Collaboration through Connection: Solving the Challenges of Interoperability

November 5, 2019 Kelly Doyle

Check out the podcast featuring ProjectReady’s CEO, Joseph Giegerich & COO, Kelly Doyle as they talk about system interoperability challenges in the AEC and how improving user experience through connected cloud systems helps firms become more effective and efficient:



The Two Levels of Interoperability in the AEC


External Interoperability

The ability to share data and content between systems from 2 different companies is called external interoperability. Owners, architects, engineers and specialty contractors frequently find themselves required to work inside a common data environment or platform specified by the project’s prime or general contractor. While this helps to centralize data and content for the entire project, the platform does not help these organizations drive process and efficiency within their own operations requiring them to log and track content internally in a second location.  A lack of external interoperability creates extra work. Industry consolidation though mergers and acquisitions, creates a similar problem when trying to unify content and data across these new sister companies. 

These situations lead AEC firms to pursue the “Holy Grail” of interoperability which allows content approvals and RFIs to be created in one system yet processed, tracked and answered in a connected system without the need for re-keying or manual logs. For this to happen, AEC firms need a system, or system of systems to drive internal interoperability.



Internal Interoperability

AEC firms by their nature include design workflows and office workflows which each have specialized digital tools. The design team often uses tools from Autodesk to author content and store files in the companion BIM 360 while office workers author content in Word and Excel and store that content in a Microsoft environment like SharePoint. This helps the teams individually be most efficient but causes siloes which makes it harder to combine the content into approval packages to meet contractual obligations.

Integrating internal best in class tools around process driven workflows yields internal interoperability. Creating a user experience that unifies these tools through a single pane of glass amplifies the efficiency gains, helps organizations become most efficient and sets the stage for external Interoperability. 


The Emergence of the Cloud and Promise of a Connected Enterprise

Historically, AEC software tools have been on-premise and siloed. Some of this was due to technical constraints and some was fears over security. Over the last couple of years however, many AEC business leaders have come to recognize that Microsoft, Amazon and Google data centers are far more secure than their local networks and cloud tools are creating near real time insight into every aspect of their business. Additionally, many technology providers are embracing “competition” and recognizing that integrating siloed data streams into a synergistic tech stack drives tremendous value for end users.  Using API’s and web hooks, platform integration is much faster and easier than even a few years ago making the promise of interoperability a reality.


AEC firms have multiple choices in technology platforms for authoring, storing and distributing content, but they shouldn’t wait for one system to finally put together all the functionality they need to run their business. Instead, they should invest in systems that bring together applications they already own that their teams are trained on and drive repeatable processes across their enterprise.


Driving Interoperability Through User Experience

Integrating applications into a system of systems is a foundational step to help data flow between applications. However, a user experience that creates an end to end workflow regardless of how many underlying systems are in play unlocks the true value of interoperability.  

Enterprise users are increasingly expecting a user experience we call “the retail effect”. When ordering a product from Amazon, purchasers love the frictionless experience of a product showing up when expected without any concern about the complex supplier network that fulfilled the order. Similarly, compiling content to meet contractual deliverable submissions from multiple systems like SharePoint and BIM 360 should be as easy as adding files to a shopping cart connected to a flexible approval and distribution process. The complex digital plumbing required to compile and send content is transparent to the user. They just know that the right content made it to the right people with visibility and auditability. 


ProjectReady - Driving Interoperability with Collaboration through Connection

Reducing chaos, driving interoperability and mitigating risk in document control requires an intuitive user experience that connects project workflows across role specific tools. ProjectReady accomplishes this by facilitating collaboration through connection in a single context – the project. 

Scalable, easy to use and priced for value, ProjectReady’s DCNext creates reusable, automated standards that drive uniform process and control across systems users already own. DCNext leverages existing investment in Office 365, by automatically provisioning SharePoint and Microsoft Teams for each project ID creating a central point of project collaboration and document sharing with a simple, intuitive solution. DCNext also automatically provisions BIM 360 and Box around the same project ID allowing users to store content in their platform of choice. 


With all systems brought together by ProjectReady, submittal, RFI and other document control processes are all in context of the project. This context helps eliminate the 35% of time wasted looking for the right content, dramatically reduces the risks of missed deadlines, and drives accurate tracking and reporting. 

ProjectReady integrates SharePoint, BIM 360, and a growing array of connections to other systems, to allow users to register content, review content, and submit content for approval with automated logging, reporting and cover sheets for full visibility into your process.

Learn more about ProjectReady at



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