Is Navisworks suitable for issue management?

Is Navisworks suitable for issue management?

Validation and clash detection is becoming more and more integrated in BIM construction project worldwide. Several applications are available that can detect and document these conflicts. Navisworks is one of those validation tools and is used to manage and share model clashes. It provides two separate methods to perform these tasks. In this blog we will explain them and help you decide which one is best for you.

Clearly, when you are dealing with a large amount of clashes, you prefer a form of management does the job well and requires spending as little time as possible. Navisworks actually provides two separate methods to perform these tasks. In this article we will help you decide which one is best for you.

Method 1: Using the Clash detective

The most obvious way to manage and share your clash results is of course via the clash detective itself. This method starts with the traditional Navisworks workflow:

1The various models are appended to the project
2One or more clash tests can be defined and performed.
3Each individual clash result can be assigned to a team member and provided with comments
4Share the project as a .NWD file with the team
5The engineers can find their issues, review and/or solve them
6Via the ‘switchback’ function the engineer will go directly to the right location within the Revit model and fix them.
7Step 2 – 6 must be repeated until all (relevant) clashes are solved

During this process the issues can be sorted into groups to organize the clashes. Although this can be a tedious task, there are plug-ins available which do a good job in automating this.

What are the disadvantages of using the Clash Detective

When using Navisworks as a central repository for sharing and managing issues, you do not take advantage of the features provided by modern ‘cloud based’ services as it is a file based methodology. This can result in the following disadvantages.

Limited data access

The biggest requirement of any issue management workflow is that the team members involved must always have access to the latest issue data. And right away this highlights the biggest disadvantage of the clash detective. Every engineer must have a full version of Navisworks Manage as the clash-detective is only available in this edition.

Limited issue management

The tools offered to manage the clashes are limited. Although issues can be assigned and commented on, they cannot be sorted or categorized by giving them a priority, a milestone or any other meta data which can be useful when managing a large numbers of issues.

Not a shared resource

The communication in this Navisworks workflow is not bi-directional. Navisworks project files are generally not a shared resource and data is shared via NWD files. Any comments placed in these can be saved and forwarded again and again, and again resulting on a continuous exchange of files with a lot of duplicate or out-of-date information.

No single source of truth

When using Navisworks there is basically no feedback system. The workflow relies on clashes being reported, addressed and verified as resolved. There is no mechanism to discuss or coordinate with others. This feedback is however essential as more and more stakeholders are relied on to contribute their expertise to resolve conflicts in the best way possible. The result is that this must be done either outside of the issue management system or one must wait until the clashes are discussed in a periodic BIM meeting which is often an unnecessary delay.

No audit trail

Being able to audit any issue and see who did what when is a requirement in many organizations as it can save you from discussions and litigation. Knowing who created an issue, approved its resolution and closed it is often not possible the using the clash-detective.

Method 2: Using Saved viewpoints

The second method is to share your test results as a saved viewpoint report. Although not as flexible as working directly from the clash detective it has the advantage of working with those who do not have the full Navisworks Manage application. This results in the following workflow:

1The various models are appended to the project
2One or more clash tests can be defined and performed.
3Create a viewport report and share this report with the team (by mail, network folder et cetera)
4The engineers can find their issues, review them
5The engineer must go manually to the right location within the model and fix them
6Step 2 – 5 must be repeated until all (relevant) clashes are solved

The disadvantages of using saved viewpoints

Just like method 1 it uses a file based methodology for sharing clashes. Therefore Shared Viewpoints has the same disadvantages as method 1. And there is an additional drawback as well. Namely, shared viewpoints cannot be assigned to a team member so finding out which clashes you need to resolve will require a lot of searching or a lot of prep-work. For instance you can ensure that they are sorted into folders per team member.

The advantages of using saved viewpoints

However this method has two big advantages over the clash detective. Manually created issues during a visual inspection can be stored as a saved viewpoint.
Also they can be viewed in all editions of Navisworks including the free Freedom edition. Do note however that Navisworks Freedom does not support the switchback function.


Navisworks is a viable option for clash detection and management. But no matter which method you choose, both do not really support an openBIM workflow. Accessing the clash data will always require Navisworks to be present on the system. And the switchback function will only work with Revit. Team members using other modeling tools will have to rely on a side by side comparison. Moreover, as the creation of issues is not limited to a single party, chances are that more than one validation processes are running.

This inability to work with and manage issues across multiple stakeholders and different types of software therefore, would likely be only possible with the help of outside services or solutions. The most successful option would likely be a dedicated BIM issue tracking solution that is:

  • Based on open standards like BCF and IFC to make sure every team member can access model and issue data.
  • Not using files based method for file sharing to avoid in ineffective workflow.
  • Cloud based to provide access anytime anywhere.