Engineers at the U.S. Army’s Engineer Research and Development Center, Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (ERDC-CERL) have developed and transferred a suite of innovative web-based software that significantly improves the design, bid, and build phases of facility construction. The ProjNetSM modules were created to help project participants collate and review the voluminous data involved in the vast array of facilities constructed by government and commercial groups. The software package addresses specific stages of building design, allowing preapproved team members to post documents, exchange comments, and make real-time decisions online. The CERL team initially developed the software to aid federal agencies in their building programs, resulting in considerable cost savings through expedited review processes. Aware of similar data-overload issues in private industry, the nominees initiated transfer of their software to the nonprofit trade association, the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), which will market ProjNetSM to both government and commercial subscribers. In 2006, CERL and NIBS simultaneously signed a patent license agreement and a renewable five-year Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), creating a two-way partnership wherein CERL engineers continue their development of new or enhanced modules in response to needs identified by NIBS. ProjNetSM offers important cost-saving benefits to the building industry through reduced meeting and review times, convenient collation of data and comments, updated standards and specifications during design phases, greater participation by all relevant team members, rapid communications across time zones, complete records of each interaction, online real-time sharing of documents and review comments, and more. Stringent security measures ensure that only preapproved individuals participate in each phase of a project. The success of ProjNetSM suggests similar approaches to other project-oriented efforts weighed down by too much information and widely diverse team profiles, such as personnel management or accounting departments in multinational companies.
Award Year: