With every software upgrade there are always many moving parts that need to be considered. In this article I will cover some that come into play when upgrading to the latest version of Autodesk® Revit® Structure. Keep in mind these are recommendations and every software implementation is different because there are so many factors to consider.
I personally do not like to upgrade to the latest release until the first service packs are released. Once Revit Structure 2015 is available, it is a good idea to install on the CAD Manager’s/BIM Manager’s machine and maybe one power user for testing. There are many factors to consider and it is a good time for testing while waiting for the first service packs to come out. The rest of this article will scratch the surface on other considerations.
After the initial product release, Autodesk will release service packs for bug fixes, etc. within the first quarter. My recommendation is to wait for a period of four to five months after the initial product release before upgrading. This waiting period is an ideal time for testing some of the items that are discussed below.
If your firm is utilizing any third party add-ons, you will want to make sure you have the 2015 version of them that you can include in your deployments. There are so many third-party developers for Revit, and as Autodesk continues to open up the API, more and more are coming out of the woodwork. So proceed with caution—some of these developers may not be ready for the new release, and if their tools are a part of your internal workflow it could have a big impact on production with your software upgrade.
Make sure you understand all the new features of Revit Structure 2015 and how it may impact your existing project start-up templates. A simple example may be your preset analytical views. Revit Structure 2015 has a new local coordinate system for analytical model elements. You may need to test your predefined analytical views to ensure the visibility is correct so you can take advantage of that new feature.
The content libraries you have been developing will need to be looked at. As you load families, they will be upgraded. If you are running two versions for a period of time you need to consider copying your content library and giving it a review. Look at the Revit Structure 2015 Family templates—some may have been enhanced and you should replace the ones you are using. During the testing phase, someone needs to review the content and templates you are using.
Analytical Software Compatibility
A big part of the workflow for structural engineers is the analytical tools they use for structural analysis. This should probably be your first and most import testing before implementing any upgrade to Revit Structure. Understand your workflow. Maybe to this day, the structural engineer still makes a separate analytical model and does not try any interoperability with Revit, so it will not be as big a concern. However, if you are linking your Revit model into RISA or Robot structural analysis, you need to make sure the 2015 version is ready and understand the new features. You need to understand any impact this may have on your workflow and test some existing models for validation. The CAD/BIM manager needs to rely heavily on the engineering staff for this testing.
Compatibility is not only a firm-wide consideration—it includes your consultants and current projects. Understand the projects you have currently underway and if you are working with outside consultants as part of the collaborative team, are they upgrading? Not all firms immediately upgrade to the latest. Some firms, such as the one I work for, will upgrade every other release unless it is required to do so sooner. So be aware of who you interact with and how that will affect your project. Just because a new version of software is out with some new features does not mean you need to immediately pull the trigger. You may run two versions based on project requirements. If so make sure you test that install environment as well.
Training is a must with any new software release. Without training, software will be used how it was used yesterday and new features will not be taken advantage of. Some of these new features could have a major impact on production and workflow. Do not expect staff members to learn on their own, though some individuals will. You need to have a training plan in place during your software upgrade so it is fresh in their minds and is timely.
After you have taken all of the above into consideration, it is time to implement your software upgrade. If you use deployments make sure they have been tested thoroughly. After software is rolled out it is a good idea to stay in constant contact with the staff to make sure you can head off any issues. Plan some lunchtime training webinars on new features to reinforce the training that should have taken place as the software upgrade was happening. And of course, record any lessons learned because by the time the dust settles, a new version will be coming out soon.
New features in this release of Revit Structure specific to the structural discipline fill in some gaps with reinforcement and analytical model control. These features should help the industry move even closer to a complete solution by allowing the Revit model to link better to fabrication and analysis, improving overall workflow. During every software upgrade, be properly prepared with a plan!