Océ’s new cloud-based document distribution system is designed to take the pain out of sharing the latest drawing revisions.
Distributing technical documents and drawings is an important part of the construction process. Spread across different locations, key stakeholders need to be able to share the correct and most up-to-date information to avoid any costly project delays. Traditionally, this distribution would involve posting paper sets, sending documents on a CD or uploading them to an ftp site.
More recently technology firms have been looking to the cloud. Océ, a provider of document management and printing for professionals, is the latest provider to introduce a document distribution ‘in the cloud’ web service, called Eneo. Optimised for the AEC industry, it facilitates fast, effective and secure document distribution to as many parties as required, and controls who can access files from any fixed or mobile workspot whether it be via a PC in an office or a tablet on the construction site.
“With Eneo, distributions can be completed in less than half the time of traditional methods and at a lower cost,” says Adrian Axelsen, Océ’s business group manager software and professional services. “Recipients receive their sets of documents within minutes. They can see the latest version directly from the web service and so check they are building to the latest specification. For the sender, they also know exactly when the recipient downloaded the files.”
Eneo has been in development for the past two years at Document Services Valley, an independent foundation launched by Océ, Maastricht University and Exser, the Dutch centre for service innovation, in 2007. The development process involved talking to market experts as well as working closely with customers, who revealed that they did not want a wholly digital workflow as print is still of value to them.
According to Mr Axelsen, customers also revealed that they wanted the system to be as straightforward to operate as possible. Having tested it out with a number of parties involved in the construction industry, feedback was positive with one general contractor stating: “A good interface. User friendly, uncluttered and a clear [menu] structure.”
Sending documents requires users to upload to Eneo, create recipient groups and send the specified documents to those recipients. Once sent, the recipient will receive an email containing a link to Eneo allowing them to view, download or print the documents. Every recipient receives their own secure ID and password.
The interface is simple, and if the user requires more information there is a consistent approach of using pop-up balloons. So, by hovering over a project with the mouse, the user can see basic information such as how many project members there are, how many distributions have been made, how many documents there are and the storage used.
“Eneo has been developed using Océ’s ‘big green button’ approach. Making it simple to use for everyone has been part of the guiding design philosophy,” says Mr Axelsen. “The trouble with many web services is that they are not always easy to use. Eneo breaks that mould. Customers love the simplicity. This is important as the first time many people will see it is when they receive a distribution.”
For Mr Axelsen one of the biggest benefits of Eneo, aside from the obvious savings in cost and time, is the transparency of the process. The sender can see exactly who, when and what version of the documents each recipient received and what responses have been given.
“There is a complete audit trail of what a particular individual has downloaded. So from a distribution point of view, one of the key features is this audit trail and ability to track and trace,” he says.
As Eneo is a complete ‘Software as a Service’ (SaaS) solution it requires no investment in hardware, software or training. By running in the cloud with the only user requirement being a web browser, there is also no IT overhead on local desktops or servers. Additionally, the user’s inbox is not overloaded with large attachments.
As the parties involved in a project have different document management systems, a comprehensive API (application programming interface) is available enabling Eneo to integrate with third party systems. A ready-made plug-in for SharePoint 2010 is also available.
The cost of the system itself is minimal as it can be used on a pay as you go basis. From £1.90 per recipient, per month, as many documents and distributions can be sent as required by the user. Each project is provided 1GB of data space for all documents as standard. A 30-day free trial is available for those who would prefer to test it out first.
Eneo may be deemed a clever move by Océ, which is now involved in providing solutions to print technical documents, alongside distributing and managing those documents too.
As Erik van Eldik, vice-president of Océ Wide Format Printing Systems, said at the product launch: “Eneo marks a big step for the industry. A step moving from paper-based design and distribution to a hybrid situation where you have digital distribution and print where needed. I am convinced that this will be an important step for our customers as it will save them time and make them more competitive.