On holiday last month, I read the excellent Bill Bryson book, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, about Bryson’s boyhood years growing up in Des Moines, Iowa. Today, thanks to a comment from American Reader on a recent EE post, I had a look at the website of US document management software vendor Data Builder, and – by pure coincidence – noticed that it too is based in Des Moines.
Any way, enough of the strained connections…. Founded in 2003 and launched two years later, Data Builder (its strapline: Your Document Contractor) has two ASP products, e-PCS and ECC, aimed mainly at the US construction and FM markets:
- ECC is a ‘snap-shot’ product intended to help project teams give all relevant information (as-built drawings, operation and maintenance manuals, certificates, etc) to a building’s owner/operator following completion of construction.
- e-PCS is a document management solution for use during design and construction of a project, allowing a team to "manage documents securely, enhance collaboration and workflow between individuals and workgroups, and maintain a powerful, searchable archive".
The website doesn’t give much further detail about either product (apart from a couple of downloadable PDFs) or projects or customers, so I Googled it a bit.
Scan from paper
According to a press release on the AIMM site, Data Builder’s "Scan to Electronic Project Control System (e-PCS)" software allows:
"capture and distribution of paper documents from multiple brands of network attached digital copiers and scanners. Construction and facilities management firms now can use e-PCF document management software to more easily manage paper-based information, an important aspect of improving business processes and reducing risk of claims against projects."
The release quotes Scott Lombard, Data Builder’s VP of Sales and Marketing:
"We have jobsites that are basically paperless. Once a paper document is received, it is immediately scanned and the electronic workflow begins in e-PCS. By nature, project teams in the construction industry are in multiple locations and equipment may vary per jobsite. Supporting multiple copier and scanner manufacturers allows us to expand data capture capabilities for our users while leveraging our clients’ existing equipment."
The foundation of the e-PCS software is Interwoven’s generic WorkSite Document Management solution (see release), upon which Data Builder has developed a solution for the AEC market, and which has been deployed by the Weitz Company (one of Data Builder’s backers, along with Emerging Growth Group), Walsh Group, Austin Commercial, Archer Western, and American Contractors Insurance Group. Data Builder also worked with Iowa State University to produce an analysis (“Economic Analysis of the Cost Impact of Implementing an Electronic Documentation System for Construction Projects”), showing "e-PCS can improve the efficiency of a general contractor’s building process by at least $4 to $5 million, delivering dramatic bottom-line savings in the context of the typical $100-million project".
Such savings are in line with those often quoted for the tangible benefits of construction collaboration (aka ‘project extranet’) software.
Apart from mentioning collaboration in passing, Data Builder doesn’t position itself as a collaboration vendor, preferring instead to offer integration between its services and those of more established vendors operating in the space. For example, the e-PCS system can be integrated with Meridian’s Prolog (in addition to email integration with Groupwise and Microsoft Outlook) – but there is no mention of any integration with Meridian’s ProTalk online project management system.