Major software revision makes forms workable
In 2007, a coalition of organizations, initiated by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) but joined by a number of organizations representing other construction industry roles, challenged the dominance of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in the arena of standardized construction forms. While AIA has been by far the leader in this field, many other organizations have published standard forms, including engineering organizations (EJCDC) and the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA), as well as the AGC, but none of them achieved much traction in the marketplace.
The AGC abandoned its separate efforts when the coalition, under the name of ConsensusDOCS, introduced dozens of contract forms, advertised as an effort to arrive at a consensus set of documents that would be fair to all project participants. Initially, this effort did little to impact the AIA’s dominance in the field. Some of the new forms were criticized as merely warmed-over AGC forms, and the consensus claim was somewhat doubtful as endorsing organizations issued dozens of pages of caveats, but the show-stopper, from the standpoint of this writer and many others, was the truly awful software that was mandatory in order to access and edit the ConsensusDOCS forms.
Later the coalition revised many of the initial versions and introduced some specialized forms addressing important current industry issues such as integrated project delivery (IPD), building information management (BIM) and green building, which I found to be sophisticated and helpful. Except for the software!
Now, finally, as of April, 2012, the rebranded ConsensusDocs has a modern software platform. It is now an online application, which is great for accessing it from multiple working locations, and like the AIA software, it generates Word documents that can be edited with any reasonably current version of Microsoft Office. It even has some features lacking in the AIA software, such as the ability to compare two versions of a modified document (with AIA forms, this can only be done with third-party software like DeltaView/Workshare).
Will ConsensusDocs finally make inroads into the dominance of the AIA forms? Time will tell, but at least they now have a chance.