There are always document managers and documents are often managed electronically, so does calling someone a “BIM information manager” or a “BIM coordinator” mean that there is a new role, or is the industry rightly cynical about any rebranding that comes with an additional fee?
The Construction Industry Council has helpfully set out a suggested scope of services for the role of the information manager (which fits with its published BIM Protocol). That scope includes:
- establishing a “common data environment” (the set of common methods and standards on a shared platform) for reliable information exchange and then maintaining and validating the information flow during the project (and possibly as an additional service, hosting the common data environment); and
- initiating and implementing a project information plan and asset information plan that sets out each project team member’s responsibility to provide information and ensures that the software platforms allow for the validation of data and coordination of information by the design lead.
The role is clearly crucial to the success of any BIM project: data exchange is key and, particularly at level 2 BIM (where consultants are inputting information with separate software tools that are linked up by software developed specifically for that purpose), the coordination of that data exchange is at the core of the success of the project.
The integrity of the data exchange is also a risk to a project and one which, using the CIC’s standardised BIM Protocol, appears to sit with the client. The client therefore wants someone to be clearly responsible for validating data.
However, the implementation of a project information plan (backed by a contractual responsibility to provide information in accordance with a timetable of information drops) is a key management tool to ensure that the project is properly coordinated and delivered and one that a project lead would want to control.
Equally, while the CIC and the BIM Task Group are keen to distinguish the information manager from a “BIM coordinator” (essentially a design role with responsibility for model coordination and clash detection), the information manager’s services role implies a level of coordination that more naturally fits as part of leading design.
The distinctions are blurred, but perhaps the information manager’s services are best carved-up on a project-specific basis between existing team member project roles.
By Assad Maqbool, a partner at Trowers & Hamlins specialising in projects and construction