Welcome to AECWeekly! This week Meridian Systems held their Ninth Annual User Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona at the Camelback Inn, drawing more than 300 customers, resellers and business partners.
In speaking with Sue Watkins, director of marketing for Meridian, I learned that the new version of Prolog was launched at the user conference because the release had relied so heavily on user input. Prolog has been an industry standard for project management for many years, and over that time has accrued approximately 85,000 users in over 8,000 companies. Read about Prolog and other highlights in this week's Industry News.
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Meridian Systems' Ninth Annual User Conference Report
By Susan Smith
Highlighted at the conference was the just released version of Prolog, Prolog Manager 7.5, a project management system that offers collaboration, purchasing management, cost control, and field administration.
In speaking with Sue Watkins, director of marketing for Meridian, I learned that the new version of Prolog was launched at the user conference because the release had relied so heavily on user input. Prolog has been an industry standard for project management for many years, and over that time has accrued approximately 85,000 users in over 8,000 companies.
Two drivers for updating the product were: usability and auditability, so all the enhancements of the product sprang from these two concerns.
Prolog 7.5 New Features
What the user community was most excited about in this release was the email capability, which allows you to attach project related emails to the project record. “Email is a main source of information and another way people can track their data and keep it in a centralized project database,” explained Watkins. “People wanted to know, how can I have complete project records and how can I improve my record keeping in case of litigation issues, etc.? Because email is such a global communication tool, this came across as a key value.” Prolog 7.5 can create a dedicated project email account that allows important emails to become part of the permanent project record. Team members can forward their project-related emails with attachments, to this account.
Who uses Prolog? “Our users span the general contractor community, both public and private owners, and local government agencies, educational and healthcare institutions,” Watkins said. “This is the representation we get at our user conference.”
Another valuable feature of the new release is easily configurable field attributes. Prolog has always had the ability to easily customize field labels to reflect a company's unique business terminology. Now, in addition, users can easily configure a number of other field attributes that ensure project data standards such as: designate those fields that require input by users, pre-set the default value for any field, and pre-set acceptable data ranges and minimum/maximum number of characters.
A third feature of Prolog 7.5 is the ability to efficiently modify project data. With the introduction of 'Quick Edit,' users will be able to modify multiple records at once while still observing all the security and business rules of the system.
The Project Mailbox contains all project-related emails, so any member of the project team can access important project information.
One of the discussions held at the conference was about building a total solution. Dr. Rick Jackson of Fiatech asked, what does it take to build these total solutions? Another issue was how do you get users to adopt solutions, which is the biggest obstacle organizations have, particularly in the AEC industry.
“That's why we try to improve the interface and number of mouse clicks in Prolog and make it truly to easy to do the changes users want,” Watkins said. “It's not so much about revolutionary technology anymore, it's working with the users to fine tune to get it to where they want it to be.”
Going Beyond 60%
As with most software solutions, Prolog users have a tendency to use only 60% of the product, according to Watkins. The conference was useful for users to come together and get more out of the solutions to learn what other customers are doing with the product, getting deep dive sessions from Meridian's technical people. Hopefully the five general sessions and breakout sessions helped users come away with knowledge that could take them beyond that 60% to get more out of the solution they've invested in.
Proliance for the Enterprise
“We also saw increased interest in our Proliance solution [version 3 came out in June] which is an enterprise offering to organizations that have some different business requirements form the Prolog customers, who are very project oriented,” said Watkins. Proliance is called “one system of record” for those customers who have wanted Meridian to continue to build out Prolog to automate the entire 'plan, build and operate' project lifecycle. Over the past few years, the owner community have become more involved and want technology solutions to manage their building programs and want more of a lifecycle solution.
This need is in direct response to the study published last year by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) which put a price tag on companies that use systems that don't interoperate across the lifecycle. We all remember the quoted $15.8 billion a year lost on this lack of integration and how the building owners suffer the loss when a facility comes online, and the maintenance and facility team don't get any of the building information and consequently, that data gets lost. Art Stout at Intel recounted that they spent $10 million on a building and three years later that information is lost. The goal of Proliance is to provide that one system of record across the lifecycle.
Version 3 of Proliance was focused on adding in the facility management capabilities to the existing project and portfolio management suite.
Quick Edit allows users to update multiple records of information at one time while working off of a view of data that best supports their individual work process.