Getting the most out of your CAD/CAM performance

A Perfect Match: AutoCAD Vault and Microsoft SharePoint

by Bill Martin-Otto on 19 Apr, 2012 in AutoCAD


In recent years, two powerful software tools have revolutionized the way workers within and beyond the manufacturing and architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industries collaborate.

One tool, Autodesk Vault data management software, was designed to help design, engineering and construction workgroups organize, manage and track design data. Autodesk Vault integrates with over twenty different Autodesk Digital Prototyping and Building Information Modeling (BIM) applications, from AutoCAD  to Civil 3D.

The other software program, Microsoft SharePoint, is a powerful business collaboration tool. Primarily for non-designers, SharePoint integrates seamlessly with core business systems, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.

Until recently, it’s been difficult for non-designers to access design data through SharePoint. Some IT departments work around the problem by manually uploading design data to SharePoint, but the dangers of this are all too familiar: version control problems, stale data and files that lack intelligence.

But a sea change is taking place with the integration of Autodesk Vault and SharePoint. You can learn about the obvious and not-so-obvious benefits of this marriage in the Autodesk paper, “Autodesk Vault 2012 and Microsoft SharePoint 2010: Providing Access to Design Data Across the Enterprise”.

A Boon for Designers, Engineers and Architects

The integration runs on Microsoft servers using Microsoft Web services and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2® technology. Engineers, architects and designers manage and track design changes through Autodesk Vault.

In the past, sharing information with non-designers meant that engineers and designers had to attach documents to emails or slowly upload to outdated FTP sites—if firewalls didn’t prevent it. Now, via SharePoint, they can securely share and collaborate on design and engineering data throughout (and beyond) the enterprise.

Architects can enjoy the same efficiencies in dealing with suppliers, owners, contractors and project managers. All of these stakeholders can search, view and print BIM data stored in Vault through a designated SharePoint site.

Designers, engineers and architects have all traditionally spent valuable time distributing information, whether circulating designs for approval, releasing them to manufacturing or sharing them with suppliers. These repetitive manual processes invite errors and version control problems, and are a huge waste of time for people who are hired for their creativity.

Live Design Data for Non-Designers

Because the integration of Autodesk Vault and Microsoft SharePoint connects SharePoint to live Vault data, data is always up to date with what’s in Vault. Having secure access to current data provides an enormous advantage to workers throughout the non-design side of the enterprise:

  • Project managers can now include all project information—including design data—on a project’s SharePoint site
  • Accountants can access current BIM and Digital Prototyping data, allowing them to track project costs more accurately. Managing costs leads to greater profits
  • Procurement departments are able to streamline ordering, get more accurate price quotes and receive better service thanks to easier access to models, drawings, assembly instructions, BOMs and parts lists
  • Sales teams have better information about projects in the pipeline, empowering them to pursue all promising opportunities
  • Marketing teams gain a deeper understanding of the building or product in development, giving them a head start in the pursuit of new clients and customers
  • Field technicians can build customized workflows to generate requests for information (RFIs), enabling two-way communication between the field and design and engineering teams
  • IT personnel, in-house or hired, don’t have to spend time customizing the integration, and can manage SharePoint lists using standardized processes

Shared Benefits

With the ability to share design data and business information across and beyond the enterprise, companies should be able to increase productivity, respond more quickly to change and make better decisions.

Let us know if you’re using Vault and SharePoint to collaborate, or if you think switching to that approach could help improve your performance.

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