by Rakesh Sharma
Published on 13 July 2011
This one's a first for me. Most software that we have reviewed, so far, seems to belong either to the financial services industry or some aspect of the technology industry. This week, we will look at a different kind of industry: construction management. We will review EADOC: a SaaS application targeted at professionals in the construction management industry. We will look at its interface, features, and see how it can be of use to you.
According to its founder Eric Law, EADOC derives much from his work in the industry as a project engineer. Law says the idea behind EADOC's collaborative project management application is to connect entire project teams electronically for improved information control and reduced project costs.
Obviously, we have heard the spiel before.
So, the natural next question is what's unique about the software. Law singles out information flow and a distributed administration model as the software's unique attributes. The former enables project managers and team leaders to control information flow between their subs and parent. The latter enables them to add multiple users, including contractors and vendors, and assign permissions. Interestingly, licence costs are not an issue here; you can add an unlimited number of users to the application without worrying about costs. Instead, the application charges use costs based on construction value of the project and duration. "This encourages clients to add their entire team resulting in greater cost savings and improve collaboration for the client," says Law, adding that their pricing model encourages clients to use the application. Other software vendors pricing models discourage use of the product, ours encourages the clients to use the application.
GETTING YOUR HANDS DIRTY
EADOC claims to be an online project management software that controls information flow across the project, thus increasing project efficiencies and decreasing project costs.
Let's look at each of these assertions individually.
Information flow across each project is a function of establishing a process for information and customizing that information for each user. That, in itself, is a function of permission-based systems and display and entry of information. EADOC scores pretty well, on both counts.
The software has process-centric features such as RFI (or request for information) for project participants to share information and collaborate with each other. In addition, RFIs can result in CCR or Contract Change Requests or CO (Change Orders).
The distributed administration model is an interesting concept to tailor and distribute information through the project. The profile tab in the software is a combination of several attributes including division, program, project, organization, user, equipment, material, and craft. I logged in as a project member (as opposed to a project manager); hence, I had limited administrative capabilities.
However, even then, I liked what I saw.
For example, the start screen displays useful and important project summary snapshot. This includes vitals such as project budget, time, contracts pending, and contracts approved. Moving across the tabs, I could view contract information, funding and detailed budget information, , pay estimates and risk and schedule of values which consists of a detailed cost break down for a single contract.
One of my favorite features while working across multiple tabs were the sticky notes. The notes, which come in different colors and sizes, are used to tag project documents for important characteristics. For example, a yellow note is a standard sticky note or comment. However, a green one indicates a comment about LEED compliance. Law says the software takes green compliance pretty seriously and is committed to green projects. "We enable our teams to track and control their LEED information electronically resulting in greater environmental and cost savings benefits for our clients," he says.
Customization, according to Law, is another benefit. "EADOC forms, drop down menus, field labels, and tabs can all be customized to meet the clients needs," he says. The customizations are done directly through the application. This is because their web services API is closed to protect customer data security. This also means that you do not need to pay extra for customizations.
THE BASICS: WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
The interface was pretty simple and, frankly, has wonderful colors. Most software seem to be stuck in seas of blues or some other muted colors. EADOC is bright, bold, and colorful. In addition, the interface is simple: you can navigate using the tabbed interface on the left or using a panel of links at the top. The tabbed interface is the master navigation while the panel of links at the top essentially represents the menu structure within the master navigation. So, you don't really need to worry about remembering menu items.
SUPPORTING YOUR SYSTEM
Although I was largely pleased with the system, this is one area where it could have been better and interactive. While the initial flash presentation does a good job of explaining basics, it does not really create a comprehensive case for the solution. It might be an idea for the folks behind this solution to craft a compelling user-case scenario derived from the construction management industry. In addition, there is only one form of support: an online help system. Including Youtube videos as well as other forms of interactive help might just help explain the system better. Ditto with user forums, which might also end up generating user features.
IS IT FOR YOU?
I would recommend the software for users who are interested in multiple aspects of their software into one product. It is an excellent web-based project management software, if nothing else, because it integrates interesting and useful features into one solution. In addition, I was pretty intrigued by their pricing model; I guess it is value for money!