This Looks Like A Winner
I have used several Project Management Tools similar in concept to PlanGrid - Buzzsaw, Project Central, AutoCAD 360, Basecamp... What works so much better with PlanGrid is the ability to easily annotate your drawings inside the app and publish the markups to the whole project team. The markups could be coordination comments to the design team (or client!) in the design phases or correction comments to the contractor during the construction phase. PlanGrid really excels at graphic communications. Site photos are easily integrated into the drawings to enhance the punch list process, too.
Projects are set up on www.plangrid.com and shared to other team members by browser, tablet or phone (which works surprisingly well). Input by team members using a tablet is very easy, so annotations can be done anywhere.
One feature that is very cool is ’calibration’. By dimensioning a known element on a sheet, the app can then dimension unknown elements, curving lines and also report the area of drawn rectangles or free form shapes. Calibration is very handy...but sheets using several scales can be awkward. I could only change the calibration by removing everything referencing the initial calibration.
Another very cool feature is automatic hyper-linking of your detail call outs. Click on a detail bubble and you are automatically taken to the sheet where it is drawn. This is a feature that will get used constantly.
Other tools to assist with annotating:
Each annotation can remain ’local’ or be pushed to the Master Set where it is view-able by everyone. All of this is done using PDFs of your drawing sheets rather than CAD files or 3D modeling (BIM) files. Specs can be uploaded as attachments and don’t appear to use up your sheet allowance. And that gets us into cost. There is no charge for up to fifty sheets of drawings. After that the cost is $20/ month for up to 550 sheets or $50/month for up to 5000 sheets. Per account. As slick as this App is, and I really like how it is geared to architects, the pricing is going to be an issue for a lot of smallish firms. If you creep over the free 50 sheet limit, then two or three of you will be paying $20/month. Even so, I think there are enough benefits that many firms will find that it saves enough time to justify the expense. In any event, the free 50 sheets should allow you to try it out to see if it makes project management easier/better.
The learning curve is pretty flat, but there are a lot of features to master. Having the entire project team on PlanGrid would be ideal, but my experience is that a large percentage of the team will resist learning something new that changes their usual methods. PlanGrid may just offer enough benefits to overcome that inclination. PlanGrid is definitely worth a look.
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