Helpful Questions

     
    How do your solutions compare to other contract manager/database software options?

    • We have a very rapid hosted SharePoint deployment option geared specifically for engineering and construction projects.  Use short-term 'rent a portal' approach or up to a long-term solid collaboration system.
       
    • There are plenty of answers for this throughout our website.  The short answer is we are focused on modern, flexible, easily learned, easy to use, quickly adopted, well-fitted, reliable, well-proven, and process-driven (valuable) solutions.  We’re going to help you ensure that your workflow and data flow is planned and understood.  Too many times, flashy, do-it-all software is chosen and then discarded because the new ‘tool’ didn’t fit the required process.   An organization’s processes can be changed, but not always.  Thus, we use a modular delivery approach to provide building-block solution components that can be deployed and put to use rapidly.  This is done while still focusing on the long-term, strategic direction and goals of the client.
       
    • We use a document-first with data-added strategy as opposed to a data-first then attach documents approach.  This is more flexible and it recognizes that everyone uses documents, and documents are what are needed from bid to closeout (to courtroom).
       

    Do you have mobile solutions?

    • Oh Yes!   We leverage iPad and smart phone functionality to provide remote access options while retaining the SharePoint portal as the central source of record.   Many of our solution components are specifically tested and tweaked to provide an optimal mobile user experience.
       

    I don't like some things about SharePoint.  What do you offer to get me past that?

    • We have received extensive positive feedback on our SharePoint deployments.   We offer better user experiences, especially in the area of electronic forms, content find-ability, and consistent organization of files.

    • We have a GIS Map-to-SharePoint interface that provides a user experience like none other on SharePoint!
       

    How are you different from other I.T. and SharePoint service providers?

    • There are many ‘standard’ I.T. services available to you.  What we uniquely bring to the table are our engineering and construction document management, and distributed paperless collaboration solutions experiences.  We understand the AEC business (and many other industries) and continuously seek to match current software (i.e. SharePoint, VisualFusion, Muhimbi, Adobe, Bluebeam Revu, etc.) and data solutions needed in that industry.  We are experts in the process of collecting data in a useful and consistent manner (making your data an asset), so that it is reliable for roll-up reporting, decision-making, and taking action on it.  We partner with our clients and we ask questions and provide leadership beyond I.T.  People are always involved.  We understand the human interface needs and the impacts of change.  This is the case whether it involves asset management, O&M systems, infrastructure projects, reporting systems, or a data warehouse. We provide end-to-end value -- from the initial ideas to productive solution usage.
       

    Are you able to provide us hardware and technical support in addition to web portal solutions?

    • Yes!  We can be your full I.T. partner in the critical support components needed on remote Programs (i.e. outside your corporate office).  This could be a valuable option to you as it has been to others.  Due to this closely integrated role, we are able to be much closer to the operational pulse and can provide solutions, enhancements, and training to keep things evolving as your Program grows.  Feedback we often receive is the appreciation for the forward, ‘out ahead’ thinking and advice we provide.
       

    Can you help us if we don’t have SharePoint and don’t plan to use SharePoint?

    • Yes.  Due to our extensive expertise in understanding document management, construction, program management, and reporting needs, we can provide valuable assistance in leveraging non-SharePoint solutions to gain efficiency and lower information management risks.  We can provide database hosting and document solutions as tools in solid processes.  But, if you want to get started easily in SharePoint via a hosted, software as a service arrangement, we can help with that also.
       

    What is the professional process to get us up and running with CMBoost Forms or other ProgramNet solutions?

    • Step 1 – Clarify your expectations and our understanding of your needs.  Sometimes an inaccurate perception of our solutions is pursued, leaving misunderstanding as a result.  We have extensive experience and want to do what is best for you based on that.

    • Step 2 – Discuss your current information management (documents, data, forms) process flows, the new desired or required processes, and the gaps between the old and new.  This would include software or systems that you now have that you need to keep or replace.  If you don’t have existing process flows documented, then we can help you complete that critical activity.

    • Step 3 – Confirm in writing the results of Step 2 and include possible solutions approaches.  We are into glove-fit delivery that is best for your operations versus drastically changing and limiting your operation to fit a canned software.

    • Step 4 – Identify and focus on the top three things you need first.  If one is a ‘report’ or dashboard, then we will need to review the data collection and flow side of that.

    • Step 5 – Agree on delivery timeframes.
             
    • Step 6 – We deliver initial, rapid prototypes for further discussion, agreement, and focusing.
       

    Are you able to guide us on document management strategy or other best practices?

    • Yes.  And, do you mind if we encourage and apply best practices?  That might be a funny question, but it isn’t asked often enough.  And, not all best practices require software.  Sometimes we advise use of valuable people instead of automation to provide active involvement, quality assurance, and continuity in information management processes.  Process mapping is crucial to identifying strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities.  Solid document and records management is critical to any organization.  SharePoint 2010 and 2013 (versus 2007) offers many new features for robust document and records management (setting your SharePoint opinion with the 2007 version is a big mistake).  Put the power of Content Types, Metadata, Term Stores, Versioning, Search, Forms Management, Metadata Navigation, Document ID assignment, and Workflow to work for you.
       

    What do you bring to the table specifically for AEC and municipal projects?

    • We have over 10 years of recent experience in developing and deploying modern web-based portal and database solutions in the public, capital improvements sector.  AEC projects have special needs that aren’t present within corporate walls.  We help bridge that gap while helping with the document, financial, data, and reporting management that is essential to on-time, on-budget, high-safety, low-litigation project delivery.  We understand the unique needs of AEC Programs and strive for simplicity over complexity.  This has led to very successful adoption of processes and solutions.  Communication, change management, and training are also components we provide to ensure success.
       

    Are you able to integrate with other systems for financial data, schedule data, etc?

    • Yes.  And, we have a proven process for successfully avoiding the ‘hard wiring’ of separate systems together.  Coupling systems too tightly together is like doing a two-legged race with somebody much taller than you.  Our approaches will help ensure that your reporting will be successful and your teams will continue to do what they do best with the financial systems they need and are familiar with.  We seek to allow your valuable people to do what they do best, without applying new, unrelated burdens to them (i.e. not turning engineers into document managers, or schedulers into database administrators).  Different systems run on different time-based data cycles.  Be very aware of that if you are going to tightly couple systems together even for a few data elements.
       

    Are your solutions an all-or-nothing approach?

    • No.  We have over 25 years in I.T. solutions delivery experience.  That experience is used to avoid the ‘do it all’ software perception that increases frustration and costs to the client.  Usable deployment and user adoption is often slower when the solution is too encompassing.  We use a very successful modular approach.  That involves multiple, smaller deployment cycles from which we all experience, learn, revise, and grow from.  Every organization and project we’ve worked with has been different in many ways (SharePoint is so valuable for this).  In delivering successful outcomes, we recognize that these differences will exist.
       

    Do you do custom coding in SharePoint?

    • We strive to stay as close to ‘out of the box’ (use what comes with the software) as much as possible.  That means we follow best practices for your SharePoint environment and avoid a potentially less stable and less maintainable platform, created via custom code.  We strive to create solutions that are maintainable by the client.  If custom coding is truly needed, we can provide the guidance and testing regimen needed to ensure quality delivery.  SharePoint is an extremely robust platform that can fulfill many needs without programmer-level customizations.
       

    What are your pricing options?

    • We typically work on a monthly subscription basis, but can do time and materials, hourly bill rate basis when needed (also see the ‘What working arrangement have you found to work best?’ question below).  This applies to small solutions as well as large in order to allow for the best application of our expertise.  We are not into nickel and diming on license or component fees.  Our powerful hosted ProPortal solutions are the best way to go!
       

    Are you insured?

    • Yes.  We carry the customary business liability insurance coverage and professional liability coverage.
       

    What working arrangement have you found to work best?

    • The best one is a partner-level subscription arrangement.  This is one where we are available all the time for support, idea evolution, needs or opportunity identification, problem fixing, one-on-one training,  solution delivery, and at-will solution enhancements.  This works because of our skills, experience, dependability, leadership, focus on quality, honesty, integrity, and long-term client-focused thinking.  This can remove a big burden in many major projects.  An annual, not-to-exceed contract is used for this to make budgeting easier, and to remove the limitations and ‘gotchas’ from hard scopes.
         
    • We want to set it up so you are not penalized for not thinking of everything in advance.
       

    What is the good and bad about SharePoint?

    • Many organizations don’t seem to understand or have the leadership to make the tremendous power of SharePoint valuable to them.  It is a robust tool best leveraged by strategic guidance and governance.  A big positive of SharePoint is its flexibility.  A big potential negative of SharePoint is its flexibility.  This becomes apparent in the absence of big-picture thinking, lack of experience, and improper transitioning from the ‘SharePoint experiment’ that many organizations do.  Oftentimes, SharePoint is used as a larger, messier electronic filing cabinet.  Simply moving folders of files from your servers into SharePoint (i.e. into a database on another server) is like using a dump truck for a commuter vehicle (much unused potential and costly to have around).  SharePoint offers a new paradigm in engineering document and information management, including advanced search, versioning, retention control, and workflow integration.  It can easily grow and evolve (in a valuable way) with the organization’s needs when it is set up and governed properly.
       
    What versions of SharePoint do you work with?
    • We currently focus on SharePoint 2013 Enterprise-level functionality but have done extensive work with the SharePoint Online/Office 365, 2010, and 2007 versions.