Uncovering the Hidden Benefits of Buying New Software
Technology has moved on a great deal in the last five years and clients are increasingly demanding geotechnical data to be included in models and drawings. As a result, it is an ideal time for companies to review their software systems and practices. However, many organizations are reluctant to invest time and money in new systems for a number of reasons, namely:
- They feel there is no need to change and that too much time and money has already been invested in current systems
- They see investment in software is expensive
- They believe training is costly, time-consuming and difficult to arrange
- Poor technical and customer support hampers efficiency and process improvement.
However, many of these assumptions are, in fact, myths. By tackling these head-on, organizations can build a robust business case for investment and reap the benefits of faster, more efficient and cost effective working.
Change is crucial to keep ahead of the competition
If a company is including geotechnical data in its CAD drawings using the same methods it was three years ago or not incorporating it in BIM at all, then its competitors are probably moving ahead. Technology is developing rapidly and what may have once been state-of-the-art, may no longer be the best solution.
Market-leading firms continually invest in their businesses to stay ahead – and this includes geotechnical CAD and BIM software (although, as a nimble software company, we would say that!).
“We replaced our gINT system with HoleBASE SI and the extension for AutoCAD Civil 3D, which has saved us a lot of time and delivers huge cost savings. The software is constantly being updated to suit wish lists and individual’s needs, with some big improvements being made over the past two or three years, which gives me confidence that Keynetix is willing to listen to the industry.”
David Cotton, Peter Brett Associates, Berkshire, UK
Wise investment does not have to be expensive and can save time and money
A good way to begin building a business case for investing in new software and systems is to evaluate the time and cost in carrying out a typical task, such as producing site plans and geological sections for an ‘average‘ project.
Say, for example, that an average project involves producing a site plan with 100 sampling locations and four sections including soil strength and rock quality information.
If a site plan takes 90 minutes to draw and if each section takes two hours to produce, plus a further 30 minutes each to create the final versions, then the total CAD time for this project will be 11.5 hours. At $75 per hour, the cost to the business would be $862.50.
If the CAD team completes 50 projects like this a year, then the annual cost of geotechnical CAD production would be around $43,125.
Now, say that the new software can draw a site plan in under a minute and each draft section can be produced in 20 minutes, with a further 30 minutes to complete each final version. Total CAD time for this project would be just under three and a half hours, at a cost of $262.50, saving $600 per project and $30,000 a year.
Even if the annual cost of investing in the new software is $5,000, the company will still save $25,000 a year.
In other words, every $1 invested in this process improvement delivers a saving of $5.00. This makes the argument for investing in the new system much stronger and the financial benefits will be greater with a higher hourly fee rate.
Keynetix has developed a Geotechnical BIM Cost Calculator to help companies review their own ‘average projects’ and to quickly work out the costs and potential savings that could be made and to evaluate if there is a business case to change. The calculator can show whether this a good short or medium term investment and of course indicates where process efficiencies can be made.
“HoleBASE SI and the Extension for AutoCAD Civils 3D is saving us about a week on moderate-sized projects, just by speeding-up the generation of geological profiles. If we are carrying out earthworks design, it can save us another week or two – material quantities information just falls out of the Extension for AutoCAD Civils 3D. It is saving us a lot of time and money.”
Andy Wilkins, Byrne Looby Partners, Co. Galway, Republic of Ireland
Automating processes will save more time and money
Drawing sections can be a long and drawn out process. Fortunately, tools are available which mean CAD and BIM team members should never have to manually enter data or draw any factual geotechnical objects in their models and drawings.
The Geotechnical Module for AutoCAD Civil 3D, for example, was written by Keynetix for Autodesk and allows geological information to be presented on site plans and sections by importing CSV data files exported from gINT. AutoCAD Civil 3D license holders can download the Geotechnical Module http://geotechnicalmoduletraining.keynetix.com and receive free step-by-step online training.
The HoleBASE SI Extension for AutoCAD Civil 3D is the ‘big brother’ system to the Autodesk Geotechnical Module, extending functionality for team working and to include any downhole parameters in models, sections and site plans. It also includes a live connection to the HoleBASE SI database, allowing Keynetix customers to benefit from dynamic update options.
You can view our ‘how to’ video on creating sections below – notice how long it takes…
Focused training to suit all needs is readily-available and delivers great ROI
Our research has demonstrated that specific, well-timed and focused training can deliver a very quick return on investment – typically about two months. There is training to suit every need and organization, including: internal mentoring, online videos and learning and face-to-face training.
Internal mentoring of new staff can be a good way of finding out how more experienced staff do things but it is important that bad habits are not passed on and exaggerated.
A wealth of free, or paid-for, training videos are available online. Keynetix, for example, has a free YouTube channel, and the Keynetix Assist knowledgebase. However, it is important to be strict about the time allowed to complete these ‘self-paced’ videos: too little time may rush staff; too much may lead to enthusiasm waning.
Web-based facilitated learning has improved in recent years as trainers have begun fixing teaching times, with live online training sessions. This makes it easier for learners to allocate time and enables trainers to set assignments and answer one-to-one questions.
However, by far and away the best way to learn is still in a face-to-face group learning environment. Companies that invest in on-site training generate powerful team dynamics and find it easier to standardize best practice across the team.
“Following my training with Keynetix and additional professional development, HoleBASE SI has enabled us to take data driven projects that used to take weeks down to just days, and data driven cross sectional base maps that used to take days can now be completed in under a day. HoleBASE SI is actively being used for several ongoing projects and has not only saved time for CAD Technicians, it has also saved time for Technical Staff members. We have increased efficiency and minimized room for errors from inception.”
Paul R Mascaro, Ramboll Environ, New Jersey, USA
Good customer service and support delivers ROI faster
Access to assistance and support is a prime consideration when investing in new software or services, as it will help encourage team members to drive efficiencies, if they feel expert advice is readily available.
This is particularly important when software and systems are being commissioned, as the team can lack the understanding and experience to set everything up in the most efficient way. Being able to tap into expertise can prevent wasting of days getting things right.
Keynetix puts training and support as the number one priority for its customers, so you can significantly reduce the time it takes to deliver a return on investment.
“Access to the Keynetix Assist website and responsive technical support from Dataforensics and Keynetix has given us confidence to increase our use and number of licenses of HoleBASE SI over the last 6 months. We have only had the Keynetix solution for 8 months and are already seen a positive return on our investment.”
John Erickson, Soils & Structures, Michigan, USA
Myth-busting with the Geotechnical BIM Cost Calculator
This article began with assumptions that hold investment back. With the help of input from a few of our customers you can see these are myths! By completing the Geotechnical BIM Cost Calculator you can evaluate the business case to change and whether it will be a good, short or medium term, investment.
We have helped hundreds of geotechnical companies improve their CAD presentation efficiency – to find out more, just complete the form below and we will contact you in the next day or two to arrange a time to help you with your review process.