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Naviate is a product portfolio for users of Autodesk Revit and Civil 3D. Developed by Symetri, it helps customers maximise productivity and reduce risk through the cultivation of knowledge, workflow optimisation and business continuity.
As featured in the March/April 2021 issue of Construction Computing Magazine.
Following on from our last issue (see copy here), where we briefly introduced you to Naviate, we thought it would make sense to take a closer look at the tool and the reasoning behind its success in this edition. Back in 2009 when the recession hit, rather than cutting back and reducing in size, Symetri decided to invest for the future. With the additional capacity available, it took the time to learn from its customer base, developing a platform to help drive future success and accelerate that road to recovery.
Born from industry and user feedback, each function within Naviate can be directly associated with a customer request. Together with its community of 6000+ users, Symetri has continued to invest in its development over the last 12 years. This collaboration with industry is what continues to make it so successful today.
WHAT IS NAVIATE?
It's essentially a technology ecosystem which enables users to spend more time on valuable design work, being creative and doing more of what they enjoy. Fully integrated within either Autodesk Revit or Civil 3D, it maximises user productivity and reduces the risk of error through an integrated suite of workflow enhancement tools, educational content and technical support. Based on the wishes and needs of their customers, Symetri developed a solution that saves users valuable time, enabling them to focus on creating elegant and purposeful buildings and infrastructure. The solution consists of six main elements:
- Tools - Programmed to help users generate results quicker.
- Library - A database of components and products based on manufacturer sources to use directly in your models.
- Configuration - Templates and databases to optimise your platform.
- Interaction - The exchange of information between platforms and formats to ensure an optimised flow of information.
- Methods - To help bring workflows, methodology, best practice, and experience into a lean cycle of continuous improvement.
- Knowledge Centre - Consists of videos, tips and tricks and the latest releases to support users when they need it.
INDUSTRY WIDE ISSUES
So what have Symetri learnt from the industry over the years, and how has it helped them to develop the Naviate platform? While there is a great deal of recognised value within the Autodesk solutions and an appreciation that many are now becoming industry standard, which helps support collaboration, the toolsets would benefit from expansion to reduce the amount of time spent on routine manual workflows. In fact Autodesk have been quite open in stating that, while they develop and support core functionality, they do rely on third-party developers to add additional value and expand on the capabilities of the platform, which is exactly where Naviate comes in.
While there are various third-party productivity plug-ins to choose from in the market, many are purely individual tools which address a specific customer need. This means that not only does a customer have to procure these from multiple sources which collectively becomes expensive, they also have the ongoing management overhead of deploying them individually and keeping each one of them up to date. These days customers seek multiple tools packaged up within a single subscription, which Naviate delivers.
The value of knowledge: considering the dependency we now have on technology that fundamentally underpins the design process, means that a team's capability through training is key. While this is commonly recognised and nothing new, there is a tendency to forget the importance of continuous learning and the ability to keep up with the changes of ever-evolving technology, all aspiring to make us more efficient. The realisation is that learning cannot be static, a 'tick in the box' exercise that only fulfils the requirement of an appraisal.
However, while active learning is important, it also needs to be relative to the task at hand and available on demand. Applied directly after consumption, the chances of retention increase tenfold and provide a much better foundation for recall down the line.
There is also the recognition that users don't necessarily get to realise the true value of their core software investment. In many cases valuable toolsets are simply hidden away and only discovered by accident rather than having the means to proactively explore them.
Another concern is in relation to the ongoing technical issues a team may face and the impact that this can potentially have on delivery. With the pressure on and the clock ticking, delays can cause unnecessary stress for the team and as a result, develop into a negative situation. While the benefits of optimising workflows and closing the skills gap are evident, they could easily be corroded if not protected.
HOW DOES NAVIATE ADDRESS THESE ISSUES?
So, jumping into the detail of Naviate, what does it give customers to address these collective needs? Well, from a high level it can be broken down into four key pillars: continuous learning, workflow optimisation, business continuity, and standards and consolidation. Surrounding this is the Naviate community, who support the ongoing development of the platform through needs analysis and their valuable industry feedback.
Naviate provides a comprehensive e-learning platform, which customers can use to further develop their skills and maximise potential. To accommodate the different styles of learning Naviate comes with a range of different media, covering workflows, courses, videos, and individual reference documents. These are instantly available through a smartphone or web browser, and neatly sit within the core Autodesk application to support in-session learning. Most customers utilise the powerful search function, which provides the ability to essentially search on any word spoken within a video.
The core functionality that comes as part of Naviate really sits within the workflow optimisation pillar. Now simply put, this is like putting the Autodesk platform on steroids. It significantly increases user productivity, automates routine, manual labour-intensive parts of a job, and in turn allows users to focus on being creative, which after all is probably the reason they joined the profession in the first place. With the time saving, customers can in turn look to save costs or utilise the increase within capacity to grow and take on more projects, and find the time to innovate, differentiate and essentially be more competitive. It's no secret that mistakes are commonly made through manual intervention, and Naviate supports a level of automation that significantly reduces the risk of such errors.
Naviate also comes with access to technical support, covering both the core Autodesk technology as well as Naviate itself. Such an insurance policy reduces stress on the team, protects user wellbeing and provides confidence to explore new, more efficient methodologies of working, rather than sticking with tradition. It also supports the reduction of disruption and the negative impact that this can have on project delivery, reputation, and team morale.
Finally, Naviate also supports its users in driving consistent quality through built in standards. These might be associated to predefined settings within the provided templates or specifications built directly within the functionality itself. With such a broad set of tools now available, Naviate can support customers in removing the burden of having to procure and manage multiple third-party applications. It can also remove the overhead and risk of developing automation in house, enabling users to focus on what they do best.
Naviate has been developed by the Autodesk community, for the community, and with a new release each quarter the product continues to evolve and adapt to new requirements, driven directly by industry feedback. While users appreciate the commercial benefits, they actually value having increased capacity to spend more time on design, creating more elegant buildings and infrastructure and in turn being able to add additional value to their own clients.
For some, it's removing the need to work excessively long hours and instead establish a more sensible work-life balance. We are looking forward to seeing more to come from Naviate.
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