AECbytes Feature (May 29, 2013)
AECbytes is wrapping up a research report comparing Bentley’s ProjectWise with Autodesk’s Vault Collaboration AEC for data management and collaboration in AEC. This was undertaken in response to the large number of readers who have written in to find out if such a comparison exists. As part of the research for the comparison, AECbytes conducted a brief survey among its readers to gather information about the usage of each solution—the benefits, challenges, most valued features, and so on. Those who were using ProjectWise, Vault, or any other data management and collaboration solution were invited to take part in the survey. The results of the survey are captured in this AECbytes article. They will also be part of the more detailed research report mentioned above, which will be available next month.
The survey results are shown here in three categories: the first capturing the overall responses (designated by “All” in the results’ graphs); the second showing the responses for those who selected ProjectWise as the solution implemented by their firm for data management and collaboration; and the third showing the responses for those who selected Vault Collaboration AEC. This enables a quick comparison of Bentley ProjectWise and Autodesk Vault Collaboration AEC from an implementation perspective.
The survey was launched on Feb 21 and was closed on May 17. The total number of respondents who took the survey was 333, providing a sufficient amount of data from which useful conclusions about ProjectWise and Vault could be drawn. The survey was designed to be as brief as possible to encourage more respondents to take it. While the survey was anonymous, it could be taken only once per computer. This was done so as to guarantee the integrity of the results—it was not possible to take the survey multiple times and skew the data.
The survey started out by asking respondents some basic information about their firms including the size, number of offices, whether they were national or international, and the type of AEC disciplines they practiced, all of which would be relevant to their implementation of a data management and collaboration solution.
Respondents were first asked about the main disciplines that were practiced in their firm. They could select multiple choices from a given list. The graph in Figure 1 compares the results of the three categories mention earlier: from all the responses; from those who selected ProjectWise; and from those who selected Vault Collaboration AEC. It shows that the firms most likely to use a data management and collaboration solution are Civil Engineering/Site Design firms, especially for ProjectWise users.
Figure 1. The responses to the question of the main disciplines practiced in the respondents’ firms. They were allowed to select multiple choices.
Next, respondents indicated the size of their firm. As shown in Figure 2, most users of data management and collaboration solutions, including ProjectWise, came from large firms with over 1000 people. In contrast, Vault users were more evenly spread out between 251-1000 people firms and those with over 1000 people.
Figure 2. The size of the respondents’ firms.
Similarly, the usage of a data management and collaboration solution, including ProjectWise, was more common in firms with over 20 offices, as shown in Figure 3. In contrast, the use of Vault is more evenly spread out between firms ranging from a single office to many offices.
Figure 3. The number of offices that each of the respondents’ firms have.
Also, it was not surprising that the usage of data management and collaboration solutions, including both ProjectWise and Vault, was more common in firms with multiple offices in the same country or in multiple countries, as shown in Figure 4. The only difference between ProjectWise and Vault here is that the use of Vault was higher in firms with offices in a single country than across multiple countries.
Figure 4. Respondents also indicated whether their firms had offices located in a single country or across different countries.
In response to the question of which solution was used by their firm for data management and collaboration, Figure 5 shows that the usage of ProjectWise far exceeds that of Vault Collaboration AEC at the present time—75% as opposed to 7.5%. A smaller proportion of firms use both solutions, while about 12.5% use other solutions, the most common ones being Newforma, SharePoint, Buzzsaw, and Box.com. Some of these firms also use FTP, email, or other in-house tools to manage and share project data. Overall, the dominant use of ProjectWise helps to explain why the “All” category in all the results’ graphs is closely aligned with the “ProjectWise” category.
Figure 5. The comparative usage of ProjectWise and Vault for data management and collaboration. A smaller number of firms indicated usage of other solutions.
The number of years the solution has been implemented at the respective firms is shown in Figure 6. Firms using ProjectWise have been implementing it for several years, while the usage of Vault has picked up more recently, peaking at 1 to 2 years in contrast to the 3 to 10 years peak for ProjectWise.
Figure 6. Responses to the question of how long the solution has been used at respondents’ firms.
In response to the question of whether the solution is used on all projects or only projects beyond a certain size, budget, or complexity, Figure 7 shows that ProjectWise was more likely to be used on all projects by a firm, whereas those using Vault Collaboration AEC were implementing it only on larger and more complex projects rather than across the board.
Figure 7. The projects on which a data management solution is more likely to be used.
The level of satisfaction the respondents had with the solution their firms had chosen to implement is shown in Figure 8. Here, the curve is somewhat similar both for ProjectWise and Vault, although the level of satisfaction is higher for ProjectWise compared to Vault.
Figure 8. The comparative levels of satisfaction of the solution that was implemented.
That said, most of the firms would be willing to recommend the solution to another firm, as shown in Figure 9.
Figure 9. Most of the respondents indicated that they would be willing to recommend the solution to another firm.
Respondents were then asked to rate different aspects of the solution on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 indicates the lowest rating and 5 the highest. The results for each of the seven categories are shown in the following graphs.
Figure 10. Rating for “Ease of deployment,” where 1 ranks the lowest and 5 the highest.
Figure 11. Rating for “Intuitive interface.”
Figure 12. Rating for “Comprehensiveness of features.”
Figure 13. Rating for “Integration with other applications.”
Figure 14. Rating for “Collaboration with internal team members.”
Figure 15. Rating for “Collaboration with external team members.”
Figure 16. Rating for “Return on investment.”
In looking at the graphs above, all the solutions rate the highest on the aspect of “collaboration with internal team members,” which is hardly surprising, given that this is one of the main reasons for adopting a data management and collaboration solution in the first place. With regard to “collaboration with external team members,” Vault does not rate as well as ProjectWise (see Figure 15). Vault also rates significantly lower than ProjectWise when it comes to comprehensiveness of features (see Figure 12). Where Vault and ProjectWise are most closely aligned are in the interface aspect, as shown in Figure 11. Neither solution rated very high on the “ease of deployment” aspect (Figure 10), with most respondents giving them an average score of 3.
Additionally, respondents were asked to list the top benefits of implementing the solution to their firms as well as the main challenges they had encountered. The responses to these were varied and no consistent theme emerged, which makes it difficult to capture them concisely in this article.
The final question asked respondents if their firms used any general-purpose (not AEC-specific) document storage solutions. The results are shown in Figure 17. The high usage of such solutions, especially of Microsoft SharePoint, indicates that AEC firms have a lot of non-project data that also needs to be stored and managed. It was interesting to note that Vault users deploy DropBox almost as much as SharePoint.
Figure 17. The percentage of firms using general-purpose document storage solutions, in addition to an AEC-specific data management and collaboration solution.
This concludes the results of the survey on the usage of Bentley ProjectWise and Autodesk Vault Collaboration AEC that was conducted among AECbytes readers, enabling a quick comparison of the two solutions for data management and collaboration from an implementation perspective. A more comprehensive overview of each solution, as well as a more detailed comparison, will be available in an upcoming research report.
Many thanks to all those who participated in the survey and provided their inputs!
Lachmi Khemlani is founder and editor of AECbytes. She has a Ph.D. in Architecture from UC Berkeley, specializing in intelligent building modeling, and consults and writes on AEC technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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