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Jan 22 2014

What’s the future for Excel Spreadsheet for managing large volumes of building information?

AEC professionals are using Excel spreadsheets for data management on small, medium and even large projects. To make the spreadsheets usable to enable them to manage the project data they are divided into separate spreadsheets for room data, FFE, doors and MEP by department, by floor for each. This approach offers little or no ability to bi directionally link with the design package; manage common data or model validation. It provides questionable levels of quality assurance which potentially allow costly mistakes to creep in at every level.
That’s not to say they don’t play a part in the workflow where they are used as a simple and effective transport mechanism allowing the export to and import from partners and 3rd parties to add additional data, without the need for them to invest in software they will use infrequently, and where for quality assurance and security you may not want them to have direct access to the mass data in your database and playing a major out for deliverables and reporting.
Building Information management implementation increases year on year being used on more building types and sizes and increase in actual data required to be capture and managed. So why would the AEC sector continue to use spreadsheets never designed to operate or have the functionality of a database and at what point and dataset size do they lose their effectiveness and stop working.
We are already seeing existing clients max out their Access database because of the increasing demands for more data to be captured and managed. Migrating their datasets to SQL for enhanced performance speed, data management and user access for improved collaboration.
Using a 3rd party external database solution such as CodeBookPro V12 with a well-developed API for bi directionally linking between 3D drawing solutions such as Revit brings the ability to easily manage large data sets and multiple models, Delivering high levels of quality assurance, reduction in mistakes and rework both at design and construction. Introducing a cohesive and structured 3d work flow across a whole organisation were knowledge is capture, retained, improved and re used saves time, money and increases profitability.
The upside is a spreadsheet needs little or no training, however, this has to be balance against the downside that they weren’t designed to act like a database.

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