V+S Design Partners: Augmenting the Core Potential of Humans + Machines for the AEC Industry 

Jagan Venkataramanan
V+S Design

To create a magnum opus, Architects and Engineers must visualize their masterpiece creations in a 360-degree virtual panoramic environment. Immersed in the three-dimensional visually rich BIM world of V+S Design Partners-www.vs-dp.com, an innovatively genius mind like Jagan Venkataramanan, the Founder and Managing Partner and his talented and dedicated team, can work from anywhere and at any time to stay connected with their dreamy vision.

The focus remains seamless, in this vast hyper-reality, encompassing every precise detail up to the extremes of the architectural, engineering, and construction spectrum.

“Our profession is analogous to a symphony orchestra’s conductor,” expresses Jagan, using a parallel. “Every musical instrument’s capability, timbre, pitch and range is comprehensively understood by the conductor, who knows when, how, and by whom the instrument should be performed. There are specific times for musical phrases to enter and exit a musical composition.”

In musical terms, occasionally, the same music is played by all together, referred to as ‘tutti,’ sometimes one must play slowly, rapidly, melodically, and sometimes several must perform harmonically. We can only envisage what a symphony orchestra would be like minus a proficient music conductor!

Likewise, there is a precise sequencing of works in the architectural, engineering, and construction industries, and sometimes works happen concurrently or often times sequentially. We see ourselves as the ‘conductor’ of the design and construction’s symphony. Akin to the act of the multi-talented ‘conductor,’ our role as the BIM/VDC manager encompasses the varied activities and sequences that must be orchestrated with diligence and precision.”

Orchestrating Architectural and Engineering Workflows

Mentored expertly by Jagan and guided by his able senior management team, team V+S is bringing innovative Architectural, Engineering, and Design solutions to their clients through their superior technology offerings, efficient workflow management, seamless collaboration, and specialization in Building Information Modelling (BIM), and Virtual Design and Construction (VDC).

Their senior executives’ combined experience and expertise which exceeds over 100 years drive the company’s vision and mission, where they deliver hassle-free partnerships and remote workforce to several globally reputed international firms mostly in the United States, in construction, engineering, and architectural tech . “We call ourselves design orchestrators revolutionizing the global architectural and engineering industry’s tech prowess,” states Jagan.

V+S design partners’ core team has extensive experience ranging from pure play design to on-site program and project management experience to expertise in handling very large-scale projects from the concept until completion to major global clients..

They have worked and are currently working on mega projects with several fortune 100 clients and with the top companies and enterprises internationally and in India in various sectors ranging from science and technology, high-tech industrial and manufacturing, healthcare and hospitality, real estate, aviation, and transportation and infrastructural sectors.

Moreover, they have collaborated with experts from various fields and can effortlessly turn their client’s visions into reality. The firm’s goals are to ultimately productize some of the shared solutions and curate customized software and expert systems for use by global architectural, engineering, and construction firms.

Such expert systems could be useful for this and the coming generation, where the collective knowledge of the firm’s leaders and team members can be preserved and harnessed at all times using cutting-edge tools in AI/ML/bots and systematic knowledge transfer, could be preserved for posterity instead of it dying out when senior members either move out of the firm or eventually retire.

Jagan adds, “We can hire talent from any part of the world and work with clients from all over the world as well, thanks to the concept of Common Data Environment (CDE) on the cloud and our hybrid working and a truly collaborative approach using cloud based collaborative technologies which aids our work flows.” Furthermore, software tools exist that enable the BIM model’s authoring and auditing for clash detection, conflict resolution, extracting quantities, sustainability tracking, and leveraging for tracking costs and managing time by connecting to a prevalent project and computer-aided facility management (CAFM) software having the capability of effectively using ‘Digital Twins”.

According to Ajay Sharma, Director at V+S, all projects vary in their uniqueness and particular challenges. V+S Design Partners always add something extra to the project that their clients do not request or expect. They believe they are their own competitor, often seeing their workplace as a playground for innovation and striving to add value to their clients’ assignments.

Hybrid and Remote workshare partnerships

Jagan expresses that with the pandemic and remote working scenarios commonplace, industries widely recognize BIM and other technological tools’ value. “We had always believed that we could work from anywhere,” he reveals and the recent pandemic forced us in this direction.

Working in a central model with interlinked files achieves effective collaboration for large projects. As a result, there has been a noticeable shift in the emphasis placed on more efficient collaboration using BIM tools.

Companies who work without using a central CDE and remote workers working in siloes and in noncentralized environment suffer from quality issues and missed delivery deadlines. “We can hire talent and work with clients from all over the world thanks to the CDE and hybrid working approach,” which we have embraced as part of our culture.

Every day, team V+S goes out there to enhance the functioning and experiences of their projects toward a sustainable workflow. Modernization of legacy systems and methodologies is the need of the hour, and V+S does not leave any stone unturned.

The urgency in the younger generation’s training and mentoring is necessary, and an efficient transfer of expertise and experience from legacy methods to digital technologies is to be routinely done . By this, the traditional brick-and-mortar processes could be transformed into technologically advanced digital interfaces.

There is a lot of work to be done in modernizing antiquated methods of working with legacy systems. The task of transferring the trusted brick-and-mortar process onto a technological interface and training and mentoring the younger generation is thus urgent. “We believe that within the next decade, a large portion of the global architectural, engineering, and real estate development community will fully adopt BIM-based workflows,” he shares. Numerous countries worldwide – mostly in the developed and developing world – have made it mandatory to utilize these dependable methods for all governmental regulatory submissions.

Rajarshi Das, Senior architect and CTO at V+S design partners adds that in India, BIM-based workflows have already been implemented in all major infrastructure projects in aviation, roads, and rail networks and are rapidly catching up in building design, facility creation, and smart city programs.

India’s Only Architectural and Engineering SaaS based ERP – Konnect

Newton Singh- Senior Software architect at V+S design partners has researched and found that Konnect is the only ERP software in India developed by industry-leading architects and engineers for project-based Architectural and Engineering consultancy firms having over 30 years of A/E domain expertise. “We’ve always been interested in unravelling workflows in architects/engineers/interior designers’ offices. Jagan’s previous domain work experience has  aided us in developing this software ,” he says.

In other developed western and asian countries, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems like Konnect are widely used to enhance efficiency and ensure smooth partnerships among all project and firm’s stakeholders. The system basically lessens physical load by decreasing errors, facilitating smooth collaboration and workflows in CRM, project accounting, procurement, HR, timesheets, and project management by syncing all in  a single platform. As a result, there is a seamless management of day-to-day office procedures.

According to Jagan, most small and mid-sized architectural and engineering consulting firms still depend on 2D spreadsheets, disconnected project management siloes, and traditional collaboration software to function internally, like their CRM, HRM, accounting, administration, and project management operations.

With such systems, it is impossible to create simple, meaningful, on-demand, and real-time dashboards and MIS reports that can offer qualitative and quantitative information and insights, so that stakeholders can make precise decisions. Konnect bridges this divide by providing numerous operational, technical, business, and financial dashboards on-demand , anywhere as a cost-effective option  to all firm’s stakeholders.

Konnect -A dream SaaS-based tool for all A/E firm stakeholders

Many in the Indian A/E professional services space  are unaware of the benefits of using ERP software like Konnect. It takes time and effort to combine and analyze, dissect information to present to  managers, team leaders and other heads so they can make sound data-driven executive decisions on their projects.

The recent pandemic has made these decision-making tasks even more difficult with people working from home and in remote locations. Jagan feels the world has changed. “for in-house, outsourced, and hybrid work-from-anywhere models, we need complex time and cost tracking management tools.”

Konnect can manage drawings, documents, and other deliverables and track project design, a core revenue-earning function of A/E firms. It can also track and maintain associated costs incurred by people working on them from any location and track billing and collection schedules and milestones as long as they are connected to the Konnect system. It has provided numerous benefits, particularly during the pandemic, and many A/E firms in India have benefited from the research and knowledge embedded in the software since its last 25 years of use in large A/E firms.

Even after the pandemic has passed, hybrid working models persist and are here to stay. As a result, ERP software solutions like Konnect may become indispensable to most firms in the near future.

Revealing the ERP software’s specialty, Jagan says Konnect was created and coded as an in-house program to streamline Venkataramanan Associates-www.vagroup.com (VA’s) processes and operations. It was programmed with the help of engineers, architects, administrators, accountants, sales, marketing, and human resources professionals with over three decades of design and field experience.

Jagan Venkataramanan was earlier a senior partner of VA for over 21 years, revealing that although the pandemic is a relatively new crisis, Konnect has been there for quite some time. “We grew to around 175 people on the company’s payroll and over 500 people associated as projects’ outsourced partners,” reflects Jagan.

They must have managed over 120 projects at various stages of completion simultaneously. They used spreadsheets and a few canned software products to manage the firm’s day-to-day operations about 20 years ago. Big ERPs like SAP and Oracle were present, though they were unaffordable to firms like VA at that time.

Thriving with the Dynamic of Tech – Konnect

The big ERP players, such as SAP and Oracle, were available but out of reach for a growing A/E firm like VA. They were also not coded specifically to address issues encountered by A/E project-based businesses. “Jagan says he was involved in the firm’s operations at the time and was aware of all the problems we were experiencing,”, who adds, “And we came up with Konnect – a perfect solution which is ever-evolving with changing dynamics and exceeding demands.”

Konnect was re-developed through V+S Design Partners – Jagan’s relatively new venture – and its UI/UX was further enhanced. Many new project management features have been added. This SaaS-based offering is continuously being developed and holds advanced features close to the best in the world. Moreover, it is  a ‘Made in India’ world class  product .

“We then offered it cost-effectively to various architectural and engineering firms all over India. We believe it will improve their processes, operational efficiencies, profits, and financial stability.” Konnect will continuously enhance the product for project information management and operations management for AEC and other project-focused consulting firms because Jagan and V+S team are truly passionate about the future of the AEC industry.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) based features are being added. “BOTS will also be used on the platform to reduce repetitive human based workflows, reducing dependence on humans and their memories. These will be useful for tracking reminders and actions required by the new age Human + Machine based  workflows,” he says.

Based on a SaaS platform, Konnect AEC- www.konnectaec.com is now available for immediate implementation by AEC and project-based firms, allowing them to streamline their AEC business operations and become the most efficient, productive, productive, and profitable. “Konnect’s distinctiveness stems from the fact that it was created by architects and engineers for architects and engineers,” concludes Jagan.