How to select the appropriate CDE tool for your organization and project?

What is CDE and what role it play in a BIM project?

Bonus: Keep yourself up to date with BIM activities around the world 2020

CDE stand for Common Data Environment is BIM environment where all of members of project can collect, manage, transform and archive document and graphical and non-graphical assets of project. Each project requires a unique CDE to avoid duplicated and refused information. In using a single source of information, collaboration between project members should be enhanced, mistakes reduced and duplication avoided. Therefore CDE consider being backbone of any BIM compliance projects. It will be set up in the beginning of project (0-1) from design (3-4) to construction (5) to Handover (6) and maintain to operation (7) and retained in even when the building will be demolished. The good CDE will fulfill building information from starting to ending.

Construction stages

Why CDE?

Comparing to information exchange method in the previous time, each company establishes an intranet to share internal files. The small sized companies employ between 10-20 employees establish the intranets network with some servers. This system requires a maintenance team due to electrical fire risk or faulty hard disk. The larger companies have Data Center that requires an IT apartment for operation.

About Software, almost data on the internal server is managed by folder structure that when you want to look for a file, you have to browser entire of that folder tree. The larger companies is easier thank for some software of document management. However, email still plays an important role in information exchange.

In the recently, with the development of cloud computing, stakeholders exchange information via a general environment such as Dropbox, Google Drive, FTP…that easier to manage information than email but they are still static environment. They manage by folde but not allow you to track the changes during the design process. You can only check the popular files such as .doc, .pdf. With the typical files like dwg or revit, you have to download to computer which supports Revit software that you can check them. Therefore the design workflow still base on paper. Each participant of project including architect, structure, MEP engineers… have a paper document (drawing, description of production…).

It results to lost information and the used information may not the last one.

Contractor will make a very thick copy for as-built document to employer and useless for Operation and Management stage.

It is one of reason why BIM was born led to CDE is the generation to acquire efficiency. CDE has many functions, to achieve Level 2 in the UK, CDE is operated according to PAS 1192-2 standards, here are some key functions:

1.CDE is to archive data on the cloud, your facility will be archived in somewhere in the world, in the data center of Google , Amazon,… ensure absolutely confidential data with data of banks or US Department of Defense. Data on cloud help to access in anytime and anywhere by just Ipad and Internet.

CDE Based Cloud
2.CDE allow you to look for data you need easily as you google it
CDE powerfull search
3.CDE allow you to track all of versions. Not only uploading the latest drawing, but keeping all of previous to ensure you always use the latest information of others to design and help you compare and analyze what happens
CDE Version tracking
4.Online Viewer file: The current CDE allow you to view almost the popular format for engineer and architects like doc, pdf, xls, dwg and 3D IFC models. It helps all of participants to be able to view file that don’t need to set up too much software.
For example; on the worksite, workers only need have Ipad to view all 2D and 3D files to understand what they must do that don’t need a PC or Laptop with the necessary software.
CDE IFC Viewing
5.To collaborate, review and approval: you can view and mark the comment online. All of comments will be reported automatically to other parts. Once review process is ending, you can approve the drawing and stamp “Release for construction” online. So workers will construct all of approved “Release for construction” works that have not to wait the time to architects and engineers making decision for changes.
CDE collaboration

Release for construction

6.Thanks for data on CDE, from design to construction, so to the as-built stage, you will acquire digital as-built document. For the O&M, Project management unit can export the necessary information to manage information better.
Some advices on evaluation and selection appropriate CDE tools

The development of BIM led to significant improvement of Common Data Environment technology. As I mentioned above, CDE is the crucial and initial must-have to integrate BIM to any project. Nowaday, there are so many BIM vendors have developed a particular CDE platform in order to facilitate users in design worksharing and multi-company collaboration on that, such as: Viewpoint, Autodesk’s BIM 360 Docs, Aconex, Bentley’s Project Wise, Tekla BIM Insignt…

An NBS, a BIM specification company based UK, follow-up question asked respondents to list the CDEs they use. This invited free text responses, and some people cited more than one platform, so the percentages do not sum to 100; the survey suggests Viewpoint For Projects is the most widely used CDE ahead of Aconex/Conject (these businesses merged in March 2016) and Asite. Generic file-sharing applications, including Dropbox (neck-and-neck with Autodesk’s BIM360 range), Microsoft’s Sharepoint and Google Drive also featured in the most commonly cited answers – although NBS noted many respondents said they used these general tools for “projects of a less complex nature”. I understand from NBS that some other solutions (eg: GroupBC’s CDE) did not feature in the report’s final list as they got less than five mentions.
NBS Report for CDE
When selecting the appropriate Construction Management Software for your organization or project, you should examine the functions, costs, along with other critical information about the product and vendor. All of CDE platforms recently are integrating advanced and general features I mentioned above. As well as, analyze the terms thoroughly for information on hidden costs, such as, setup fees, separate support plan, upgrade fees, disk space fees, and other similar charges. As in the article, with our using experiences, we will review 2 CDE tools you can consider are: Autodesk’s 360 Docs and Bentley Project Wise. Bellows are some comparison between them:


Autodesk's BIM 360 Docs

Bentley Projectwise

General Description

Autodesk BIM 360 is a software product that gives project teams the tools to coordinate better, communicate effectively, and resolve issues quickly.

ProjectWise is a cloud-based tool that focuses on collaboration and real-time visibility into project progress that help to Improve your project performance by integrating people, data, and processes throughout the project lifecycle.

Available Language


English, French, Chinese, German, Korean, Russian

Supported Integrated

Autodesk’s 360 Docs supports the following integration options:

-Help & Video Illustrations


-Drop Box


-Google Drive



Project Wise Connect Edition supports the following integration options:

-Controlling Office integration (for Excel, words, powerpoint, outlook)

-Unlocking iDesktop

-Title Block Integration with AutoCAD

-Best-in-class Design Application Integration

-ProjectWise Exlporer Integration

Type of support





List of Features

- Custom reports and analysis

- Pushpin construction issues

- Project status and description

- Safety inspection

- Streamline job site inspections

- Track key performance indicators

- Dashboards

- Quality assurance/quality control

- Identify trends and minimize contractor risk

- Construction tracking

- Standardized checklist templates

- Real-time data

- Building information modeling (BIM)

- Integrate with Navisworks

- Navigate and interact with models on an iPad

- Manage field performance

- View field data updates


- Access Control

- Activity Dashboard

- Automatic Reminders

- Calendar Management

- Collaboration Tools

- Collaborative Workspace

- Commenting

- Content Repository

- Data Synchronization

- Deadline Tracking

- Discussion Board

- Document Assembly

- Drag & Drop Interface

- File Management

- Lifecycle Management

- Meeting Management

- Multi-Department / Project

- PDF Conversion

- Progress Tracking

- Project Management

- Projections

- Quality Control

- Real Time Data

- Real Time Notifications

- Real Time Updates

- Risk Alerts

- Risk Assessment

- Rules-Based Workflow

- Supply Chain Planning

- Task Management

- Task Planning

- Task Scheduling

- Task Tracking

- Version Control

- Workflow Management

Available devices







Web-based Adroid


Available Plans

Autodesk BIM 360 offers a 30-day free trial to try out the features. When the trial ends, you may choose between the free plan and paid plans based on the number of subscriptions and to access advanced features that are priced on an annual basis.

Free plan – $0

·1 project

·Unlimited users and storage

Single subscription – $29/month

·1 subscription

·Unlimited users, storage, and project

For project team collaboration – $249/month

·25 subscription pack

·Unlimited users, storage, and project

Collaboration with all stakeholders – $599/month

·100 subscription pack

·Unlimited users, storage, and project

Custom plan – By quote

·For exact features that meet your needs

Contact vendor for pricing information or a quote

Business size

Small Business | Large Enterprises | Medium Business

Mid-sized design firms | Large Enterprises

Popular clients

Balfour Beatty, DPR Construction, Consigli, Mortenson Construction

AECOM Technology Corp, Jacobs, Perkins+Will, Gensler, HOK, Arup


Bellows are some review about pros and cons of BIM 360 Docs:


- Allow to check clash detection online due to integrate with Navisworks

- Ability to attach all forms of documents, fill out and customize many different fields

- easy to recall checklists, issues, reports

- This allows for a very high level of detail and documentation and enhance communication so that everyone knows what the status of every piece is.

- The print reports and schedule reports module is really helpful. There are many different report types and layout options, which is repeatedly useful.

- It is easy to see any pertinent info in Issue list view, and print quickly from that page.

- Customizing the different types of drop down Issue Filters for different users is very handy, and necessary. And it is very easy to sort and search for Issues using the filter module in Issue List view.

- Speed support

- Saves time in downloading and uploading - creates better collaboration by having a format all team members can review - without specialized software.

- Cheap solution

- User friendly interface. The visual and easy to handle features allowed users to express concepts, ideas and resolve problems during construction.

- Missing feature “Sort by file’s format”


Some common issues may be mentioned that:.

- Pinning an issue from the website version is not very intuitive, and takes you a completely different pathway to find the maps. This should be something that is easy to get to from the window of an open issue, just like the iPad app version.

- No possibility of batch or automated functions

- Navigation on iPads is a bit hard to learn at first for field staff

- There is limited storage space & battery life on the ipads. It takes a long time for the sync process to complete.

- Setup is time intensive

Bellows are some review about pros and cons of Projectwise:


- Huge storage capabilities for all types of files,

- provides a flexible file structure and allows easy storage sharing and collaboration on security data based cloud in various levels at all stages of project development and design

- Easy compatibility with all Bentley civil engineering design programs

- facilitated good sharing and cooperation between in-house personnel and the customers.

- Easy to find even years later

- The variable levels of access controls can seem frustrating at first to the ordinary user, but are highly useful in controlling access to data


- It can be slow. Sometimes it goes down. There's a box that started auto-checking itself a few months ago that makes you open a read-only copy of things, and this resulted in my doing a bunch of analysis that didn't get saved, and a really awkward conversation with my group leader because said analysis was not there when we needed it to be.

- Upgrading the software can be a quite daunting task. The ability to integrate some of the more complex pieces of software Autodesk develops could use some attention.


Started with $29

Start with $180

ViBIM is using parallel both of that tools for 2 large projects in Vietnam and the US. Project wise is more suitable with the large projects than BIM 360 Docs. But nowadays, BIM 360 Docs is becoming more popular because of its advantage in time and cost .
Tác giả: Quynh Pham