Design Collaboration - A Workflow for Better Collaboration
Updated: Jan 16
If you are a user of BIM 360 or ACC (Autodesk Construction Cloud), you may have seen the Design Collaboration module inside the platform. What is it? What are Teams and Shared folders? How to set up the project and implement the workflow? In this post, we would like to give a brief introduction on Design Collaboration.
What is BIM 360 Design Collaboration in ABC (Autodesk BIM Collaboration Pro):
ABC Pro (Autodesk BIM Collaborate Pro), which supports projects on both ACC (Autodesk Construction Cloud) and BIM 360, is a cloud-based design collaboration software that allows teams to set up a cloud server and access all the project data and files from a centralized cloud location. The Design Collaboration module of ABC Pro helps the designers to share and exchange their design updates, which greatly improves the collaboration among different teams. With Teams set up inside ACC or BIM 360, multiple project teams within and outside of an organization can share their own packages with each other and decide to consume others’.
How to Set Up and Collaborate Effectively in Design Collaboration:
The interfaces and workflow of setup for Design Collaboration have some minor differences on ACC and Autodesk. Below we will use the BIM 360 platform as an example to show you the logic and how to set up the project and implement the workflow.
To share and use the project data with other Teams, there are several workflows to choose from. Project teams can decide based on their project team structure, different timelines, and levels of control on the shared project data.
Live Linking: Link and use other teams’ models from their live model saved in their Team folder.
Shared Linking: Link and use other teams’ models from their shared package saved in the Shared folder.
Shared and Consumed Linking: Link and use other teams’ models by consuming their package to your own Team space.
In this post, we will introduce the Shared and Consumed Linking workflow which enables the most levels of controls on the shared project data, using Architectural and Structural Teams as an example.
To enable the process, both Docs (known as Document Management in BIM 360) and Design Collaboration will be activated under Services by the project administrator first.
Before that, the project admin can start by selecting a shared folder as the location where one can find all the models packaged by any team (more on teams and packages later in the blog). ACC provides you with an option of using an existing folder under Document Management to be used as the Shared folder. If you choose not to select an existing folder to be assigned as shared. Please be aware that once a shared folder is selected, that process can’t be reversed. i.e., once any folder has been recognized as a shared folder, you can’t assign any other folder as shared. “/Project Files/Shared” is the folder used most.
After that, the project admin then can set up different Teams to represent different companies or disciplines. For example, teams can be Architectural, Structural, Mechanical, and so on. The corresponding team folders will be created in Docs to store the project team data. Subfolders mirroring the Team named as Architectural, Structural, and Mechanical will be automatically created within the Shared folder.
Now the admin can add members and assign permissions to each team. Members with the same roles or within the same team should be given the same level of access permissions. A member usually has extensive access to her own Team and limited or no access to others’ Teams. Within this team folder, a member can work on the models and files, as well as manage them to be shared with other teams.
The shared models and files will be stored in their subfolder within the Shared folder for others to consume. The project administrator has the option to grant team members different levels of access to different folders depending on their roles.
If the architectural team updates its model on a daily basis, it may not want to share it with other teams daily because there are ongoing changes. At this moment, they only need to synchronize the architectural model on Revit. When they finish one part and would like to share the changes, they can first publish it to make it available on BIM 360. Then, a “Package” can be created in Design Collaboration, which can include the Revit model, IFC model, sheets, and all other documents. This would be a copy of the working files and saved in the subfolder “01-Architecture '' inside of the “Shared” folder.
The Structural Team then will “Explore” and “Compare” the new package with previous ones to see what changes have been made. After that, they can decide if to “Consume” the new package from the Shared folder to their own Team folder to link or use.
Please note that members need to be given certain levels of access permissions for different folders in both Docs and Design Collaboration to enable the actions above, see the below table for more information.
Permission Needed in Design Collaboration
Edit a model or other project data
Link a shared model to another model
Share a package to the Shared folder
Consume a package to the Team folder
A main benefit of Design Collaboration and the Shared and Consumed Linking workflow is that it gives different levels of flexibility to the project teams on how to work with each other. One team can choose when to present their changes to all the teams, and other teams decide when and if the shared model and data to be consumed and linked to their project files.
However, different types of projects may have different stakeholders involved, project requirements, schedules, approaches to achieve the project delivery, etc. You may not always need a Shared and Consumed Linking workflow but can choose the way which suits the situation best.
Thanks for reading. Hopefully, this post gives you some idea of Design Collaboration, as well as the Shared and Consumed Linking workflow. If you are interested in learning more about this topic or have any questions or comments, please let us know and we would like to communicate with you and share more in the future.