By Steve Rizer
“Tens of thousands” of professionals within the construction community ultimately may be able to benefit from a recently formalized agreement between Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and Burger Consulting Group Inc. to move the industry toward interoperability, AGC Chief Information Officer C. Fara Francis told ConstructionPro Week. The association engaged Burger to work with contractors and construction software vendors to facilitate easy data exchange and integrated systems using agcXML schema -- an endeavor that AGC believes will yield “significant cost savings for software developers, ease of communication between contractors and their systems, and accurate data storage.”
Francis predicted that “any contractor that uses [an IT] system in construction may benefit. Sometimes the benefit will accrue more immediately to the developers as the cost of maintaining multiple interfaces goes down. Eventually, though, the benefit is also [for contractors] as they are more able to use best-in-class solutions, which can integrate more easily with [a] base ERP [enterprise resource planning] system or other software solutions within and outside of the company.”
Several years ago, as the issue of integration between systems approached an early peak, AGC led and sponsored an initiative to develop an XML schema – “agcXML” -- for several common construction record types. This effort resulted in 10 XML schemas, including ones addressing applications for payment, bonds, change directives, change orders, owner and contractor agreements, requests for information, requests for proposal, schedule of values, submittals, and supplemental instructions.
Francis reported that “AGC is developing 10-20 new schemas in addition to updating its previous 10 schemas. These schemas will allow the construction industry to have interoperability between their software systems both inside of a single company and between different companies.”
The ultimate goal is broader adoption of the schemas by software developers serving the construction industry and greater interoperability between contractors and suppliers. Toward this end, AGC is inviting interested professionals either to search for the “agcXML in construction” group on LinkedIn and then request to join or to email Francis at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.