This is how the municipality of Zoetermeer (NL) keeps an overview of ongoing projects.

The municipality of Zoetermeer (NL) oversees all projects digitally in one environment.

This article is written about Docstream and Snagstream, the precursors and the solid foundation of what now is Prostream. The components of the products are the same and are supplemented in Prostream with today’s modern features. The article below gives a good picture of both the essence of Docstream and Snagstream, as well as that of Prostream.

For 20 years, we at Pro4all have been making software for the construction and manufacturing industry. At least, that is how it all started. Because just as the construction industry needs a clear structure, a razor-sharp division of roles and rights and a clear pattern of expectations, other industries are no different. Take, for instance, the field in which municipalities operate: many parties have to cooperate with each other and it is important to minimise failure costs. That is why the municipality of Zoetermeer started working with Docstream (the precursors of Prostream). And with the solid basis of Docstream and the new smart functions, keeping an overview in Prostream has become even easier. We asked project manager Guus de Goede and real estate portfolio manager Benno Moor how it works for them.

Internal and external colleagues work in the same document management system

“The path to Docstream was not an unfamiliar one,” says De Goede. “In recent years we have had a number of large projects, including, for example, the refurbishment of City Hall. During those projects, the contractor used Docstream and that was actually my first contact with the whole system. Now, as a municipality, we are busy with further professionalisation and digitisation, and in that context we thought: how can we cooperate well with both internal and external colleagues within a solid system. We then had a number of presentations by parties and, based on previous experience, we simply felt that Docstream would be the right tool for the job. There are already so many parties working with Pro4all-products in the construction world, that gave us a good feeling.”

Because working with Google was not easy, you noticed that support for working that way waned rather quickly amongst the parties involved.

Why doesn’t another system, like Google Drive or Sharepoint, suffice?

“We work with large amounts of data,” Moor adds. “In the project sphere, we have to deal with a dynamic archive and in doing so, we kept running into the fact that sharing files is quite difficult. We used to work with other systems before this, such as Google Drive, but that didn’t work well with external people. For example, external partners who didn’t need to access every document, but then couldn’t find certain pieces properly either. Because working with Google wasn’t easy, you also noticed that support for working that way waned rather quickly. Fortunately, we were able to convince people within the municipality quite easily that Docstream has added value compared to, for example, Google OneDrive and Sharepoint or something similar.”

You notice during such a process, that you are quite stuck in your own mindset. And then it is nice to have someone actively thinking along with you.

And then the implementation process for the document management tool was there

When an organisation starts using solutions from Pro4all, they are not just thrown in at the deep end. An implementation process is started, in which a consultant looks precisely at the specific working method of the party in question and the requirements that go with it. “Of course, the system has been around for some time and has proven itself within the construction industry and therefore there are quite a few best practices,” says Moor. “And a lot is possible within Docstream, so that’s why we were curious about those best practices. We indicated what our wishes were and the consultant [Fharly Ajoeb] took this up and proposed a structure that worked well for us. You notice during such a process, that you are quite stuck in your own mindset. And then it iis nice to have someone who actively thinks along with you. They say, for example: ‘why don’t you do it this way or that way, because we have had good experiences with that’, and that indeed turns out to work.”

There are a whole lot of online tools that lead to project management

“Indeed, the trick then is to ensure that a certain standard is introduced, but that the environment remains Zoetermeer-specific,” de Goede adds. “And we did manage to do that. It is actually good if people think critically about what we want. In fact, at first we had quite strong opinions about how we would like it. Then, during the implementation process, we were given tools, or those best practices Benno [Moor] was talking about were presented to us. And in the end you are happy that it has been turned around a bit, in a different direction. It stands well now, without us feeling like our ideas were lost. It was often in small things, and those small things still make the system work optimally.”

Project management became tangible

“What was so nice was that everything was made tangible,” De Goede continues. “For example, we would have the idea that part of the environment needed to be designed in a certain way. Then consultant Fharly would come back with two examples. Our way ánd the way it could be done just a little bit better. That makes it very tangible, you can see the effect those small adjustments have. This also made it a lot easier for us to ultimately take the decision on how we want to set up the system.”

Get the database in order now, it will save you later

Of course, Docstream takes a lot of work off your hands, but there is still plenty of room for your own input. In fact, this input is necessary, as Moor also knows: “Of course you still have to do some work, for example, you have to fill in all the metadata of all the documents very strictly. And that has to wear in. In Google Drive, for instance, you could decide for yourself whether or not you filled in the corresponding metadata, in Docstream you have to do that before you can continue. This is positive, because you very consciously name everything and in this way you guarantee for someone else that he knows exactly what he is opening and that no documents are lost. It may take a few seconds more, but it is a lot more structured as a result. During the process, you are therefore correcting a lot less. The convenience of another system (like Google Drive for example) therefore became a major pitfall.”

This way, you keep ultimate control and it does a lot for collaboration.

With Prostream you keep ultimate control of your projects

Concluding, De Goede says: “In particular, having all parties responsible for their own document management already takes so much out of our hands. The moment a document is uploaded, we receive a notification in our mailbox and can immediately link an action to it. For example, when a blueprint must be checked, it is then in the constructor’s hands for a certain time, you pin the date of, say, next Friday and the person receives a notification in his environment. So he knows exactly when that check has to be done and we can then follow the progress, too. You keep ultimate control this way and it does a lot for cooperation.”