March 12, 2016 | by Wayne Smith

SaaS for Data Center Design and Review

This is the first of several blogs about Vertex’s Project Management System (VPMS) which is a Software as a Service (SaaS) productivity tool. VPMS is a set of secure cloud based applications and databases that are readily available to assigned users. This article will briefly address the use of its Document Management applications as they are used to streamline a client’s design and review process for designing network equipment centers. In future blogs we will address other applications provided by this SaaS, such as Drawing Management applications and Mobile applications.

Designing a network equipment center is a very complex endeavor. There are many thousands to millions of parts, equipment, standards, government regulations, activities, resources, processes, conditions, etc. that must be considered. In addition, the design process will normally involve several architects, many engineering specialists and several peer reviewers. An equipment center design can take months to design and be quite expensive. It is truly a monumental task. Since implementing VPMS, this client has saved a significant amount of money through increased productivity, reduced time, improved information access, better decision-making and standards compliance. This is achieved by having a means to organize the myriad of data associated with a successful project.

What is the Design and Review Process?

A design and review process is required for each project at an existing, new or acquired network equipment center, data center or mobile switching center in the network. The process can have up to five iterative cycles of design and review. Each cycle will include old documents, changing documents, new documents, forms, drawings and memoranda. These will be reviewed, corrected and enhanced by architects, engineers, peer reviewers and coordinators. After each phase is completed, the process starts into the next phase. Each phase has a limited amount of time to be completed, approved and moved on.

The Value of VPMS’ Document Management

VPMS provides a secure work and storage environment with multiple security levels and centrally managed access control for all the required documentation for the design and review process. It provides organization of all relevant documentation for a given project and may include, for example, emails, CAD drawings, design phase review checklists, and all relevant documents referenced on the checklists. Users are given specific access rights, based on their role within the project, to use applications as well as to view, change, upload, download and send documents as appropriate. The user can search for and retrieve documents while the system handles the archiving. Architects, engineers and managers can access the system via mobile phones, tablets and laptops from anywhere with Internet access. The system also supports customized workflows that ensure each process is completed as required. Workflows are defined by the system administrator through easy-to-use interactive tools. Within each workflow, the system will ensure the proper documents are assembled, delivered to the proper recipients and users are notified of their delivery. Each revision and version is tracked and archived for future reference. When a workflow is completed and approved by the coordinator, they are updated as a new version. Of course, the system handles all of the technical issues of DWG, PDF and other file formats. The system simply has too many functions to address in this short article, but the reader should get an idea of its function. In short, it keeps the process organized and continuing as planned.

Benefits

The obvious benefits for using this system include: the process and documents are secure, documents are readily available, each and every change is recorded, the process is transparent, every user has the latest revision or version, and the status of each project is known. From a management point of view, productivity of all parties has increased, collaboration has improved, compliance is ensured, the information is always easily accessible and costs are minimized.