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Bentley’s ProjectWise 365 Has Gone SaaS—Brings Broad Market and Platform Appeal to AECO Industry

The future of Bentley’s ProjectWise 365 looks bright—technical advances, standards adoption, and carry-over from traditional ProjectWise customers all suggest good things for Bentley.

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ProjectWise 365—3D and BIM Viewing

As a global leader in infrastructure design and engineering software, Bentley’s executives sometimes use terms like 3D models where other companies might use BIM. ProjectWise 365, like its predecessor, is designed for both building and infrastructure projects. In addition to marking up PDFs, it can also provide a markup collaboration environment for BIM or 3D CAD model data via the new iTwin Design Review—Ad Hoc workflow, which is a cloud service that is included with ProjectWise 365.

Review 3D BIM models directly inside ProjectWise 365 by initiating an iTwin Design Review, including concurrent, multi-user sessions with markup capabilities. (Image: Bentley Systems / All rights reserved.)

To use the iTwin Design Review Ad Hoc workflow, model data must first be converted into an iModel. As we mentioned during the Year in Infrastructure 2019 Conference, Bentley created iModel Bridge for IFC to get IFC geometry data into its iModel format. Robert DeFeo reassured me that most of the major 3D and BIM tools in AEC can now create iModels. A complete list of software that produces iModel files from Bentley isn’t easy to find on their website—but any format supported by Bentley’s MicroStation can be output as an iModel.

Inside ProjectWise 365’s iTwin Design Review Ad Hoc workflow, a concurrent, multi-team review and markup session can occur, as long as the data is in iModel format. Markups live with the review session, and presumably, these markups in 3D review sessions can also be turned into “issues” and assigned to individuals in the system.

BCF, BS 1192, and ISO 19650

ProjectWise 365 is not fully BS 1192 compliant nor compliant with the ISO 19650 standard. However, DeFeo stated ProjectWise 365 is flexible enough to set up a workflow process that supports the BS 1192 process of WIP (work-in-progress), Share, Published, and Archived.

“We don’t currently support WIP (work-in-progress) on the ProjectWise 365 platform, but when we do it in the future, we will definitely support any of the standards that are required,” says Robert DeFeo, “including BS 1192 and ISO 19650 standard.”

“We are not only going to be supporting standards like BS 1192 and ISO 19650—and really what that means is providing a template, so the user doesn’t have to build it themselves—if someone wants to do a modification on the BS 1192 standard they can,” he adds. “There are different regions in the world who are adopting parts of the BS 1192 standard; they don’t necessarily follow it to the letter—like in South East Asia and even Latin America.”

Review ProjectWise 365 features Dashboard functionalities that enable teams and project stakeholders to get high-level status overviews of project issues, average open vs closed issues, average open issue resolution time, and other analytics that provide insight for project management performance. (Image: Bentley Systems / All rights reserved.)

As for BCF (BIM Collaboration Format), a buildingSMART and Open BIM standard for data exchange between BIM applications, ProjectWise 365 today cannot produce one or ingest that format and the data that comes with it. However, Bentley’s BIM applications can. “That’s more at the application level,” DeFeo says, “but the BCF files can be shared through ProjectWise 365.”

Closing Comments

In some ways, the most exciting aspect about ProjectWise 365 is that a leading staple technology in the AEC industry, and a brand with high recognition and trust, is now much more attainable for small and medium-sized architecture, engineering, and AE firms. It is likely significant that Bentley takes on this smaller sized part of the market as well because the barrier to entry for a SaaS-based CDE tool is low from a technical point of view. Anybody could come along and quickly grab a lot of thunder.

Moreover, Bentley’s CDE competitors are literally in every corner of the AECO market, across all regions. Bentley will need technology that is flexible enough for all AECO participants so that the company can, ultimately, defend its leadership in this sector of the CDE market. Its iModel.js technology seems smart being open source, including connections to IFC. But to win in the CDE space, you also need flexibility with workflows, with capacities for standards like BS 1192 and all AECO participant needs.

“I would put up our workflows against anybody’s workflows in the industry,” says DeFeo. “They are just extremely advanced; they provide a lot of flexibility and allow users to do just about anything they want within their workflow.”

Availability and Pricing

Bentley ProjectWise 365 has currently been free since Bentley’s Covid-19 pandemic response to remote work needs. It is free until 30 September 2020. For further information on pricing after this period, readers can contact a Bentley representative on this page here. For more information, go here.

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