational.

Information security: the cloud is probably already in your company

With the increase in free or very low cost personal management tools for sharing files and other information many teams within organisations are bypassing the IT department and just using these to help them be more productive.

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Do you know who has access to what information as well as whether data integrity and audit trails are being maintained according to company policies? After all certain company information is more likely to be of more interest to internal staff than anyone external – it is not just overall access but the ability to control who has access to what.

With the spread of social media and demands on project productivity making the right tools available is still essential. Using online enterprise-class tools for collaboration and information management gives access to the right people while maintaining oversight.

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Collaboration is key to success – keep everyone informed inside and outside the organization

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To ensure the smooth running of any project, collaboration is vital, not only within your company but with external partners also. But how do you keep in touch with everyone and ensure that they are looking at the latest, most up-to-date information?

That’s where online project management software can be of huge benefit.

All items relating to a project are in one place – documents, files, project plans, discussions, time sheets, risks, analytic reporting etc. This makes it easy to collaborate, communicate and share information with all the project participants, no matter where they’re located.

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A system such as Webforum is cloud-based, so is available any time, anywhere, on any web-enabled device. It also includes a built-in document viewer so you can see CAD designs on your tablet or smartphone, even if you haven’t got CAD installed on those particular devices.

No project is too large or too small to benefit from such a system.

However, the larger a project or programme is, the more important it becomes to use different channels to disseminate information and for participants to collaborate.  With this in mind, the Webforum service includes the following features:

  • calendar
  • task lists
  • discussion forum
  • contact database
  • e-mail distribution
  • SMS dispatch
  • internal web pages

In short, everything you need to keep everyone in touch with what’s going on with the project.

To see how Webforum can help you with collaboration, please contact us or visit the website. Alternatively, read more in the case study about how Webforum helped Pro-Heat.

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Download Pro Systems Customer Case

 

 

Follow Webforum on LinkedIn

Why Move to the Cloud? 10 Benefits of Cloud Computing

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At our recent annual Webforum company conference just outside Stockholm, Pelle Hjortblad (formerly CEO of Project Place and now on the Webforum Europe board) gave an introductory speech on Cloud Computing and the reasons companies move to the cloud. Here are some of the main points:

1. Flexibility
65% of respondents to an Information Survey said ” the ability to quickly meet business demands” was an important reason to move to cloud computing.

2. Disaster recovery
Cloud computing providers take care of most issues, and they do it faster. Aberdeen Group found that business which used the cloud were able to resolve issues in an average of 2.1 hours, nearly four times faster than businesses that didn’t use the cloud (8 hours).

3. Automatic software updates
In 2013, In Sweden, companies spent 18 working days per month managing on-site security alone.

4. Cap-Ex Free
Fast to deploy, minimal Project start-up costs and predictable ongoing operating expenses.

5. Increased collaboration
A survey by Frost & Sullivan found that companies which invested in collaboration technology had a 400% return on investment (ROI).

6. Work from anywhere
One study found that 42% of working adults would give up some of their salary if they could telecommute, and on average they would take a 6% pay cut.

7. Document Control
“73% of knowledge workers collaborate with people in different time zones and regions at least monthly”.

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8. Security
Some 800,000 laptops are lost each year in airports alone.

9. Competitiveness
The cloud grants SMEs access to Enterprise-class technology.

10. Environmentally friendly
SMEs get the most benefit: for small companies, the cut the energy use and carbon emissions is likely to be 90%.

Cloud Computing

About Webforum

Webforum has been in cloud computing since 1997 and provides a complete web-based service for all types of projects and collaboration.

Webforum provides users with everything that supports a project available in one place: documents, files, project plans, discussions, time sheets, risks, reports etc. Webforum supports all project phases from planning to implementation and monitoring.

For more information see www.webforum.com

Getting the most out of your resources

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Resource planning is an essential aspect of project management.

No one has limitless resources, so making the most of what you’ve got, when you’ve got it, is key to success and keeping costs to a minimum.

Project management software can assist you with this, and give you the necessary clarity you need to make this task easier.

It enables you to plan the resources you need to carry out the activities within projects, and to see how resources are allocated to various projects to get the best utilisation.

A system like Webforum offers two kinds of resource overview – one shows resources per activity, and there is also a summary screen that shows for each resource all the various projects and activities to which they are allocated at any time.

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As an example of how it works, you may not know when you plan a project who is going to perform a certain task, just the type of resource that is required.

In that case you can create a resource called ‘Quality Inspector’ and allocate, say, 100 hours of quality control for the project.

You can then search for resources belonging to different categories or roles, to see which employees are able to work in the role of quality reviewers, and who has time unassigned to them at that moment when you need to conduct a quality review.

The Webforum system also allows the creation of custom reports that show what resources are working on what via the integrated decision support/reporting tool.

It is cloud-based, available on any web-enabled device, so is there whenever or wherever you need it.

For more information on how we can help you with your resource planning, please contact us or visit our website.

Alternatively, read more in the case study about how Webforum helped ProHeat a fast-growing innovative Engineering company.

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ProHeat Systems Customer Case Study

 

About Webforum Project
Webforum is a complete web-based service for all types of projects and collaboration. The system provides users with everything that supports a project available in one place: documents, files, project plans, discussions, time sheets, risks, reports etc.

Webforum supports all project phases from planning to implementation and monitoring. For more information see our Website or Follow Webforum on LinkedIn

Webforum (UK) attends COMIT Community day as new member

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What is COMIT (Construction Opportunities for Mobile IT)?
COMIT is a UK organisation with the objective of bringing together technology and Construction companies in order to bring some of the benefits from technology solutions to a wider audience within construction. COMIT holds 4 community days a year and an annual conference each autumn.

‘The COMIT Community days provide a relaxed forum for both learning from some of the many case study projects between members and also some key industry-wide initiatives such as BIM and Mobi-Cloud’, says Colin. ‘It is particularly encouraging to see the additional active participation of the Universities in the Community days and wider collaboration as they can often offer a new perspective to the future direction of Technology’, he continues. 

Webforum’s objectives in joining COMIT
Webforum (UK) joined COMIT to further develop the company’s presence in the UK and in particular to build on successful alliances within the Construction and Infrastructure sectors in Scandinavia. ‘In line with one of Webforum’s core aims to offer a complete solution to managing complex projects, participating in discussion and evaluating the challenges and opportunities within Mobile IT is very important’, says Colin.

‘Webforum’s core support of Information Management, collaboration and Project Planning are at the very heart of every project and will continue to remain so. What is changing, is the ability to capture and process information on assets, issues and changes in the schedule in real-time and out in the field. Cloud computing enables this and mobile devices will play a more important role in providing a source of or access to the data when it is needed’, he adds.

‘Webforum’s experience in being a leading solution and a solution of choice from some of the largest Construction and Infrastructure projects in Scandinavia is also something that should bring benefits to the UK market. Scandinavia has often been leading in initiates within Europe in fast internet access and more specifically in online collaboration including BIM (Building Information Modelling) and also Urban Planning’, states Colin.

Colin summarises: ‘In short we are looking forward to a lasting and mutually beneficial relationship with COMIT and its members. This includes other Technology members as a number of these offer specific solutions to problems that are out there but also have a need to be integrated into the wider project context.’

Members attending a COMIT Community day

Members at a COMIT Community Day

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The Importance of Managing your Documents Effectively

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Effective document management is essential for all companies involved in and kind of design and build work. When running projects, you and your colleagues need instant access to the latest information, without the fear of duplication, or viewing out-dated documents.

Traditionally, however, when using PC-based software, this hasn’t always been easy.

For example, you may be struggling to control project documentation including versions, revisions and approvals.This in turn means that you can’t trust which version of a document is current, and if you don’t have tracking of approvals this can lead to compliance issues – disastrous in heavily regulated industries in which a lot of you are working.

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However, if you switch to using cloud-based project management software, frustrating scenarios such as these can be eliminated.

Available at any time, from any web-enabled device including tablets and smartphones, project management software from Webforum has a document archive with in-built version management and review/approval workflows.

This ensures that the latest information is available at your fingertips, but keeps an accurate history of previous versions, and details who approved what document, where and when.

You can also set permissions, so you have complete control over who updates and amends project paperwork.

This gives complete clarity for all your project documentation, whenever you need it, no matter where you are.

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Does your role in a project affect your view of the overall plan?

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Working on large and complex projects can often make you as a team member feeling frustrated. Even more so, if obstacles are constantly being put in your way to stop you actually focussing on delivery. Here’s a Business Analyst’s perspective on some of the challenges for the team in such Projects.

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Taking project planning and task management for instance, how often do the tasks you see in your time sheet not match what you are working on or are so high level just to say which projects you are working on? Why is that? Perhaps that’s because they were put in place by the PMO or Senior management team early on without considering the detail or if the timelines were realistic? And they haven’t been updated since.

‘Perhaps the detail is not needed by some (like the Finance department) and that’s who put it in place originally. Fair enough, but if nobody knows what I’m doing they’ll think I’m not needed or I can take on supporting that new project that’s being talked about, that’s about right?’, a team member mutters.

‘Best I keep a list of my tasks so I know what I’m doing and well I’m sure my PM will no doubt ask for something to include in her status report. The design does seem to be more complex that at first thought though and new tasks are coming from finding the initial assumptions need more investigation… I’ll add them to MY list’, I conclude.

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A few weeks pass and then the dreaded day before the steering group. It seems like panic around and sure enough all the PMs are looking for something to include in their status reports. Time to hand over my activity list perhaps? Or perhaps not, time to spend putting it into the Word document for the report and also it needs to be made ‘more readable’. ‘So these are complete then?’ Asks the PM. ‘Well yes, but we also need to look at these OTHER tasks now before the design can be delivered… Those assumptions in the charter, well…’, I respond.

Following the steering group it’s now all hands-on from the PMs with Senior management starting to take an interest in the slightest detail. Even dragging me into a meeting to discuss why their initial assumptions just won’t hold. That’s what status ‘RED’ does, and of course more frequent and detailed status reports it seems I’ve become a part PM myself. I wish I had time to JUST get on with delivering the project!

Does this sound familiar and could this situation have been avoided? 

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Project control and audit trails: why file-sharing is not enough in Engineering

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Lots of Engineering companies work in highly regulated industries. The need for accurate paperwork, traceability and accountability is Paramount. Access to the latest versions of documents is essential for all the members of the team, wherever they are located.However, where you have field offices, or staff members travelling around the country, sharing such important information can be problematic – particularly if the master copies are held on a PC in head office, for example.

These were problems faced by ProHeat Systems Ltd, a company supplying preheating solutions to clients such as the large gas network suppliers.

Custom Preheating Solutions for the Gas Industry

They were using DropBox and Excel but needed a more efficient solution which could be accessed when required by their teams in the field.

Then their MD Stefan Romocki discovered Webforum, a cloud-based project management software solution, available anytime, anywhere, from any web-enabled device.

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