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As an industry, we need to start viewing information as an important asset in its own right, on par with the physical built facility. And all this starts with the asset owners, the clients. Clients procure buildings, bridges, and roads, but they also procure the information that relates to them which is just as important. If that information is received in a way that is useful and there are processes in place to manage it, it can provide great value to organisations. This is what helps built assets stay safe and allow sound business decisions to be made.

But to do this, information management needs to be given more attention and resources within organisations than it currently does. It should be defined before any projects and other appointments take place by managing the information exchanges that happen within organisations, this helps to determine why built asset information is needed. Clients are the most important actors in information management as they provide the inputs and set up the framework.

 

What is information management?

Information management provides a framework to support the specification, delivery and governance of all information (unstructured and structured) across a built asset’s life.

Information management is about the specification, delivery, and governance of just the right amount of information concerning the design, construction, operation, maintenance and decommissioning of buildings and infrastructure and that’s across all information (whether that’s structured in databases or unstructured in drawings and documents). This ultimately allows us to track and receive trusted information that is useful.

Building information modelling (BIM) is concerned with the management of structured information within the wider information management framework. Its key aim is to make as much of our information as structured as possible utilising information models to connect it all up. Only when it is structured, can we find, share, assure and query information through automation and at a bigger scale to ultimately gain insight.

Diagram showing the layers of information management across the asset lifecycle

The layers of information management across an asset’s lifecycle

 

To describe information management visually, across an asset’s life, there is both an activity-based management layer, which people interact with, and an information layer which technology mainly interacts with. It’s both these layers that make up information management.

In reality, we are sadly still working in a tangled and highly chaotic web of stuff. Incorrect, incomplete, and lost information introduces so much risk to projects and organisations, yet for an industry obsessed with risk, it’s barely ever thought about. As we create more data, develop new standards, processes, and technology, and form new initiatives, this beast is growing and getting more tangled by the day.

Over the years in the built and natural environment, there has been an increase in the need for information, from best practices, standards, policies, and regulations — a great example is what is now required for the Building Safety Act. This has resulted in more and more information (and data) being produced.

Technology allows us to produce vast amounts of information quite easily and readily, but the main problem lies in its quality, which is compromised by a lack of trust and constant overlapping, contradicting, and duplication. And while technology has evolved substantially, our maturity concerning information has not, so we are guided by technology and not by the information itself and the science behind it.

If we think of the industry as a tree — the top part being the information and data which is growing rapidly, chaotically and getting bigger by the day — in comparison to the small roots which represent what we have in terms of the understanding and implementation of information science principles. A tree with weak roots will not only impair the growth above but it will also become unstable.

The worry is, it will become too chaotic that we can’t unpick it. There’s a growing focus on technological solutions that incorporate artificial intelligence (AI). But while it’s important to see where AI fits into the overall information management puzzle, it will not automatically solve the industry’s greatest challenges. We’ve seen time and time again that when uncontrolled and unsupervised, applying technology on its own, doesn’t work. The danger is that AI could move us even further away from understanding our information raising the same questions about quality and trust.

We need to do the groundwork to make the roots bigger and to set out the basic principles and how it all joins up, to work towards a universal bigger picture. But there are barriers in the way.

 

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Barriers to better information management

Information barriers can disrupt information flows within an organisation, leading to inefficiencies and information waste. These challenges are often rooted in organisational structures, people-oriented factors, and technology-related issues.

Organisational challenges primarily stem from departmental silos or hierarchical structures that impair communication and collaboration. For example, the separation of capital projects and operations can silo the management of capital projects and the ongoing operational activities of an organisation making it difficult to have one set of agreed information requirements.

One of the greatest barriers comes down to procurement models and insurance that dictate adversarial behaviours this impacts significantly on the type of information that is produced and how it flows between parties.

Addressing people-oriented factors involves addressing the basics of information and data literacy but also attracting people with advanced information and data science skills and knowledge. It’s also about understanding the need for ongoing change management to help people understand the ‘why’ using different forms of communication.

In terms of technology, ever since CAD software was introduced, its language, structure, and rules have been crucial in defining information for the asset, which is often poorly considered. With the advancement of BIM, this technology first approach has only gotten worse. Software applications are tools that process information they should never be used to define it. The structure and language of information should be defined outside of software considering the bigger information management picture and be neutral and open.

Therefore, information should be defined independently of software applications. Technology is important, of course. However, it needs to serve the information not the other way round.

 

The management layer of information management

Diagram showing the management layer across an asset’s lifecycle

The management layer across an asset’s lifecycle

 

The management layer consists of cycles of activities required to manage information, these are similar to the activities that the Government and Industry Interoperability Group (GIIG) is based upon. It is important to understand that the activities are appointment based not work-stage-based, therefore each appointment has its own information timeline. Therefore, after the need and requirements have been established within an organisation for each appointment the information receiver (for example, a client) specifies what information is needed and uses this to select the right suppliers to deliver the information (this goes into contracts). Next, the suppliers plan the delivery and deliver the information where it is assured against the original requirements and hosted within a store. The information is then presented or visualised for reporting purposes and used or exploited to manage projects (and other trigger events), assets or an entire organisation.

These activities represent what ISO 19650 is all about and why ISO 19650 is the standard to govern the management layer. Going through each activity would create a very long paper therefore the below concentrates on the specification and plan activities.

 

ISO 19650 and focusing on the specification and plan activities

In ISO 19650 more responsibility is put onto the client to set up the information management ecosystem before any projects are started. This starts with clients defining their information requirements. However, in the past we have seen that some clients will ask for everything in the standards, others will ask the delivery team to tell them what they want, or others will just ask for BIM. Therefore, more focus has been put on the purposes of information, whether that’s to perform a task, answer a question, or make a decision, to effectively manage events such as projects or maintenance activities, but also the assets or even an organisation. This is what determines the content of information requirements.

Information requirements are made up of both unstructured and structured information generated as the result of defining purposes. Structured information is object-based so we need to specify the information against the objects. From here we can use the level of information-need framework which helps to break information down both: alphanumerically and geometrically and enables objects to be related to documentation. Metadata also needs defining and for unstructured information, the content can be specified. This all needs to be considered in the context of when is it required and which appointment will deliver it, ultimately creating a filtered set called ‘exchange information requirements’. The Information Delivery Specification (IDS) which you might have heard of (developed by buildingSMART International) provides a machine-interpretable language to ensure the delivered information meets these requirements.

When specifying information requirements the three below guidelines should be considered:

A screenshot of a database of information requirements

This is what information requirements look like in real life: a database of information requirements based on the level of information need associated with purposes.

 

When we think of information requirements we always think of the appointing party or the client, but actually everyone has information requirements. ISO 19650 doesn’t currently cover everyone, but it does cover the lead appointed party’s information requirements. This isn’t well understood. So, if you’re directly appointed to the client for example a designer, employer’s agent, cost consultant or main contractor you take the client’s information requirements and incorporate them within your own, to assess the capability and capacity of any suppliers you have.

After the appointment of the client’s supplier, the combined information requirements are then detailed further to make them practically deliverable. The first step is listing the actual deliverables. This is done by taking the information requirements and using them as the base data set to create the master information delivery plan. In other words, it’s a programme for delivering information. At this point, the object breakdown is more granular for work packages and the aspect of time is more complex as it links to actual tasks.

 

The information layer of information management

 

Diagram showing the information layer across an asset’s lifecycle

The information layer across an asset’s lifecycle

 

Across all the activities in the management layer, the information needs to be named, ordered, and connected in the same consistent way. This is the job of the information layer.

The information layer is concerned with the organisation and constraints of information to enable information to be connected and shared, this layer can also be thought of as data.

Within this layer, there are many standards, and it is important to understand why standardisation is required.

Returning to the point about the technology first approach, over the years, since the introduction of CAD software, we’ve observed that the proprietary language, structure, and rules of software have played a significant role in defining information for assets, rather than considering the needs of the organisation. While this approach works within the specific software environment, it becomes problematic when you try to use it elsewhere. Information created for one software environment often struggles to exist outside of it or can’t be easily shared because it’s in a different language that’s incompatible with other systems. This can create a point-to-point scenario where data must be transformed and translated as it is passed on between applications. As the number of applications we use grows, we will have hundreds of potential permutations.

But that’s only the start, if we drill down further… as asset owners adopt more data-based ways of working we have the scenario where each user will have their own bespoke data structure (even though they will be very similar) and this creates a limitless number of permutations and is an interoperability time bomb waiting to explode!

There needs to be a longer-term sustainable solution to this exchange problem.

Currently, even at one simple exchange, we can have problems getting the right data out of one system to then into another. As an industry, we have huge problems with interoperability and as a result, we struggle to get our systems to work together, this isn’t just in the design stages but throughout a facility’s life.

So, what is the answer?

  1. We put information first so it’s the software which serves the information, not the other way around.
  2. We open up information so we are not limiting which software applications can plug in.
  3. We use a standard approach, so the data doesn’t require so much transforming.

So rather than this point-to-point scenario we get a baseline information layer which spans an asset’s life containing all the standardised structures, rules, and language to enable information to be shared.

If we have standardisation, this enables the receiving platform to know where to look for the data it needs and what the relationships are, so it too can make sense of it. This allows us to automate tasks, such as checking, analysing large data sets, and carrying out predictions.

Several standards occupy this layer. However, to give us any chance of joining this up we need to use an object-based approach because it’s the objects that connect everything, an approach that utilises schemas and data models. One such data model and schema that provides the foundational object framework to represent the built environment is Industry Foundation Classes (IFC).

 

What is the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) format?

Industry Foundation Classes or IFC, provides the object structure and connections in the information layer. This is managed by buildingSMART International a non-profit organisation. In basic terms, it sets out how objects or ‘things’ are ordered and how they relate to each other. Humans see buildings and infrastructure as physical things; we know that windows are in walls and columns connect to beams. A computer however needs to be able to understand the same things via a computer language and that’s what IFC is, it’s a digital representation of a facility.

At its core is an object-based data model which provides the rules to give everything a unique place and to connect it all up. It contains three important parts: entities, attributes, and relationships. These entities can cover anything including a door, a system, a whole facility, a task, and some even represent geometry. And there are some entities which allow us to connect to the outside world. We can link documentation to objects (therefore very importantly connecting structured and unstructured information), link to external databases which will contain their own data models and dictionaries for product manufacturers’ data and add classifications to give it a local language.

Looking at classification further, IFC for its objects uses a neutral language because it has to span all sectors, and all purposes and, because it’s international, all countries. It’s also for computers, therefore the language is very logical — language that most of us in the built environment don’t use. For example, ‘IfcLightFixture.PointSource’ is a light which emits from a point, but you wouldn’t go down to your local B&Q store and ask where the point source lights are. So, we need to be able to attach a language to these IFC objects to customise them to the needs of a sector, purpose, or country. This is where classification comes in. Uniclass provides the UK-based language, it tags an IFC object bridging the gap between humans and the IFC data model. But IFC is not the same as a classification system, IFC allows for an effective data exchange.

IFC is a framework of connections or a model of data and it’s the connections or the relationships which make it so powerful. It connects objects such as the pump to other objects and those objects contain their own metadata. This enables the pump to be associated to a space and a building and a site just from tracking through the relationships. This relationship is not required to be stored as a string in thew pump name.

We need to start thinking of relationships as being just as important if not more so as the entities or objects. In the image below, it’s the arrows that are the most important part of the model.

 

Simplified diagram of IFC connecting information

 

Simplified example of IFC connecting information

 

If we’re doing it right, IFC should be hidden in the background minding its own business and doing its job connecting data throughout an asset’s life. Most people should only see how the data is visualised or presented as information.

This can be in the form of dashboards, tables, data sheets, 3D models even construction drawings and text documents. The important part is to structure the data in accordance with the IFC schema and it can be used and displayed in so many ways.

It’s also important to understand the IFC data model doesn’t have to contain any geometrical data, the objects can just be connected to properties and visualised as a table if needed.

To transport the data, we need exchange formats. Because we are still file-based, the main format we exchange is the STEP physical format which is text-based and because it confusingly has the .ifc file extension, this has caused a big misunderstanding with many thinking IFC is just a file format and not an entire data model and schema. XML is also commonly used while another three are in development for linked data. When you think of IFC, it’s important to think of it as a data model, not a file format.

 

Bringing the management and information layers of information management together

It’s really important to understand is for effective information management both layers have to be considered together. When we do this, it becomes clear that all the activities in the management layer are to enable the planning, creation, updating and maintenance of connected information across the life of an asset, using standardised schemas and data models like IFC. This isn’t just about design and construction but the entirety of the information management cycle.

This connected information is described in ISO 19650 as an ‘information model’. But this is where we always go wrong and where we need to start to change people’s perceptions. Because at the moment what we deliver isn’t connected, it’s a dump of separate drawings, documents, spreadsheets, 3D models and data, that don’t relate to each other, and the majority of the information is trapped in files.

 

What do we mean by information models?

A truly connected information (or data) model of entities and relationships connects data, geometry, and documentation within a database. So, when you select something, you know who created it and when and what it is connected to. This is very similar to what IFC can do. A data model such as IFC has the potential to provide this base structure of an information model within a CDE, connecting alphanumerical, geometrical information and documentation, therefore IFC is much more than a file exchange between Revit and Tekla for example.

It’s important to understand that industry-wide standardised data models used within the industry have to be open (not proprietary), not controlled by profit-making organisations and they have to be held accountable the best way is to be governed by international standards.

So rather than having CDEs as they currently are, as document management systems, we should start to release the trapped data from files and put it directly in the CDE database. It’s here that we can connect it with any remaining documentation, so we can find, share, and query, not using files, but discrete data. The word information ‘container’ was purposely used in ISO 19650 rather than ‘file’ to set us up for this.

The project information model and asset information model become truly connected data models working in the background of a database, that grow and change as those delivering information are feeding into it. For those managing projects or assets tapping into this rich connected data means that reporting becomes easier and more in depth.

For example, we could ask a database to tell us how many boilers are in building X and what spaces they are all in. To do this the database will look for building X and then through the relationships find the boilers and then the associated spaces and perform a count of the boilers. It could also tell us the information associated to the boilers and this could be scaled up across an entire estate.

ISO 19650 is very much about the management of information models, specifying the contents, procuring, planning, delivering and assuring it so that the information can be trusted and that they are kept in sync with the real-world physical asset.

 

Conclusion

Rethinking information management and modelling provides the foundations for everything digital, the golden thread, digital twins and of course AI. All this will help large language models learn in a controlled accelerated way using good data, not the chaos we have now — which will just give us rubbish in and rubbish out. We need accurate information which can be trusted, ultimately peoples’ safety relies upon it.

You might be thinking we’ll never do all this; we can’t even do coordinates! If we want to retain control over our information, we don’t have a choice. We ultimately have a decision to make about which path we go down. We either realise we are an industry which is completely fuelled by information and data, which affects everyone, and we invest properly and work together as one unit to make what we have work and lay the foundations together. Or information chaos will overwhelm us.

To learn more about what needs to happen to improve the management of information across the built environment, read our white paper. Or to gain a deeper understanding of the benefits and improvements in handling information, watch our on-demand webinar, ‘From legacy to leading edge: Rethinking information management and modelling’.

New building regulations with requirements for effective digital information management for compliance, will be a driver for tech buying decisions this year.

London, 18th January 2024: 2024 is the year when the Building Safety Act (BSA) will come into full force, following the first provisions rolled out in 2022 and 2023. The BSA mandates digital building information and safety cases, as well as a golden thread of information, for higher-risk buildings (HRBs). Therefore, prioritising information will be high on the industry agenda in 2024, all delivered by technology to ensure effective information management.

But the BSA is not the only regulation with a requirement for digital information competency for compliance. Photographic evidence is now mandatory to comply with Part L under Building Regulation 40. And more legislation and standards are set to follow with digital information requirements, such as the Future Homes and Building Standard, where information will be needed to support building design, construction, and management. With the evolution of the construction and property industry, there is no time like the present to get information, processes, and the technology in order to deliver better information and, therefore, building outcomes.

This emphasis on digital data and information to better manage buildings throughout their lifecycle — from planning all the way through to operations and maintenance — is not necessarily new concept. However, it is only recently that the focus has shifted across the construction and building management sectors to prioritise its importance, driven by new and updated standards and legislation. That is why BuildData Group, with its brands Zutec, Createmaster and Createmaster Information Management, believe information will be king, and should be given the same attention as the physical asset.

Emma Hooper, Head of the Research Institute at the BuildData Group, states: “As an industry we need to shift our thinking about information and data, as it lies at the core of regulation, digital transformation, and the way a built asset is designed, constructed, and operated. Essentially, we need information management to enable us to find, share, understand, use, and query what we do in an easy, digestible, and decisive way, while ensuring quality and trust. It is the linchpin of everything we do across the built environment, and without it we cannot operate effectively. In our minds, information and good information management should be as important as the built asset itself.”

 

So why will information be king in 2024?

Keeping people and our environment safe, keeping well-maintained buildings

The construction, built environment and digital worlds are constantly evolving. Therefore, ensuring the right stakeholders have the right information at the right time to make decisions, control risk, keep buildings well maintained and people and our environment safe is critical. Information is only useful if it is available, accessible, easily discoverable, and understandable and a golden thread of information is now legal requirement of duty holders and accountable persons of occupied higher-risk buildings under the BSA. This is to ensure that everyone involved in building safety management and maintenance, whether directly or indirectly, has access to key details that can help identify, assess, and mitigate risks.

When the right information is delivered at the right time — whether it’s to facilities management, the fire department, or tenants — more informed decisions can be made more quickly. With the right technology platform and stack in place building information can be surfaced, managed, and shared, and kept up to date to meet compliance. Being able to integrate with other systems means all building information can be managed in one place, supporting the journey to a golden thread of information, and making information king.

Quality over quantity

There is a plethora of information required to meet building regulation compliance. From fire and emergency files to structural information, health and safety files, as well as operations & maintenance manuals and completion certificates – all this information should have a purpose. Without purpose it is useless. This means information must be high quality to the degree that it performs that purpose, is usable and enables the outcomes it is intended for.

There are several criteria used to measure information quality, including accuracy, completeness, consistency, timeliness, and validity. All of this is important because it ensures that the information used to make key decisions is reliable. It is therefore critical to ensure information quality throughout the information management process, as without this it can lead to ineffective decision-making, construction and operational errors, and ultimately put lives and our built environment at risk.

There is also a direct correlation between information quality and information compliance. Lost, inaccessible or inaccurate information can cause huge issues, and one of the reasons we have building standards and regulations in place.

With a consistent structure, schemas, and workflows, as well as standardised forms, templates, and checklists, one platform for information management can ensure that data meets quality standards. And, when construction quality is a huge factor in delivering buildings that meet standards and compliance, then the information quality related to that building should be equally as good. Another reason to make information king.

Right data in, is right information out

Leading on from good quality information, is the right data going into the information management system or platform. The right information in, results in the right information coming out to drive the decision-making process, while controlling risks and reputation.

Many systems today have AI or machine learning functionality to help surface the right information. However, the main obstacle for AI is poor quality data, which directly impacts the reliability of the AI model in place.

When in investing in technology, it is also crucial that the data going into a platform is accurate, representative, and of high quality.

When information comes from so many sources, the construction and property industry has always struggled to collect documents and data, structure this information and label it correctly, all while maintaining quality.

Companies like Createmaster, can help collect, tag, and review the information for quality, and store in one platform (like Zutec), with dashboards to manage that information to ensure data governance and robust and accurate information, as well as tagging for findability.

Giving value back to stakeholders

In a market marred by a housing crisis, with interest rates and property prices high, more people are looking to rent, which increases rental demand. The Build to Rent market is buoyant, but like other industry sectors it’s still being hit by rising supplier, material, construction, and maintenance costs, which are generally passed onto the consumer.

By providing more value to stakeholders, through better information, communication and engagement via sales and tenancy management portals, stakeholders will feel like they are getting more value for money. Using information to enhance the service supplied will change the dynamics of seller/buyer or landlord/tenant relationships.

Therefore, to ensure a better customer experience, good quality information and management is key, so again making information king is key.

Building information management leader comes together with Createmaster to strengthen structured information delivery across the asset life cycle.

London, 19th September 2023: Today, Bond Bryan Digital announces it has rebranded to Createmaster Information Management. This move brings the brand together with Createmaster to improve the way building information is specified, delivered and managed across the whole life of an asset.

Combining the multi-award-winning information management and modelling company (Bond Bryan Digital) with the UK number one in brand in Digital Handover (Createmaster) will bring many benefits to players across the building lifecycle. From building design, construction and handover to operations and maintenance, this complementary fit in terms of solutions will support an industry navigating mandatory building information reform.

Today both brands work with clients and contractors from across the UK to define and deliver building information and documentation across the RIBA stages of the building life cycle, supporting customers with information management and compliance.

Bond Bryan Digital rationalises digital building information requirements for its customers and provides information delivery based on industry best practice and international standards, including the UK BIM Framework and ISO 19650.

Createmaster provides digital handover solutions, collating, validating, and delivering asset information and building manuals for customers to support Building Safety Act Gateway 3 compliance and ensure a smooth handover at project completion.

Core solutions delivered to customers won’t change, but the Createmaster brand will be enhanced by adding market-leading information management and building information modelling (BIM) solutions from Bond Bryan Digital.

This move is part of a longer-term goal to provide better connected and structured data to customers, with a consistent digital language as the industry moves towards a golden thread of information. It also means greater joined-up thinking around data and how it can be more closely tied to document delivery. Under the Createmaster brand the two businesses can provide a more holistic approach to the specification, production and management of building information, ultimately strengthening the information delivery model.

Commenting on the name change, Gustave Geisendorf, CEO at BuildData Group, says, “With both brands being credible market leaders, bringing Bond Bryan Digital into the Createmaster fold makes sense at a time when building information management is in the spotlight. New and updated standards and regulations, such as The Building Safety Act, put an emphasis on digitised building information, which is not only accessible, but accurate, discoverable and understandable. Therefore, having connected data is critical.

“Not only can we enhance the work we do for our customers but also respond to the changing regulatory landscape and built environment requirements faster. By creating simpler paths to navigate data and the digital ecosystem, we can develop a clear purpose-driven data approach that seamlessly integrates information and delivers more stakeholder trust. This will meet market requirements for a true golden thread of information, supporting compliance that leads to better building outcomes.”

Bond Bryan Digital Limted will now trade as Createmaster Information Management Limited.

Acknowledged for driving information management forward and making it business as usual

London, 5th July 2023: Today Bond Bryan Digital, leaders in information management and building information modelling (BIM) consultancy and part of the BuildData Group, announced that it has been named Digital Consultancy of the Year in the 2023 Digital Construction Awards.

Hailed as a top honour that celebrates innovation and technology in the built environment, the Digital Construction Awards recognises the incredible efforts from across the sector in driving our industry forward.

Bond Bryan Digital impressed the Digital Construction Awards judges with their ‘information first’ approach and joined-up thinking, starting with a project’s requirements and running right through to delivery. The esteemed panel of judges and industry leaders for 2023 included Mark Enzer OBE FReng, CTO, Mott MacDonald, and Paul Morrell OBE, Former Chief Government Construction Adviser, who represent a wide spectrum of disciplines and expertise from across the industry.

“Bond Bryan Digital is an excellent organisation with great people doing the right things and developing the right tools to drive the industry forward in its digital capability and interoperability,” said the judges of Digital Construction Awards.

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Rob Jackson, Director of Bond Bryan Digital, said: “We pride ourselves on pushing the boundaries on every commission we undertake. With every commission, we aim to push our team’s knowledge forward and help clients and other stakeholders move forward with their own information management journey. Ultimately, we share our knowledge from these commissions, and from our R&D work, with the wider BuildData Group, and industry either through industry initiatives such as the UK BIM Framework and Government and Industry Interoperability Group (GIIG) or through case studies, publications, presentations, and our Knowledge Hub.

“This award is a testament to our ability to help our clients embed information management at the heart of their businesses to allow them to really see the true benefits of ‘better information management’. And how we aren’t just delivering projects but influencing and driving the direction of the whole industry.”

To find out how Bond Bryan Digital is making information management business as usual, and providing real value for clients, talk to the team at info@bondbryandigital.co.uk or on +44 (0) 20 3668 2000. Or, to learn more about how to apply better information management across your projects, download our ebook, ‘From BIM to Better Information Management’.

People depend on accurate information, especially in the built environment, where design, construction, operation and maintenance activities and outcomes are critical to health, safety, and compliance. The principle of managing information better across the whole lifecycle of a building cannot happen without the overall digital transformation of the sector. And the road to better information management begins within individual organisations working to international standards such as ISO 19650 — the international standard for current best practice information management using building information modelling (BIM).

The shift towards better information management is necessary because BIM isn’t just about models but about all information. Therefore, setting out information requirements aligned with ISO 19650 suite of standards, even before a project starts, is necessary to ensure you get the information you need to manage your assets better during the operational phase.

However, utilising ISO 19650 can feel overwhelming without knowing where to start.

Read on to learn more about information management and how it relates to the ISO 19650 suite of standards, as well as the 5 simple steps you need to take you there.

What is ‘better’ information management according to the ISO 19650 standard?

Information management according to the ISO 19650 suite of standards is essentially about a better way of working using standardised best practice processes. By using best practices from the start, the right information can be specified, delivered, and utilised from the design all the way to the operational phases of assets — bringing efficiency and a connected future.

The ISO 19650 suite of standards which has been developed by the international community are something the whole industry needs to get behind. Working from a single guidance framework rather than developing lots of guidance from different global organisations, avoids complications and inconsistencies. You can read more about the fundamentals of better information management here.

What are ISO 19650 organisational information requirements?

Before setting out your detailed exchange information requirements it is important to first understand why you need information at an organisational level. This need should be built out logically, making sure the information tells a consistent story as well as how and when it should be exchanged in the project lifecycle against a clearly defined purpose. Each purpose will ultimately then drive the detailed information that you require from your suppliers.

A key part of both the previous UK standards and the ISO 19650 suite of standards is that information management needs to be driven by clients. This means clients should ideally set out their information requirements in advance of capital projects beginning.

Correctly developing the purpose, function and format of information will ensure that only the right information is specified and won’t introduce unnecessary waste and cost. For more information about developing information requirements see, Guidance Part D, Developing information requirements, from the UK BIM Framework.

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Let’s take a look at 5 steps you can take today that will make you 10x better at implementing information management.

1. Assess your level of information need

Level of information need according to ISO 19650 is a framework which defines the quality, quantity, and granularity of information requirements. The level of information need should be communicated against each purpose; no more and no less. This means that you can receive and organise information in a standardised way.

It’s important to note the risk of over-defining or under-defining information requirements. Anything that contains too much or too little information than is required for its purpose is considered inefficient.

To create your level of information need you should set out your Exchange Information Requirements in detail. This is an information management resource that sets out the exact information you wish to receive from your suppliers at different points in your project, including requirements around documentation, geometrical (geometry) information and alphanumerical (data). It should include the precise information you wish to receive and your criteria for accepting or rejecting information from your suppliers.

2. Inviting suppliers to tender

Due to the reactive and unpredictable nature of the built environment, the way information is generated can often be ad-hoc. More often than not, due to poor planning at the early stages, problems arise too late in the asset lifecycle to act upon efficiently. When technology is used without proper consideration across parties, information can become siloed, duplicated and difficult to interpret. This can result in disappointing outcomes between the client and contractor while causing potentially costly delays and rework. High-quality information management resources help to mitigate this risk.

Once you have developed your information management resources, you are ready to appoint teams. Anyone appointed directly by the client will be referred to under ISO 19650 as a ‘Lead Appointed Party’ while anyone appointed by a Lead Appointed Party is referred to as an ‘Appointed Party’.

As an Appointing Party (the term used for clients under ISO 19650), the client should then share their information management resources as part of any invitation to tender package. This will ensure the client clearly sets out their information requirements and that the Lead Appointed Party can accurately price against these requirements during the tender response process. It is important to recognise that any party employed may need to provide information, not just designers or contractors and each time you invite organisations or teams to tender you should be looking to include your information requirements.

If information requirements are introduced too late after a team or organisation is appointed, negotiation periods are often more drawn out, costly and harder to finalise. Being organised from the outset will set everyone up for success.

3. Review tender responses from suppliers

Before appointing anyone, it is important to review the tender responses against the client’s information management resources from suppliers. This is just as important as examining general information provided as part of a tender. For a tender response to demonstrate that it follows an ISO 19650 compliant process, you would expect to receive the following information for review from each tendering party:

Who will perform the information management function

The tender should include information about the organisations and individuals who will be responsible for managing information on behalf of each Lead Appointed Party to meet the information requirements set out by the client.

Pre-appointment BIM execution plan (BEP)

A pre-appointment BIM Execution Plan must be provided to convey the information management approach and reviewed to ensure a team has a clear delivery plan in place against the requirements. It will also set out the capabilities and capacity of the team to manage the project information in line with expectations. This will be the basis for managing and exchanging information throughout the project.

Mobilisation plan

This plan from each Lead Appointed Party should set out how they will mobilise their team should they be appointed. It should be implemented effectively from the outset and subsequently as new team members join the project.

Risk register

Any potential risks to the project or organisation in the provision of information should be set out. This could be within a wider risk register or as a standalone resource.

Read more in Guidance Part E, Tendering and appointments, from the UK BIM Framework.

4. Make sure appointments are contractual

Upon setting up an appointment, all information management resources included in the invitation to tender (with agreed additions and amendments) plus additional information management resources provided by the Lead Appointed Party should be included within each appointment.

It should be noted that the Project’s Information Protocol plays a key role in joining the appointment/contract to the information management resources, by setting out in detail what resources are included.

5. Check all delivered information against your acceptance criteria

For information to be usable for the purposes originally set out for the project, any delivered information should be checked against acceptance criteria set out in the Exchange Information Requirements.

It’s worth bearing in mind that requirements for accepting information will be different for documentation, geometrical information, and alphanumerical information. Much of the acceptance process can be supported by automated checking processes. To speed things up and provide greater consistency in the information received, it may be beneficial to provide standardised checking rules directly to suppliers.

Checking information as it progresses will ensure there is time to reject any non-compliant information and make sure it is rectified effectively, instead of simply waiting until it becomes critical.

Conclusion

Thinking about the information you need to manage your business before capital projects begin will ensure you are in the best place to guarantee you receive the information you need when projects are undertaken. Developing robust information management resources will improve your overall approach to better information management and improve the quality of information you store and manage during the asset’s lifecycle. These principles underpin the ongoing digital transformation of the sector, as well as a golden thread of information that will ensure all design, building and operational information is stored digitally for key stakeholders to access throughout the life of an asset.

To learn more about how to apply better information management across your projects, download our ebook, ‘From BIM to Better Information Management’, or talk to us at info@bondbryandigital.co.uk or on +44 (0) 20 3668 2000.