Why did CIECA develop the BMS?

As e-commerce has become a bigger part of our daily lives, the data flow between trading partners has expanded wider and deeper into the repair process.  Data that was once exchanged between only the body shop and insurance company is now shared with a number of companies providing a wide range of services in the collision process.

Security & Privacy
One of the greatest concerns of the industry today relates to security and privacy of data.  Everyone understands that in order to do e-commerce, you must exchange data… but do we need to share all the data on every transaction?
  • Does the parts distributor need to know the vehicle owners name and address?
  • Does the salvage lot need to know what labor rate the shop charged the customer?
  • In the collision repair industry today, most data exchange between the shop and other trading partners is done via the EMS… an extract of the estimate produced by the major estimating system.  The EMS data is routinely shared with many players in the industry.   The problem is that the EMS lacks defined methods for exchanging subsets of the data in the EMS, so the entire EMS record is shared far and wide.

Many in the industry are concerned about this proliferation of information to trading partners who may not need it creating potential privacy concerns.

Keeping Up with Technology
In the 1980’s most of us had a home phone, a work phone and a home address.  Since then pagers have come and gone and people now have a many modes of contact including email, mobile phones, and text devices, not to mention Facebook, Linked-in, Twitter and whatever else the future holds. 

The EMS is based on old technology and is not designed to support current business needs.  For example, the EMS is very limited in its ability to transmit multiple types of addresses and contact information.  When the industry is rapidly adopting real-time repair status notifications, the EMS lacks the ability to transmit more than basic phone and address info.

To meet future needs, the industry needs a schema that is flexible and can adapt as new technology and new trends emerge.

Building for the Future
In 2003, the CIECA Board of Trustees recognized that e-commerce was rapidly expanding and that the EMS was not the tool for the future.  To meet the needs for safe and secure e-commerce, we need standards that enable us to exchange ‘the right data… to the right player’.  As a result, the CIECA Board authorized the creation of the BMS… the next generation in Collision Repair data exchange.

To fully understand the benefits of the BMS, it is important to understand that the BMS is not simply an upgraded version of the EMS.  Whereas the EMS is simply a schematic for exchanging estimate data, the BMS is a collection of schematics designed to support a wide range of business processes ensuring that only the data needed to support the process is part of the data exchange.
  • EMS:  The EMS is a ‘flat file’ that takes all data from an estimate and puts it into a standard format.  This data is often exchanged throughout the industry, even though much of the information in the EMS record has no bearing on the process at hand.
  • BMS:  The BMS is a collection of business process ‘messages’.   Each message supports a specific process in the collision repair process.  For example, when a vehicle is potentially a total loss, the insurance company can submit a request to an information provider for a total loss valuation.  The BMS Total Loss message includes all the data necessary to request a valuation on the vehicle without sending the entire estimate.
From EMS to BMS
The process of moving from the EMS to the BMS won’t happen with a single event.  It will require trading partners agreeing to adopt the BMS one process at a time.  For new projects it is simply a matter of starting the project using the BMS.   For existing processes, it will make sense to redesign the process using the BMS as business needs arise.

Start from the very beginning
As with any workflow, it’s best to start at the beginning.   Typically you want to begin by identifying the system that generates the first electronic record and then proceed downstream from there.

In the case of the Collision Repair process, the process generally begins in the body shop or insurance company with the creation of the estimate.  Today, most estimating platforms only generate the EMS, which makes implementing BMS solutions challenging, since the initial record is in the outdated EMS format.

Through CIECA, collision industry volunteers have developed workflows to correspond with each process in the repair cycle. Each of the BMS messages corresponds to one of those processes already documented.

Work with your information system providers
With security and privacy becoming ever more important, you need to ensure your business processes are compliant with your privacy policies and that your systems are ready for the future.  Ask your information systems provider these three questions:
  • Does your information provider support CIECA’s BMS standards?
  • If so, have they implemented the specific BMS message you are looking for? If not, when will they implement that BMS message?
  • Finally, are you allowed to use the BMS message with others?