This is Part Four of my coverage from the 2015 AGC IT Conference Recap from Chicago. The conference showcased several amazing presentations and demonstrations of new and cutting edge technology for the construction industry. A few of the highlights from the second day for me were:

COSA Update

One of the more interesting sessions I attended was the update on COSA (Construction Open Standards Alliance) organization. The panel consisted of Dennis Stejskal (SAGE), John Goecke (Stratusvue), Benny Baltrosky (eSUB), and James Benham (JBKnowledge).

Mr. Stejskal started off the panel discussion by reminding the audience about a stat from the 2014 Construction Technology Report, the number of Applications used by a construction company. According to the survey 24.4 % of respondents use 3 or more apps and 40% use 4 or more. One reason he believes that contractors do not use more apps is due to lack of interoperability.

Interoperability is the ability of a system or a product to work with other systems or products without special effort on the part of the customer. One example that Mr. Stejskal gave was the aging fleet of 747 airplane’s offering the cigaret lighter adapter as the only available power source at the passenger seat. There are two opportunities for companies to improve interoperability, internal and external. Internal allows a company’s own systems speak to one another. External gives a company’s the opportunity for their partner’s systems speak to theirs. For example, submittals (huge amount of data) between a subcontractor, general contractor and architect.

Mr. Goecke was up next and asked the audience if they knew “What is Interoperability costing you?” The point he was trying to make was “How many times is your project data entered into multiple systems?” And more importantly “How does it impact your schedule?” Mr.Goeske informed the audience that nearly $15 Billion a year is wasted in the construction industry on double and triple data entry.

Mr. Baltrosky was up next to explain the main mission of COSA. He asked the audience “Why have standards for software?” One example of interoperability in construction that Mr. Baltrosky used was concerning how the term “Employee” gets coded in different platforms. For example, how one developer structures the coding of a term like “Employee” can vary greatly from how another developer does this. He asked the audience “How many times do you enter the same data into a platform?”

The next example he pointed out was the term “Project”. Think about how many ways the term project can be used to referenced in construction…Project, Project Number, Project Name, Project Manager, Project Owner, and Project Vendor. There is a big opportunity for software developers to code to the same set of standards. The goal is to connect all team members data in same format.

COSA members

COSA is an independent group of software vendors working together to concentrate and solve problems. The COSA organization is dedicated to making software easier to use for the construction industry. The goal for all members is to build software that allows the users to share data back and forth from different platforms. There are currently twenty members now such as SmartbidNet, eSub, Notevault, STACK, SAGE, Stratusvue, and TSheets.

What standards are available today? Any developer can download the following standards templates from the COSA website: Contractor Record, Planroom, TimeSheet, Consensus Docs 721 Form, and RFI’s. They have Beta templates now for Estimating and Daily Reports. It is simple for a company to get started, simply go to and download the available standards. You can also sign up for announcements of new standards. Mr. Baltrosky encouraged the audience talk to their software vendors about COSA and ask them why they are not member and to get on board!

James Benham finished up the panel discussion. He started off with an example on interoperability. A few customers told him that it took nearly 45 minutes to download plans from SmartbidNet to perform takeoffs. This was happening thousands of times per day. Mr. Benham worked with another platform to create a solution. SmartBidNet is now linked with STACK to read plan files directly from the SmartBidNet plan room to do take off. This connection prevents the master file from being duplicated. SmartBidNet Customers can now use STACK to see the project plans, complete an estimate take off, and save time. This saved multiple customers one hour per day, ten thousand times a day!

To learn more about COSA (CLICK HERE).

About the Author

Rob McKinney, the ConAppGuru, is a self taught Construction Technologist. He is on a mission to educate the construction industry about the uses for apps and mobile devices on construction projects. The ConAppGuru is always looking for new apps to field test.