Project managers and planners in the construction industry cannot do without a good digital information and document management system nowadays. Only if you are sure that you are always working with the most up-to-date documents and data, can you automate or standardise workflows and processes and avoid spending most of your time solving problems.
We previously made an honest DMS comparison between Prostream and SharePoint. Another tool that organisations still sometimes fall back on, especially for sharing photos and blueprints, is Dropbox. But is this really the most appropriate digital tool for this purpose? Or is it wiser to go for a more industry-specific solution, like Prostream? You can read about it in this article, where we make an honest comparison between Dropbox and Prostream.
Prostream was developed with the wants and needs of construction companies in mind.
What can you use Dropbox for?
Dropbox has become a popular cloud solution for storing and sharing files. A Dropbox account can be accessed from your computer, on Dropbox.com (where you also manage your account preferences) and via the Dropbox mobile app.
But what can you do with Dropbox? Quite a lot. Think about the following functionalities, for example:
- Sync files across computers and mobile devices and share those files with third parties right away.
- Standard storage capacity of 2 GB. By choosing a paid account, you can scale this up to 1 TB.
- A Dropbox folder that you can completely customise. You can create multiple main and subfolders.
- Create photo galleries when uploading photos to the ‘Photos folder’.
- The Dropbox mobile app lets you easily access files from any phone or tablet you’re signed in to. So you can view comments anywhere, scan receipts and other documents with your phone’s camera and even make files available for offline access.
- Dropbox Paper is an online workspace where people can work on documents together. This functionality is very similar to Google Docs in terms of features and set-up.
- You can create a shortcut to a web page and save it to your Dropbox account, in the same way you would save a file. Shortcuts make it easy to keep material from online project management and productivity tools, news items, wiki pages and Paper documents with your other work in Dropbox.
- Share your work directly from your Dropbox account. Any file changes you make are automatically updated in real time for anyone you have given access to the file.
- Dropbox has a dedicated security page where you can adjust settings and easily monitor linked devices, active web sessions and third-party apps. You can unlink apps and delete devices if you don’t trust something.
So what can you do with Prostream?
Prostream is a document management system and quality assurance tool, developed with the wants and needs of construction companies in mind. Besides fairly generic DMS functionalities, such as the ability to preview and share files, efficient version management thanks to continuous version numbers and plenty of remote collaboration options, Prostream also has specialist functionalities that many comparable solutions lack.
You will find a BIM viewer in Prostream, for example. And not just any BIM viewer. For many construction professionals, the Autodesk Forge 3D Viewer is the standard within the current market for BIM viewers. The tool allows you to check the properties of all objects in a model against the calculations made. In addition, it is possible to view the individual elements of a building in detail by virtually splitting the drawn structure into different components.
The Forge Viewer also allows you to create a horizontal or vertical cross-section of a 3D model. In addition, there is the possibility of a virtual walk through a building, which allows you to make all available building and interior options visible and tangible to a buyer, for example.
When searching for a document, Prostream also lets you look beyond the title or file type. In fact, you can also search by content. Do you attach tags and metadata to your documents? Then you will find them even faster and they will automatically follow the steps in your project. Prostream also lets you group tasks. Very handy for steps that employees have to perform in a fixed order in one procedure.
Prostream offers many more features that are made specifically for the construction industry.
Prostream versus Dropbox
Dropbox offers the necessary features and functionalities for document management, information management and (remote) collaboration and is certainly useful for students and self-employed workers. However, Prostream offers much more functionalities besides that, that are made specifically for the construction industry. Time for an honest comparison between the two.
Dropbox is, of course, free when using up to 2GB, very user-friendly and has a low entry threshold. Moreover, it is a tool that many organisations and people are already familiar with and thus easy to work with. But in terms of features that builders specifically need to work more efficiently, the offering is sparse.
In terms of storage capacity, the free version of Dropbox is very limited. 2 GB is quickly reached, especially if you work with large files such as BIM models, CAD drawings or 3D models. Dropbox also falls short on functionalities that builders need to produce good work. Features such as upload and download logs, expected publication dates and the ability to stamp QR codes are standard in Prostream, but lacking in a generic information and document management system like Dropbox.
There are also more extensive file fencing options available in Prostream. Think, for example, of information for management that is not intended for subcontractors. Prostream is also, more than Dropbox, optimised for quickly sending large files such as blueprints, CAD drawings or interactive models.
Another limitation of Dropbox is that you cannot collaborate on a document with several people at the same time. This is because if you do, Dropbox creates two different files of the document. This means, for example, that you won’t automatically work with the latest version of a construction drawing or checklist if someone else also makes changes.
The main difference between Dropbox and Prostream is that the first solution, like another generic DMS like Google Drive, is not a document management system that meets the challenges modern construction companies face. Dropbox is actually not a serious contender. Prostream provides everything Dropbox has, and more. In addition, Prostream also offers a free trial that lets you get to know the solution.
With Prostream, you benefit from distinctive features such as:
- Functionalities and workflows tailored to construction projects;
- Specific features for construction that you do not get with general solutions;
- Better communication and advice: the supplier has experience in construction.