This week Meridian Systems, www.meridiansystems.com, Folsom, Calif., announced the latest release of its Prolog project-management software, Prolog version 9.5. Jon Fingland, Meridian’s head of its AEC business unit calls the release very exciting, as it provides in-depth visibility into project performance through things like cash-flow forecasting, workflow, and BIM (building information modeling) collaboration features.

At first glance the feature set of enhancements included in the release seem pretty standard. But a closer examination shows that such features play off some strategic moves that Meridian’s parent company Trimble, www.trimble.com, Sunnyvale, Calif., has made this year.

For example, back in January the company announced the acquisition of assets from Dimension 5 Solutions, which provides productivity and collaboration software that can be used across multiple phases of the construction process. The new solutions added value to Prolog customers by providing expanded platform support for mobile devices, as well as better productivity and data-capture capabilities. The technology leveraged the Windows platform, but Meridian was also able to take such technology and adapt it for use on the iPad.

This technology has played nicely with the development of the BIM collaboration features built into Prolog version 9.5. BIM in the field has been gaining much traction in the market as of late, and as Fingland describes, new functionality allows a user to capture items (like a construction defect) in the field from a mobile device and then leverage all of the functionality contained within the Prolog set of tools to drive that matter to completion and resolution. It all starts with the point of data capture from the field, enabled by the Dimension 5 technology.

While Fingland acknowledges all different types of mobile operating systems are in use by customers, he points to RFID and GPS technologies (a strong suit for Trimble) playing nicely on Windows-based mobile devices. It is definitely a trend to watch going forward.

On another front, the cash-flow forecasting capabilities will work well with the tools that could be acquired due to another pending acquisition from Trimble; the definitive agreement to acquire WinEstimator, www.winest.com, Kent, Wash., which is expected to close during the third quarter. WinEst’s Modelogix product provides complete cost modeling and data archiving, while the WinEst product provides strong bottom-up estimating. Now, coupled with the enhancements built into Prolog version 9.5, users would have a complete set of tools to bring them from conceptual estimate through development and completion, managing the data more effectively throughout the lifecycle.

One of the strengths of the Modelogix product is the ability to allow estimators to benchmark and use historical information for future projects. This would become a nice addition to the Prolog set of tools for cost management and forecasting.

In all, Trimble has been making some very strategic acquisitions in recent times that could ultimately help it build a complete field-to-office set of technology tools for the construction industry. Independently, the acquisitions may look like one-offs, but put together under the grander scheme of things, there seems to be a definite big-picture approach happening.