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Trends: ACD5 Transforms the way AIA Members Access and Edit AIA Contract Documents

About Deborah M. DeBernard, AIA, NCARB, AIBC-Architect, LEED BD+C: Ms. DeBernard is the Vice President and General Manager for Contract Documents at the American Institute of Architects. Her responsibilities include strategic growth, customer service and operations for AIA Contract Documents including legal content development, sales and marketing, software/platform development, and AIA Contract Document educational programs for AIA members and customers.

Prior to joining AIA, she was Senior Vice President and Director of Acquisitions at Dewberry where she directed acquisition activities for this 1800-person nationally focused engineering/architecture firm. Ms. DeBernard’s responsibilities included identifying firms that fit the firm’s strategic growth criteria, determining the reciprocal interest of those parties under consideration, developing letters of intent, leading the due diligence and integration teams, assisting with M&A negotiations, and leading the development of acquisition documents and final closing.

Before Dewberry, Ms. DeBernard was the Chief Officer for Strategic Innovation where she was responsible for identifying and leading activities considered critical to the long-term growth and overall success for both Leo A Daly, a 700 person architecture/engineering firm, and its sister firm, Lockwood Andrews, Newman (LAN), a 300-person infrastructural engineering firm. Ms. DeBernard also served as Chief Operations Officer for Leo A Daly where she was responsible for strategic planning, overseeing firm-wide project delivery, including quality processes, risk management, design and technical processes, financial management, rebuilding/ retraining of the Project Management corps, and day-to-day operational management of the firm’s twelve full-service architectural/engineering offices.

Ms. DeBernard served as a board member of the American Council of Engineering Companies - Metropolitan Washington (ACEC/MW), served as an advisor to the AIA Practice Management Knowledge Community (PMKC) and editor of the AIA PMKC Quarterly Digest.

Ms. DeBernard authored two articles for the AIA Architects Handbook of Professional Practice, 15th Edition, (Developing and Managing a Multi-Office Firm and Professional Development). She also served on the AIA Soloso™ Editorial Control Review Board as the subject matter expert for leadership, writing and editing articles, fact sheets and tips for publication on the AIA Soloso website covering all aspects of leadership including Greening of Your Firm, Learning By Design, The Economic Pressures of Conservation, Getting Started in the International Market, Negotiating Strategies, Preparing to Sell an Architectural Firm and Conflict Resolution.

Ms. DeBernard is a registered architect and holds a Master of Architecture and a B.A. in Environmental Planning.

Tell us about ACD5, the new online AIA Contract Documents service.

I’m delighted to announce the launch of ACD5. It is the new AIA Contract Documents online service. This means no matter where you are, if you have a computer (Mac or PC) and Internet availability, you’ll have convenient online access to the entire library of AIA documents as well as your project’s associated contracts and forms. So, there is no need to download software or manage DUs (Document Units) anymore. ACD5 also has many new features like a personal clause library, custom templates, easy contract collaboration, and administrative capabilities for multiple-user accounts.

How do you think ACD5 will help AIA Members?

We get a lot of feedback from AIA Members, especially small practitioners or Mac-users telling us that the AIA Contract Documents software product didn’t really work for them. For small practitioners, they didn’t like having to commit to buying certain amount of DUs (Document Units) before they had a project and the fact that the software wasn’t compatible with Macs. Also, the software had to be downloaded to a specific computer, making it difficult to edit a document from another computer, on the road, or from a job site. With ACD5, since it’s an online service, they will be able to access it from any computer anywhere they have an internet connection. Plus, we now offer a product called AIA Documents-on-Demand® Plus which gives customers access to each of the 180+ AIA contracts or forms, one at a time. Every document is fully editable so you’ll have the flexibility to change the document text to meet your project’s specific requirements. In many ways, it should be the perfect solution for small practitioners or those that are not sure how many projects they are going to work on within a year.

What about the security of the service?

ACD5 is very secure. We have robust 24/7 hosting and monitoring, data storage and backup, and advanced encryption technology. Documents are replicated in several locations to ensure disaster protection. Soon, to further protect external threats, we are adding 2-factor authentication, the same online protection used in online banking.

How do you think ACD5 will help with editing and finalizing design and building contract documents?

I look at the contract process as one of the most important steps in getting a building or home designed and built. With that being said, things are moving so fast these days, we need technology to keep up. ACD5 is that technology for the contract process. Now, multiple people in an organization can be editing, commenting and finalizing a document with it all captured and documented in ACD5. Your company might have standard language or clauses that need to be inserted in every contract. With ACD5, you can save that favorite clause and automatically include it in future documents. If you are on a job site and need to process a change order, with ACD5, you can quickly purchase, edit if necessary and finalize that change order on site avoiding delays. I expect to hear many great customer stories about how ACD5 helped them in the future.

How can people starting using ACD5?

ACD5 is available to purchase through our website, through our AIA Contract Documents Technical Support team. Also, we have on-going live and recorded webinars to learn more about ACD5. Plus, over 15 ACD5 online videos are available that demonstrate the key features of ACD5 and provide a great overview of the service. If you plan to attend the 2014 AIA Convention, our team will be there doing demos and providing education sessions at our booth, #531. Hope to see you there!


Member Spotlight

Deborah M. DeBernard, AIA, NCARB, AIBC-Architect, LEED BD+C

Vice President and General Manager for Contract Documents at the American Institute of Architects

ACD5™ is the new AIA Contract Documents online service. No matter where you are, if you have a computer and Internet availability, you’ll have convenient online access to the entire library of AIA documents as well as your project’s associated contracts and forms.

See how we built a better way to access AIA Contract Documents

Learn more about ACD5 by signing up for free informational webinars.


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