I was recently asked to reply to a short list of questions from a new ProjectWise user in terms of what they can do now to prepare for and facilitate their implementation of ProjectWise. Specifically, these questions centered on developing a ProjectWise folder structure and document metadata. I thought that this information may have value to other new or perspective ProjectWise users, so I have reworded the Q&A’s slightly (so not to name names) and am sharing the results below. Keep in mind that:
– You should use these questions (and answers) as a guide. You may have different requirements.
– While the focus was on PW attribution, this is by no means a complete list.
– The use of the terms “metadata” and “attributes” refer to the same thing.
Q1 – Is there a requirement for a single folder hierarchy?
No requirement at all. Setting a PW structure is a critical function – for a variety of reasons – and should not be taken lightly. I use the analogy with new users that a PW datasource is essentially an “empty white board” and you are free to do as you please. You could certainly mimic your exact structure in PW, as it exists in Windows. Of course, that is almost always a bad idea. This particular user has an existing Windows structure near 400,000 folders. While ProjectWise can support that many (it can support way more folders than you would ever want to consider), many of their folders can, should (and looks like will be) replaced by configured PW document attributes. Users should also consider the use of ProjectWise Projects and their associated attribution in a datasource hierarchy. All of this is covered in PW Administrator training, but it is a lot to take in, so you should include some post-training consulting in this area with your Bentley PW consultant.
Q2 – Can virtual or dynamic folder views be based on user role or department?
No, not really. Users can create their own ‘personal views’ in PW and then assign them to a folder (if permitted). This method allows users to display a different set of attributes in the main PW document window (for ease and quick reference) based on the folder/project they have highlighted. Users also have the ability (again, if permitted) to setup their own Custom Folders. Think of a Custom Folder as a ‘shortcut’ in PW. This shortcut can provide, for example, an abbreviated path to CAD drawings, or a link to an internal or external URL. Users can setup as many of their own personal Custom Folders as they want. Administrators can also setup global Custom Folders, viewable by everyone. Users can setup PW Saved Searches (that can have a specific PW view attached) for quickly locating information based on any combination of metadata.
Q3 – How are metadata values auto-populated or inherited? Based on user ID; folder storage location; other?
First, understand that all PW attributes are stored in an ‘environment’. In turn, an environment is set at a folder (or Project) and all documents in that folder will adhere to it. The display of the attributes is controlled by an environment ‘interface’. One early decision you will need to make is “do I need multiple environments, or multiple interfaces?”.
Metadata can be auto-populated, so to speak, upon document import. The best means is through the PW Export/Import tool, which leverages Excel. The documents themselves are placed in PW folders, via the import tool, either by Folder Name or Folder ID number. The metadata is then ‘attached’ to each individual document. This can even include the addition of attributes to documents that don’t have any now. Keep in mind that the delivered Export/Import tool does not recognize PW Projects, only Folders.
Q4 – What is a good Design approach for a First Draft of my PW metadata?
I would develop a basic list of attributes that should be considered. Review existing internal sites that may be used for collection or repository of metadata (SAP, for one example). Also discuss attribute values with your appropriate discipline leads. Keep in mind that you are identifying attributes that will help users find, organize and provide ‘light’ reporting on PW documents and records. Try to keep your list of attributes to a minimum and remember that there is power in using them in combination.
Develop pick lists for your attributes, which can be derived in several ways, some not covered in PW Administrator training. When establishing attributes:
– Understand what datatype is required for each (char, numeric, date, etc.) and what you are trying to achieve with the attribute. For example, does it need to be a ‘Required’ field? ‘Read-only’? Should it be triggered by the result of another attribute in ProjectWise?
– Be cognizant of the field length requirement of an attribute.
– Be aware of the information you are putting in PW. For example, is there a need to store emails? If so, there are special extraction considerations that need to be in place to effectively track attribution that is particular to an email (From/To/CC, etc.)
– Do you need to establish some sort of naming convention for your documents? Is this a need on just some documents, like drawings? In PW, a ‘naming template’ for your documents – called Document Code – is created within your PW environment, using the PW attributes. If this is a requirement, I recommend reviewing this feature in depth with your Bentley PW consultant as there are many options and constraints.
Q5 – What is a typical validation approach?
I like to develop a UAT (User Acceptance Testing) plan with a small group of key managers and users to validate your information and work process. Review in detail the results with your lead ProjectWise team, including IT/IS and Bentley and make the necessary changes before you move off into a Production environment.
I will close with these few thoughts. I always maintain that any type of collaboration system works better if it a) includes ‘push’ from upper management and b) involves all the critical groups that will use ProjectWise. Making everyone feel like part of a team instead of being isolated goes a long way to improve the PW implementation and the ‘user experience’. Lastly, I always try to impress upon any new users my K.I.S.S theory…(Keep It So Simple)!!