The success of think project! is based on an underlying concept which has proven itself many thousands of times in the delivery of successful projects by our clients.
The far-seeing decisions we made over a decade ago set the course for our subsequent success:
- A database structure allowing for extensive adaptation without programming
- Focus on providing for communication between companies rather than documents and files
- Database-orientated filing instead of a rigid folder system
- Delivery via an innovative web-based platform
Collaboration occurs when two or more participants communicate with each other face-to-face, via mail, telephone, fax, email – or any platform which structures and documents an entire communication process, such as think project!.
Sender and receiver as information owners
Regardless of the communication medium, there is always a sender and a receiver. In the case of a letter, the contents are only known to the sender and receiver – unless one of them forwards the letter on. This ingeniously simple communication principle is embedded within think project!, take access rights, for example; unlike folder-based systems in which they must be manually assigned, think project! allocates them automatically based on the communication principle.
Project partners are usually not individuals, but companies with numerous employees. Hence each think project! user is assigned to an organisation (we call it a registered company). Based on this assignment, rights can be automatically transferred to a newly-created user belonging to this organisation. For example, a new user in a design role can immediately see which plans their company has received so far, even though none of these plans has yet reached them. Which rights are transferred, and the extent to which they are transferred, can be individually regulated.
Using roles offers further simplification. For example, only users assigned with the role of ‘approver’ are allowed to participate in a plan’s approval process and apply the status of ‘approved’. The advantage of designating roles is that they need only be defined once, and can then be applied to as many users as needed.
To use think project! to its full capacity, project participants require direct access via a username and password. We call these participants ‘internal users’. However, not every project partner and discipline needs direct access to the project platform and its comprehensive documentation and communications.
think project! offers an easy solution for integrating marginal participants within complex projects, without giving them access rights. Using online forms with reply links (reply-to-HTML), external participants can be linked into communications or processes, without requiring access to think project!. The advantage is that every message, every upload and each process step will be comprehensibly documented as if executed by an internal user – without detours or manual reworking.
The filing of documents in think project! is database-oriented rather than folder-based, as in many other systems. This means documents can be displayed on the basis of their properties, precisely the way you need to identify them. To envisage this, consider real estate websites which bring up lists of available houses or flats by different criteria such as location, number of rooms and/or cost, thus enabling you to limit your search using your own specific requirements. The subsequent results are not filed into different folders multiple times; you filter the entire data pool according to your desired criteria. You are then able to save your search and create a folder containing the results and which is constantly updated. This is the way think project! works.
We define a document not as a single file, but a kind of information container which, apart from possessing various properties, may also contain one or more files. However it is not compulsory that it contains both. Consider these examples:
- A think project! document ‘plan’ may contain properties such as discipline or status, metadata such as date of creation or plan originator, and CAD or PDF files
- A think project! ‘notice of defects’ document may contain details of the relevant subcontractor or area of responsibility, as well as photographs and a description of the defect plus notes on how and when it must be remedied
- A ‘site instruction’ document, on the other hand, may not contain any files at all
A document’s properties and metadata can either be recorded manually using online forms, or can be automatically created in many ways, for example, by reading from the file name. All information allocated to a document can then serve as sorting and filtering criteria. Rules for distribution can be linked to each document. Individual steps of a process are created using documents, distribution rules and distribution lists.
In think project!, documents can be filed in a clear manner and then distributed to project teams. Apart from this simple filing and distribution, think project! also provides a powerful workflow engine. Depending on a project's requirements, workflows ranging from simple tasks (i.e. tickets, RFIs) right up to highly complex work processes (i.e. multi-level approval processes, plan or invoice checking and approvals, variations and additional costs) can be mapped. The individual steps can be executed either in parallel or in series. For each step it can be defined who is responsible for which tasks and how much time they will have to complete them. The allocation of editors can take place by name or by role. The complete processing of these workflows occurs via filters and entry fields that can be adapted to the current task. The system recognises each step in the defined process, holds the appropriate documents at the ready and forwards them accordingly. Automatic reminders and reports as well as escalation functions (i.e. when deadlines are not met) ensure that each participant continually knows which workflow and which step they must next work on.
The entire workflow as well as separate steps can take place remotely via mobile, for example the detection of defects. As required, additional services can be called up from the Collaboration Cloud that can be used in individual workflow steps. This allows, for example, the imprinting of approval stamps onto PDF documents as well as using QR codes that make it possible to scan printed documents and plans in order to check their validity. Therefore, the services not only make the digital workflow more comfortable, but they also close the gaps between the platform and hardcopies in paper form.
- Workflows / processes ranging from simple to multi-level and complex tasks are possible
- A workflow or its individual steps within can be processed remotely via mobile
- Tasks, editors, timelines and the number of steps can be defined as desired
- Editors are assignable by name or by role
- Entry fields and forms can be adapted to the current activity
- Documents are available where and when they are required
- Additional services such as the imprinting of stamps, metadata, QR codes etc. are available
- Automatic deadline management, reports, reminders
- Functions concerning escalation are also possible (e.g. when a deadline is not met)
think project integrates email communications within each project. Each participant with access to the system has a personal project-related email address. All incoming and outgoing emails are sorted according to the project and comprehensibly documented.
Files can be sent from think project! as a download link within an email. This enables large files to be distributed without consideration of mailbox limits. Login is not required for the retrieval of a file – the link allows access to this single file without providing access to other information saved in think project!.
think project! is based on an open software architecture. think project! uses web services (SOAP and REST) for data exchange between systems. Ready-to-use interfaces make it possible to interconnect think project! and other applications such as ERP, DMS, AVA, CAD or FM.