Saturday, 10 December 2016

'BIG 5' Benchmark Stats

If your firm increases productivity by 1% per person annually, you gain 2 extra working days per team member.

How do you measure your firm's productivity against your peers and the wider AEC industry?

KnowledgeSmart has been capturing test scores across a wide range of technical software products, used by Architects & Engineers around the world.

We have data-mined thousands of results for the 'BIG 5' Autodesk software titles, as follows:

Revit Architecture
Revit MEP
Revit Structure
AutoCAD Civil 3D

The results form a fascinating insight into the way these tools are deployed and utilised in different territories around the world. This is the most detailed study of software proficiency ever carried out with live test data, across thousands of users and hundreds of AEC businesses.

A detailed PDF report can be downloaded for each topic from this microsite.

Now, for the first time, management teams can compare their in-house performance and technical software capability against the wider Global industry benchmark.

This data can be included in the hiring process, new team selection, annual appraisals and when bidding for new project work.


Tuesday, 27 September 2016

KS API calls

A popular theme for our customers this year is to have closer integration between the KS system and other in-house IT systems. In particular, LMS, HR and E-Learning systems.

So, with this in mind, we have been working on creating a series of automated processes and API calls, which can simplify and speed up the exchange of key data across platforms.

Here is a brief summary of what we have created so far:

List assessments for logged in account:

Invite user to an assessment (replace the query string elements as required):

List users for account:

Search users by name (change the name value to a name you want to search):

Search users by id (change the userid value to an id you know):

List results for account:

List results for a user (change the userid value to an id you know):

Show all results for a particular test id:
It will return the results for a given test id for the logged in account.

Add a new user:

Simply substitute the email/firstname/lastname to the user you would like to add. If a user already exists with that email address then that user is added to the account.

Get answers for a result:

Pass in the resultid you would like to see the answers for. N.B. you would probably use the existing methods GetAllResults or GetResultsForUser first to get the list of results and their resultids which you could then pass in.

If you would like to schedule a call with our technical team, to discuss your own organisation's requirements for closer integration with KS user and results data, please do get in touch.


KS exhibiting at Autodesk University

A key theme for us this year is that of measuring technical software skills and performance, against a wider body of results data. We are featuring our analysis of the 'BIG 5' Autodesk skills assessments at this year's Autodesk University conference, which takes place from 15-17 November, in Las Vegas, USA.  Here is the conference link:

The BIG 5 tests are:
Revit Architecture, Revit Structure, Revit MEP, AutoCAD and AutoCAD Civil 3D.

KnowledgeSmart will be exhibiting in the main hall, at booth number 2810.

We look forward to seeing you there!


Friday, 5 August 2016

KS Dev Update - Exam Mode

The impact of BIM on the global AEC industry has created a need for firms to be able to demonstrate evidence of their actual ability (and capability) to perform and deliver on client projects. This includes individual and team technical skills, as well as business process and standards methodology.

Skills assessments are a key part of the mix and KnowledgeSmart has been working in this space for over 10 years, enabling firms to capture real evidence and benchmark data to include in training plans, hiring programmes and project bid documentation.

More recently, however, we have seen a significant rise in demand for a more formal output at the end of a test session, than the current gap analysis report which highlights where individual improvements can be made to help improve productivity.

So, we have created a new work flow, called 'Exam Mode', which enables AEC firms, educators and industry member organisations to deploy a more formal certification exam type experience, with a final result output along the lines of traditional exam models.

To clarify; this is not designed to replace formal large software vendor exams, for example commercially available Autodesk, Adobe, Cisco or Microsoft qualifications.

But we are well placed to offer firms and member organisations the opportunity to create custom exams, with their own result bandings and levels of achievement, enabling them to demonstrate capability (and excellence) across their teams.

Here is a preview of the new functionality:

The main KS login page will have a new button, called 'Exam':

This tool can be used by KS admins and sub admins, to log in to a new exam session.

Users enter their details at the candidate info screen.

When the candidate is ready to begin, they click 'Start' to open their exam session. All sessions are timed.

There are 9 different types of questions to choose from and the candidate works through the questions which display on the Exam UI.

When all the questions have been answered, the candidate clicks 'Finish' and their final grade displays.

From an authoring perspective, KS exams are broadly similar to the existing KS assessments, with a few key differences.

You can now select 'Exam mode' when editing or creating a KS assessment. The default result bandings are: Fail (0-40%), Pass (41-60%), Merit (61-80%) and Distinction (81-100%).

Result bandings can be edited, if you wish to select a different score range and/or different labels for the various exam outcomes. An error will display, if the banding values are not concurrent, or if they exceed 100%. Click 'Finish' to save your changes.

When exam mode is enabled, the user data capture pages at the start and end of a session are disabled. The 'Request training' button is also disabled on the exam UI.

You will notice some new choices on the Settings > Branding page.

It is possible to add a corporate/organisation logo to the top of the exam UI and at the top of the exam certificate. (On a related note, we have also included in this release the ability to add branding to user pages and user test certificates).

As with KS test reports, administrators can control when candidates are presented with their exam certificate, via the Settings > Feedback page.  If 'No exam certificate' is selected, users will see a message at the end, as per the current 'No Report' option.

If a result is emailed to a candidate, it will send a plain text email, with a link to their exam certificate.

KS admins can easily distinguish KS exam results from test results on the Results > Data page, by looking for the orange 'Rosette' icon, next to the score.

KS admins will still be able to see a link to the old style test report, which shows the question mix and answer feedback, but this view will not available to users. Clicking on the Rosette will display the exam certificate.

There is a new search filter on the Library > Draft Content > Draft Tests page, which allows admins to search for assessments and exams.

Users will see a new section on their personal dashboard page, called 'My Exams'.

This displays a new area, with a history of exam results and links to exam certificates.

The new functionality is scheduled to go live in the autumn. In addition to traditional skills testing and survey capability, the new KS exam mode offers customers, educators and industry member organisations a stable, customizable, web based platform, capable of capturing and presenting a wide range of formal exam and certification-style results.


Saturday, 11 June 2016

KS Dev Update - New Survey Tool

Over the past 6-12 months, the number one most requested new feature from KS customers has been to include the ability to create surveys, as well as assessments, direct from the KS admin dashboard.

So, we have been working on creating a 'survey mode' area, which enables KS admins to deploy a standalone survey, or a hybrid combined test/survey, with a mix of standard test questions and questions which do not require a 'right or wrong' answer.

Here's a walk through of the new tools:

Log in to the KS admin dashboard, in the same way as usual, but note the addition of a new 'Survey' button on the main login page:

When you log in to the admin dashboard, you'll see a new feature top right of the page. Hover over the 'Current mode' text and you'll see this popup menu:

Click the 'Switch Mode' button and you'll be taken to a new area of the admin dashboard, which hosts the editing, inviting and reporting tools for the new survey tools.

The Library > Draft Content area has a similar look & feel to the current draft tests menu layout.

There are Draft Questions:

Draft Modules:

And Draft Surveys:

Creating a survey follows the same logic and authoring process as the existing KS Assessments.


There are 4 types of question to choose from. You have a 3,000 character limit on question text:

Free Comment

This is a free text question, where the user can enter any text to an open-ended question.

There are no additional settings or inputs required, after the main question text has been entered.

The usual meta tags can be added at step 3, to help content management later on.

Yes or No

This is a straightforward yes or no question, where the user can enter a direct response to a closed question.

There are no additional settings or inputs required, after the main question text has been entered.

Multiple Choice (Select one)

This is a multiple choice question, where the user can enter one valid answer option.

Enter your answer options at edit step 2, after the main question text has been entered.

Multiple Choice (Select many)

This is a multiple choice question, where the user can enter one or more valid answer options.

Enter your answer options at edit step 2, after the main question text has been entered.


Once created, you can group questions of a similar theme into a survey module.

Select questions from your library and use the green '+' tool to add them to your module.

The usual meta tags can be added at step 3, to help content management later on.

In the survey UI, questions from each module will display on separate pages. i.e. if you have 3 modules assigned to a survey, then it will be a 3-page survey.


Once created, you can assign one or more modules to your new survey.

Select modules from your library and use the green '+' tool to add them to your survey.

Add an introduction or welcome message and survey instructions at edit step 3, 'Survey settings'.

The usual meta tags can be added at step 3, to help content management later on.

When you have created your survey, you can capture a unique URL or a unique survey code, which can be used for inviting users to complete your survey later on.

Inviting users to take a survey

You have 3 options for inviting your users to complete a KS survey.

The first option is when you want to capture a list of users who have participated in your survey. Options 2 and 3 are for anonymous surveys, where you do not need to capture a specific record of users who have completed your survey.

Invite Users Page

Similar to the KS assessments invite process, go to the Invites > Invite Users page of your dashboard and add your users at the top of the page.

You can see a history of survey invites and statuses on the Invites > History page of your dashboard.

Unique URL

Capture the unique URL for your survey (from the section at the bottom of the survey summary page) and email your team with instructions about your survey and include the link to the survey in the body text of your mail.

Unique Survey Code

Capture the unique survey code for your survey (from the section at the bottom of the survey summary page) and email your team with this link:

They just need to enter the survey code to begin the survey.

Survey UI

The KS survey user interface (UI) is mobile responsive and works equally well on desktop, tablet or mobile screens.

To begin, go to the survey start page, read the instructions and hit the Continue button.

Answer the questions on the screen, by selecting the relevant answer boxes, or by typing answers to free text questions.

At the end of the survey, a simple answer summary page displays.

Click 'Finish survey' to exit the survey.

Hybrid Assessment & Survey

KS admins have the option to create a hybrid test & survey, by appending a survey at the end of a standard KS test.

Go to test edit step 4, 'Test settings' and look for the survey dropdown at the bottom of the screen. Select the survey to be added and click 'Finish' to save your changes.

Now, when a user completes their assessment, they will see a transition page, which takes them to their survey. When the survey has been completed, their test report will then display, as usual.

Survey Results

To review survey responses and charts, go to the Results > Data page. You will see a list of completed surveys in the 'Survey Results' area.

Click on a survey name to view a detailed summary of responses and charts for that particular survey.

Click the 'Export to csv' tool, to create an export of your survey responses, for additional analysis.