Working together on and in documents, always having access to the latest data and efficiently sharing and exchanging information from different sources: these are things that are of big importance for the success of a construction project. They streamline the building process, but also reduce failure costs in the implementation phase of a construction project.
Do you want structured cooperation with many parties in a dynamic sector such as the construction industry? Then you need a good document management system (DMS). One of the most frequently used collaboration platforms is Google Drive. The platform allows you to collaborate in documents, share calendars and files, and convert documents created in Google Docs to file formats such as Word and PDF. An alternative to Google Drive is Prostream, which is primarily aimed at the construction and manufacturing industry, but can actually be used in any industry.
Which of the two document management systems is the best choice for a construction project manager, who manages multiple project teams and wants to get a grip on all his projects? In this article we give you an indication, based on a fair comparison between Google Drive and Prostream.
About Google Drive
You can think of Google Drive as a virtual hard drive in the cloud. With a Google-account, Google Docs lets you create, access, save, edit and share documents online. You can also organize them in different folders. For example, separate folders per project for building plans, permits, legal documents, schedules or lists of construction materials.
Google Drive also allows users to collaborate on documents. Are you at the office while your colleague is at the construction site? No worries. You can both make changes and comments to the document at the same time. Changes are immediately saved, so you never have to worry about version management again. This way, the project manager and his team can get started quickly, with the right documents and the most important tasks. Google Drive can be used on both traditional desktop and mobile devices.
Prostream is a project management tool with which you manage documents and execute and track processes online. You are also able to collaborate with colleagues or external parties, easily and independently of location. Prostream is developed by Pro4all, based on the 20 years of experience with Docstream in construction and related industries. In addition, Prostream relies on the help of the newest and smartest technologies.
Just like in Google Drive, Prostream provides you with earlier versions of documents. That way, you can keep track of all the edits and changes. And because the version numbers keep running, you can always be sure you’re working with the latest files. Do you want to build in extra certainty? Then you use the QR code scanner in Prostream. With a single click, you place a QR code on your document and scan it with your phone before you start the work. Your phone will tell you whether you are working with the most recent version.
Whenever you call, you get someone on the phone immediately
Collaborating with external parties in Prostream and Google Drive
Google Drive is primarily aimed at setting up a collaboration structure within your own organisation. It is not so difficult to grant external users access and to give them editing rights. However, it is difficult to keep track of who exactly you have given access to which documents and folders. Google Drive also works smoothly with other products from the tech giant such as Gmail, Google Maps, Google Calendar and Meet. You can use many useful features for free.
Prostream is originally aimed at the construction and manufacturing industries. Because subcontractors play an important role in construction projects in particular, Prostream is aimed at facilitating good cooperation with external parties from the very beginning. You give easy and flexible access to all documents that are important for optimizing and streamlining (construction) processes. In addition, Prostream is designed in such a way that the sending of heavy graphic files (construction drawings, CAD drawings) goes fast and smoothly.
Prostream therefore is a product which contains specialized niche functionalities. Those features are only relevant to the construction and manufacturing industry. General parties such as Google (Drive) and Microsoft (SharePoint) would never build them.
Support and distance to the customer in Prostream and Google Drive
Because Google is a billion-dollar company, it naturally has enormous resources for development and innovation. Google’s size can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. In Google Drive, you automatically benefit from the latest technological updates. At the same time, the support is less personal and ‘dedicated’ than when you work with a smaller party. Google has no direct connection with the – for them – modest European construction market. The company focuses mainly on large corporations and paid media budgets. That can be tricky if you have a problem that needs a quick solution.
The communication lines with the support department at Prostream are much shorter than at Google. When you call, you immediately get someone on the phone. You work with a Dutch system, instead of a multinational product like Google Drive. At Prostream, you are assured of a designated person of contact, someone for whom it is normal to visit a project site with the customer, wearing a construction helmet.
Rights and roles in Prostream and Google Drive
Are you sharing a document with someone in Google Drive? Then you can assign three different roles: read-only, make suggestions or assign editing rights. If you work with 500 documents and 20 external parties, it is often a heck of a job to keep an overview within that structure. In Prostream, you are able to assign roles in such a way that not everyone sees every file. For example, a subcontractor cannot go snooping in the management’s folder, some people only have rights to read and others are allowed to make changes.
There is a risk that these links will roam and eventually fall into the wrong hands.
Cybercrime is a hot topic in the digital age we live in. Data is a valuable commodity nowadays. In addition, cybercriminals are becoming increasingly professional. The hacker who used to work from his parents’ attic as a hobby, has made way for criminal gangs who earn their money by full-time searching for digital vulnerabilities in companies.
When it comes to security, Google’s extensive technical and financial resources are, of course, an advantage. Every year, the company invests lots of money and expertise in securing its services. On the other hand, Google is a company that is known for storing and collecting a lot of user data. In fact, selling people’s data in order to serve them ads is Google’s main business model.
Additionally, the safe granting of rights in Google Drive, largely relies on the digital security awareness of its user. Do you want to share a document? Then you send a link to one or more recipients, stating what they can do with a document (only read, make suggestions or edit). There is a risk that these links will roam and eventually fall into the wrong hands.
In Prostream, you can manage links and protect them, for example, with a password. It is also possible to limit the validity with a time lock: the link is then only valid for a limited period of time, for example a day, week or month. Just a bit safer than what Google Drive offers.
Although Google Drive is easy to use and offers a nice spectrum of useful collaboration tools, it is a fairly limited basic product. It consists mainly of documents, spreadsheets and an e-mail function. Which is fine in case you do not need industry-specific features.
Prostream however, has been developed especially for the construction industry. A particularly dynamic sector that requires a completely individual approach, due to specific challenges such as staff shortages, material shortages and high failure costs. In Prostream, for instance, you benefit from the quality assurance module. Whether you work with construction drawings or a simple checklist, with the software built based on Snagstream, you as a builder can quickly check whether your creation meets the required quality level.
You do this by placing a ‘Snag’, in which you indicate with some text, a photo and perhaps some drawn arrows where the problem to be solved lies. The person who has to solve the problem receives a notification. The project manager can see a complete overview of all Snags, and thus the progress of the project, at a glance. Without being bothered with unnecessary details.
Conclusion – Prostream and Google Drive
Google Drive and Prostream are both user-friendly, secure and focused on optimal cooperation. They have also proven their worth in various organisations. The two therefore have many similarities.
But alongside those analogies, a few differences stand out.
- As part of the Google family, Drive is perfectly integrated with the other well-known services of the tech giant. And Google Drive is free.
- Google Drive is very generally applicable, while Prostream provides specific project set-ups and functionalities for the construction sector and manufacturing industry.
- Prostream’s support is more personal and approachable.
Should you choose Prostream or Google Drive? There is no universal answer to this question. It all depends on your requirements, wishes and circumstances. Are you a one-man or two-man team and don’t you need specialist features? Then Google Drive will do just fine. On the other hand, companies with staff who work with many external parties and are looking for industry-specific features, are better off using Prostream. Whatever decision you make, don’t take any chances and take a critical look at what you and your company, department or project need and which DMS is best suited to provide just that.