Data integrations are a powerful way to connect source data from Reporting Bodies to Manufacturer material and product records. Integrations support Connected Data an enable product and certification data remain current and accurate for project teams and specifiers. Origin integrates with several Data Partners - our work has validated several best practices for optimal data exchange within the construction industry.
Manufacturers pursue certifications, declarations and test reports from finite budgets. Each program that manufacturers pursue is a deliberate choice based on market requirements and the perceived ROI of complying with each program. Reporting Bodies can increase exposure and ROI for their programs by providing manufacturing clients with optimized data exchange options. The following best practice guidelines support both flexible and optimal data exchange allowing manufacturers to more easily manage and share their data throughout the construction industry. The following guidelines also make it easier for project teams and specifiers to search for and use certification data within their daily workflows.
Provide a Unique Document ID
Each shared certification should include a Unique Document ID. There are two key benefits to following this best practice guideline.
First, Unique Document IDs help manufacturers find their content when using connected software applications. This simplifies the effort required to accurately find relevant certification documents and connect them to corresponding material records.
Second, Unique Document IDs make program documents more searchable for project teams and specifiers while also simplifying documentation efforts for submittals. Unique Document IDs also make it possible for connected software providers to more accurately validate the authenticity of each program document.
Unique Document IDs can be displayed publicly (recommended to benefit project teams and specifiers) or privately. Note that Unique Document IDs differ from Unique Product IDs which can be used to identify unique individual products and/or product SKUs. Unique Product IDs would make it easier to match program documents to corresponding materials, and would require that manufacturers match their certifications to the appropriate material/s only once. However, Unique Document IDs and Unique Product IDs are separate, complementary concepts.
Maintain the same Unique Document ID at Renewal
When manufacturers renew their certifications, the Unique Document ID should NOT change. Changing the Document ID will break any links to materials that the manufacturer has created within other software applications. Broken links require that manufacturers spend additional time re-managing their data, defeating a fundamental purpose of Connected Data.
If the Unique Document ID must change at renewal, data exchange services should provide a mapping logic to allow new IDs to be matched with old IDs. This approach will help connected data partners, though it can lead to disconnects whenever a software application does not use the mapping logic. For example, it’s unlikely that manufacturers will embed this logic within their own website (manufacturer websites are usually not created to serve as a software application) and manual updates will still be required.
Provide a Last Modified Date
Each certification record should include a Last Modified Date to enable data exchange partners to identify and use only records that have changed. Without a Last Modified Date, data exchange partners must consider ALL certification records. Pulling all records creates unnecessary stress on servers that may limit the frequency that data can be exchanged. As a best practice baseline, Last Modified Dates should be available within each certification record and at the API search level. The Last Modified Date should be changed whenever any data point within a record is modified, including a change in reference documentation and/or URL Structure.
Provide services that identify modified records
For advanced teams, services that identify modified or newly created records can be provided in addition to a Last Modified Date. When available, these services allow data exchange partners to identify and use only the portion of records that have changed or have been newly created. This reduces server stress and facilitates real-time data exchange.
Provide Great Documentation
Data Partners will rely on your documentation to understand each data field that is shared. Clear documentation helps Data Partners to properly capture, store and display your information. For example, many certification programs include several dates within a single report. Understanding which dates are important and how each should be displayed and searched greatly increases the utility of data.
Great Documentation also includes business rules which define how Data Partners can create, edit and/or delete a given data attribute or record. Notifying Data Exchange partners prior to making changes to API Services is also helpful to avoid data gaps. Ideally, notifications should be made 2 months advance notice of changes being implemented. Ideally backwards compatibility is supported for a 2-3 month period following any changes made to API Services.
To learn more about becoming an Origin Data Exchange Partner, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org