Me and my IT: Stephen Yates
I've been with TP Bennett for 23 years now. I started off life as an architectural technician and a lot of IT professionals that I know in our business started in exactly the same way.
I think that we as a practice started to take our IT seriously about 15 years ago. Prior to that we had a few word processors and cad workstations dotted about, but in 1993 we established our first network, which allowed us to begin sharing documents and other information, and started to distribute machines to everybody and cad became the thing.
We're an AutoCAD house primarily, since day one. It was a decision based on what was available at the time and it seemed to be the best fit. It's quite difficult to migrate out of that once you've got everyone using it, but it does what we want it to and I don't see any reason to change, although occasionally you'd like to when you find something frustrating.
We do have some Bentley users and use Vectorworks for some front-end design work. We use Google SketchUp a lot. People love it and it does more and more of what they want it to in terms of production of imagery and design development. It has become quite an important tool. There are some instances when work in AutoCAD and SketchUp doesn't match up though.
We use Newforma for our internal document sharing and management. Like many practices using Microsoft, we were using public folders to store a lot of project details, but Newforma is a more secure way of doing that. It's really well integrated into the workflow and we use it not just for projects but for personal groups. It's a good way for groups in the practice to store and access common data.
To be quite honest, bim is not something we've moved into yet, partly because there's a very high degree of research and development required. If you're going to do it, you've got to do it properly. Adoption is also driven, to some extent, by the client base. There are very definite benefits to it and, although we're still an AutoCAD practice rather than a Revit practice, I suspect the transition will happen within the next two years. It's a case of when, not if.
Stephen Yates is IT Director at TP Bennett