Getting the best out of Autodesk's AEC Collection without getting overwhelmed!

A small building services company with less than fifty employees recently inquired about what the value of Autodesk’s AEC Collection was to them?

Getting the best out of Autodesk's AEC Collection without getting overwhelmed!

Let us start from the beginning. What is an AEC Collection? It is a collection of twelve individual Autodesk software's used by professionals in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction industries. It includes Revit, Civil 3D, Navisworks, AutoCAD and Infraworks to name a few. When you review what these individual solutions can do, you quickly determine the possibilities are somewhat endless.

Because of these endless possibilities, when people first look at the AEC collection they get incredibly excited about what they can achieve. Then excitement meets reality and then they become understandably overwhelmed. While this is a collection of technologies, it is not a solution out of the box. In reality, if one person was to take training on how to use all the technologies comprehensively they would be sitting in a training room for weeks on end. Therefore, what often happens is organisations concentrate on their main authoring tool, something like Autodesk Revit and send their staff on a training course. As a result of this, sadly the majority of companies I speak to when asked what they are actually using, will usually answer one, maybe two of the technologies they have access too. 

So, what's the answer to the question from the building services company then? The honest, immediate answer is “I don't know.” However, that is not the most helpful of answers! A better response is to ask some well-considered questions about the business and the people that work there. So, I offered to spend some time with our customer to do a review in order to:

  • Understand how their team currently work and what they currently produce,
  • What are the particular challenges they currently have?
  • What are their clients asking for both now and potentially in the future?
  • What are the business aspirations?
  • What sectors do they want to move into?

In asking these questions we unveiled a comprehensive set of requirements for the business that helped us understand exactly how we should configure and work with the company to get the best results. To say we discovered a lot about the company would be somewhat of an understatement and certainly too much for a blog post. However, let’s examine a few key examples:

  • They had a small but significant role in their customers' security design. In particular, they specialised in closed circuit security systems.
  • We looked at the rules and regulations in this sector, and what type of documentation needed to be produced.
  • We found a particular bottleneck for the organisation was the optimal layout of CCTV cameras to give the maximum coverage within the budgetary constraints they have.
  • We worked with them to investigate a workflow which allows us to use Autodesk Revit to do the general arrangements, and then transfer the resulting Building Information Model into Generative Design workflows within the Dynamo Suite which is also included in the AEC Collection.
  • We plugged in the mathematics and rule sets that their engineers used, and we got the computer to present back the five best optimal designs using that criteria, with the analysis now taking minutes, not the days and weeks as it did before, and with the ability to investigate hundreds more design iterations than previously.
  • We found that the organisation also works with heating and cooling systems and so we looked at workflows that allowed us to get some early sight of conceptual heating and cooling analysis using Autodesk Insight (another little used part of the AEC Collection) so they could make better decisions much earlier in the design process.
  • They also had clients that were very interested in receiving asset data relating to the internal assets. We were able to help the organisation not just with technology that facilitates them putting that information into the datasets, but also the procedure, assurance and validation process that would be needed as well. This makes the organisation much more attractive to digitally minded owner operators that are looking at topics such as Digital Twin, a way to use information to inform operation of a building. 

Now that we understand the workflows and the deliverable outputs, we need to work with their team to build their knowledge so they can do their day job with these fantastic new technologies that they have at their fingertips and are able to take a much more modular approach.

The training course that would have had an individual sitting in a training room for an unfathomable amount of time, is now broken down into teaching them just the parts of the software solutions which they need to understand in order to do their work, and even more importantly, teaches them about interoperability between these solutions to enable their workflows. We are no longer learning how to use software, but learning a technology configuration that provides a solution.

So, what is the simple answer to the question of “How do I get value out of the AEC Collection?” The answer is understanding what you want to deliver and configuration management. Autodesk have done a wonderful job of providing an attainable set of tool sets that can make any organisation competitive and more efficient but you can’t buy a solution that fits your organisation out the box. Zoom out, review and question before zooming back in to look at what and how.

If you would like to partner with Symetri to get the most out of the AEC Collection, please speak to your Account Manager about our Design Productivity Review (DPR) service or get in touch by emailing

More information on what is included in the AEC Collection and the benefits can be found on our website by clicking here.