What is PlanGrid?
There are so many construction design apps on the market today and choosing one is even more crucial to help your business save money and time, and ultimately get to the next level. It’s especially hard when you are juggling multiple projects at the same time because you have to make sure that your data doesn’t overlap. You also need to ensure that you are in constant communication with your contractors on the field for proper auditing and tracking. You need to handle countless RFIs (Requests for Information) in relation to the particular project. Meanwhile, large blueprints are a hassle, especially when you have to make last-minute changes on the field.
Just how many software products do you think you need to do all that?
PlanGrid is billed to be an all-in-one design and construction platform that will help you manage your projects (or multiple projects) more efficiently. What it does is to empower the team members to play a bigger role in the design process as they are allowed to become administrators and collaborators. People in the field are more equipped to recommend changes based on the real situation that they see on the ground. There are two ways to implement the changes. First, you can share the changes with the rest of the team members for review and implementation; second, is to make private annotations which are only available to yourself.
All the specs and the schedule of the blueprint will be uploaded to the Cloud. This makes it easier for everybody to be cognizant of the timelines and the deadlines and see whether the project is still on pace with the schedule. All the sheets can be named for proper sorting. A local search engine will allow you to access the specific sheet by inputting the file name.
A free Punch list template is also might convenient. You can easily upload the pending deliverables, the list of things to be repaired or corrected, as well as the incomplete tasks that needed to be submitted to the client before you get your payment. Adding, editing, and deleting the Punch list is now very easy.
You can assign roles to your team with several gradients of permissions. For instance, a collaborator—which is at the bottom of the totem pole—can only access data but can’t make any revisions. There’s another level, known as the power collaborator, and he can only introduce markups but can’t delete the sheets. High up on the totem pole is the administrator who can delete, assign, revise, and manage all the activities of the team members. The administrator only has the power also to switch between the different subscription packages for the PlanGrid.
With the PlanGrid, all members of the team with access can go to the complete set of drawings even if they are out on location. They can do this through the mobile capability of the software. All blueprints are stored in the Cloud, which ensures integrity and security of data. Project managers can also easily track any changes to the drawing in real time.
Contractors can insert images and photos so project managers are updated on the status of the build. Meanwhile, an uploaded photo carries with it some details like the person who took the photo, the time it was taken, the project location, along with the sheet it was pinned to.
If there are annotations, contractors can easily do it on the drawing itself and uploaded in a digital format where it can be seen immediately by the rest of the team members. You can give access to either the full-sized drawing or just a selected area to the team members. Request for information by the team members on the field is now easier as they can do this on a single page which can be viewed by everybody at one glance. You can also track the history of the changes for better auditing. You will know exactly when somebody made those changes and why.
Syncing all the documents and blueprints related to the project to your smartphone or tablet will allow you to access them even without an Internet connection. This is extremely convenient for projects located off the grid. Meanwhile, you can share this information with your clients so they are updated on the status of the project.
Finally, the software is protected by 256 bit SSL. This is an encryption that will protect your data when it’s passed on from your browser to the PlanGrid server.
- Easy tracking of changes
- Full access to the drawings through the Cloud
- Insert images or photos on the drawings
- Easily make annotations
- Share RFI
- Edit and modify Punch list
- Easy tracking of project progress
- User-friendly interface shortens the learning curve
- Updated digital drawings cuts chances of making errors on the field
- The drawings are only in PDF format and they can’t be edited with CAD
- Uploaded PDFs can’t be rotated
- Only available for iPhone or iPad (No Android capability)
- No multiple-page views available
Clients also noted the lack of ability for the software to link to the other document control sites. This means that when a new drawing is introduced to the server, it should also be upgraded to the PlanGrid. Instead, a dedicated storage page should be automatically linked to other software products like Constructware or ACONEX.
Smart Sheets – This feature will allow you to share your sheets with your team almost immediately. You can upload hundreds of sheets at one time without encountering any problem. Also, the machine-learning capability will ensure that all your sheets are properly sorted, labeled, and optimized before they can be sent to each of the devices of your team members. Meanwhile, when you revise the plans, the result will always be stored as the most recent set. You can view the old files by combing through the history. Finally, the sheets are hyperlinked automatically so you can easily find them.
Document Management – You can easily find the latest documents like RFIs, specs, submittals, and schedules because they are hyperlinked to your plans. Each of the edited documents will be labeled as “V2” but you can still access the old files without any issue. The PlanGrid offers unlimited storage of the documents in its servers and these docs are not counted as part of your sheet subscription limit. You can then call out a team member for updates by inputting their name in the comments.
Auto Submittal Log – Just create a submittal log after scanning the spec book and the PlanGrid will do the rest of the heavy lifting. Even if your spec book is 50 pages or more than 2,000 pages, the software’s machine learning function will pull out the specs to produce an accurate spreadsheet that will contain the submittal register items. The sheet is downloadable to any device and may be used even without an Internet connection.
Easy Markups – Marking up your drawing has never been as easy. Just tap on the section of the drawing to put the markup. You can choose from the number of preselected photos, stamps or hyperlinks to the specific doc so that all the pertinent data is viewed on a single page. You can order rush changes by highlighting a section of the plans through the different markup tools in the software such as the color-coded text boxes, arrow, or the cloud. You can also add authorization by mentioning a name.
Compare Sheets – You can choose two sheets and then click on the Sheet Compare button to put overlay the two versions. The sheets are color-coded into red and blue to make it easier for you to see which one is the other. If you highlight one sheet, just turn off the color of the other sheet. With this feature, it’s now easier to spot clashing objects, thereby preventing the contractors from redoing the work. Meanwhile, you can also see at one point in the construction process where the budget changes occurred through the Sheet Compare button.
RFIs Management – Your contractors on the field can create RFIs, which can be shared in real time with the rest of the team members who are logged on to the project timeline. Project supervisors can post as a hyperlink the answered RFIs so they can easily be accessed by the team members concerned. Although your answer is uploaded in real time, they still need to refresh their pages before they can see it. In this way, you can resolve all the problems before they will worsen. They can also include some attachments like images and clips to the RFIs to justify the changes. The PlanGrid will automatically track the changes for each backtracking when you access the revision history of the plan.
Reporting – You can manage and track all the field reports. You can also convert all paper documents in a digitized file for easier revision and access. Workers can attach documents, photos, and images to their field reports to justify a recommendation and provide context.
Finally, there’s security. The PlanGrid has installed some measures that will secure all phases of the creation and approval stages. Among the security mechanisms are:
- Encryption at transit – When you transfer your drawings from your computer to the PlanGrid servers, they will automatically be secured with the 2048-bit SSL encryption.
- Risk detection — PlanGrid will automatically scan all your applications and drawings at regular intervals to spot vulnerabilities, particularly in relation to the OWASP Top 10.
- Protection from attacks – PlanGrid’s servers are very secure and routinely scanned for any vulnerability. You won’t ever be worried about your plans ending up with the competition.
- Single Sign-on — The administrator can institute security measures because the software is compatible with SSO anchored on the SAML 2.0 protocol. Its clients can use other apps like ADFS, OneLogin, Okta, and Azure Active Directory with no compatibility issues.
- Secure authentication – The API is secured using authorization protocol OAuth 2.0, and passwords are hashed and protected through a strong salt.
There are three available pricing packages for the PlanGrid. These are the following:
This one costs $39 per month per user and the total amount will be billed annually. You will get 550 sheets under this plan.
This plan is supposed to be the most popular option. It costs $59 per user per month, which will be billed annually. It will get you 5,000 sheets.
This plan will cost $119 per user per month, which will be billed annually. The number of sheets is unlimited.
The sheet here refers to the number of pages loaded into the PlanGrid-hosted Cloud at any given time.
Once you exceed the number of sheets in your plan, you will be locked out from the software until you upgrade to another plan. You may also take yourself out from the projects so your access can be restored.
If you still have doubts if this is the software for you, you can start with the free trial, which is good for 21 days. It should give you enough time to learn some of the features and make a decision if PlanGrid is the right platform for your business.
- Annual Subscription
- Cloud Hosted
- Open API
PlanGrid is flexible enough and equipped with too many features that it can be scaled to fit a small business, mid-sized business, and a large enterprise.
The developer offers both email and phone support. For people who want a more personalized approach, the live support would be the ideal method where they are patched with the software expert who will walk them through all the issues they will encounter. You can also request for training on-premise where your team members learn all the features from the resident technician.