Drawboard Projects and Feather & Lawry Design: A Case Study
The Feather & Lawry Design team have over 25 years of experience in the design industry. They pride themselves on being an award winning, multi-disciplined practice with a large and varied project portfolio in both the residential and commercial sectors. Based in the city of Toowomba in Southern Queensland, Australia, The Feather & Lawry team provide a wide range of Architectural and Interior Design services.
As a Director and Senior Architect at Feather & Lawry, Michael Fleming says that Drawboard Projects has completely streamlined the way the team uses drawings and communicates on projects.
“Prior to using Projects, our workflow was primarily paper based. We had office copy sets of drawings that were marked up, and being in a regional area, quite often that set of drawings would go home with someone to work on and not be returned for a few days.”
While the team, especially the drafting team, were aware that the current workflow was making it a lot harder than needed to complete projects, making the shift to a paperless office was still a very big step to take.
“One project architect might take a printed set of drawings home to mark up, and at the same time an interior designer starts marking up a different set of drawings, then they all land on the desk of our drafting staff with design input coming back at them from multiple directions, which makes the job a lot tougher.”
Time to refresh workflows and go digital
Initially, Michael and his team were avid users of Drawboard PDF.
“I have been using Drawboard PDF for around 7 years now. When I first downloaded the app, I was using it to be able to access and markup construction drawings while on site using my Microsoft Surface. That way I could record all of the notes and mark up drawings during meetings – and that’s how we got started.”
“From there I gradually started to more frequently mark up drawings with Drawboard PDF. But that was leading to similar issues to that of which we’d experienced in the past. I had a PDF, where someone else had a hard copy which led to duplicate processes. “
“We had already started rolling out Drawboard PDF across all of our devices within the office so that we could go paperless for markups, and the team was really embracing it. Then when the COVID-19 lockdowns hit, we found that within only a few weeks our inboxes were maxed out in terms of size due to all of the PDFs being emailed back and forward between the team all day.”
The challenge now was to get the team collaborating on the same drawings, rather than emailing each other all day and clogging up each other’s inboxes.
Embracing the paperless office
As they were already using Drawboard PDF, the next step was to move across to Drawboard Projects so that the team could unlock the collaboration tools that they needed.
The move to Projects came about fairly quickly.
“The challenge of getting us all collaborating efficiently led to us very quickly to roll out Drawboard Projects so that we could have all team members working off a single digital drawing and collaborating in real-time.”
The move showed immediate results across Feather & Lawry with the entire team embracing the new workflow, as Michael says.
“Within a week Drawboard Projects had completely streamlined our whole process of drawing checking and communication, and the entire team was feeling very comfortable with the system.”Michael Fleming, Director and Senior Architect at Feather & Lawry Design
“We now have teams from across the company involved in completing a drawing set using Projects, which includes design, projects architects and drafting staff.”
Speaking to the impact of implementing Drawboard Projects, Michael says that the benefits extend much further than just real-time collaboration and drawing management.
“It’s that streamlining of our process from a quality management point of view where we’ve really seen the impact. It’s just [having] that certainty that the drawings you are reviewing are the latest and greatest, and also being able to roll back through previous revisions to see clearly if markups have been completed as expected.”
“Doing that with a paper based system could take hours by the time you find old drawing sheets in the records, if you could even find them at all“ says Michael.
Real-time collaboration with real benefits
The drafting team at any firm is inundated with many markups of the same drawing set. At Feather & Lawry, they can now operate at a much higher efficiency rate, and remove the time between revisions for the rest of the team.
In addition, the management team are able advance projects faster and more accurately. This directly impacts their revenue margin and allows them to expand through taking on more new projects.
“It’s really helped management-wise, from the upper level, and then it’s also drastically helped our drafting team through having that certainty that what they are working on is the correct and most current drawing set.”Michael Fleming, Director and Senior Architect at Feather & Lawry Design
“We’ve also noticed that because we are regional, we do tend to be out on the road for days at a time to see clients. So, having our drawing sets available online means that at any time we can jump into Projects, open drawings, and help answer questions, or mark up up notes for the team back in the office too. That saves us a lot of time and rework because they can now access updated information on a project immediately.”
Drawboard Projects brings handwritten markup to a cloud based team platform accessible on Windows 10, any web browser and iOS. Project teams can see everyone’s markups and annotations in real-time on any PDF drawing or document, wherever they are in the world.
Projects is powered by a document management system that is the first of its kind, eliminating the need to print, deal with version control problems, and use disparate systems for markup control.