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Analysis

How F+G is improving its information management with ISO19650

14 September 2020

The recent update to the guidance for ISO 19650 reinforces the benefits of information management, says Shahida Rajabdeen.

More than ever, getting the most out of your data depends upon intelligent information management. And better information management can support better decision-making, allowing you to make clear progress towards your goals. Here’s how to integrate better information requirement standards with your goals, context, and culture.  

Information has never been so abundant. Yet as organisations amass vast amounts of data, its management - from its sourcing to maintenance and storage - becomes ever more vital. Without good information management, the power of data is blunted. Its reliability, relevance and meaning are all made doubtful by the absence of proper protocols and methodologies. After all, if you can’t really trust your information, then what use is having it at all?

At the same time, capital infrastructure is coming under greater and greater scrutiny to demonstrate its wider benefits to society as a whole. Scrutiny is intensifying. Transparency, sustainability, and value for money are three demands among many. And capital infrastructure projects that fail to provide strong evidence of their progressive credentials are met with fierce resistance, which in some cases can derail the entire project. 

Aligning your organisational goals to well-defined sources of reliable data, which demonstrate your progress towards that goal, enables you to meet this interrogation with strong evidence. It’s not enough just to say that you are committed to social goals like value for money or sustainability - you need to be able to prove it. And to do so, you need good information management methodology. 

If information is an organisation’s raw intelligence, then information management focuses that intelligence so that it is meaningfully ordered, carefully stored, and harnessed to the overall aim of the organisation itself. – Shahida Rajabdeen

That’s why more and more organisations are turning to the discipline of information management. It provides rigorous frameworks for the optimal sourcing, sorting, storing, and analysis of all kinds of data. By doing so, it ensures that your vision is connected to the gathering of data on the frontline of your business. This continuity gives you more insight into how your assets are actually performing in relation to your wider objectives, allowing for better oversight, awareness, and decision-making. Ultimately, it gives senior leaders a much greater line of sight over the information they need to effectively support their business objectives. 

From organisation to asset

If information is an organisation’s raw intelligence, then information management focuses that intelligence so that it is meaningfully ordered, carefully stored, and harnessed to the overall aim of the organisation itself. 

Our approach integrates organisational information requirements (OIR) with asset information requirements (AIR) and exchange information requirements (EIR), as outlined in the ISO framework. For example, let’s say that an organisation’s goal is to become entirely carbon-neutral within the next decade. This would form its OIR, as this goal would be used to define the information needed from its assets. 

In other words, the organisation’s need for sustainability would guide the information it needs from relevant assets in order to measure its progress towards this goal, from carbon emissions to water consumption. So by defining the OIR and connecting them to the relevant pools of data at the asset level, we can integrate strategy with performance, enable meaningful monitoring, and improve visibility. 

Supporting ISO implementation

The best guidelines for information management are found in the ISO 19650 series.

We’re working to support ISO 19650’s implementation by tailoring its protocols to each of our clients. By definition, common standards cannot account for each organisation’s peculiarities. Much of their impact depends on how they are adopted. Their value is limited if your organisation cannot find a way of integrating the ISO’s protocols.

With the right information management methodology, assets become more than bricks and mortar. They begin to speak coherently. They can tell you what is happening, even at a fine-grained level of detail.– Shahida Rajabdeen

At Atkins, we help our clients embrace structured information standards in a way that connects meaningfully to their organisational drivers. Every organisation has its own way of working, which has evolved to meet the particular challenges of its industry. Unlocking the efficiency benefits of ISO protocols requires translating them so that they are compatible with an organisation’s context, culture and challenges.

Our information requirement pathway methodology, connecting OIR to AIR and EIR, gives them trusted information to achieve their objectives. Once the information requirements have been defined and the relationship between them ascertained, our clients are then able to track, measure, and continue progress towards that goal with confidence. 

One of the benefits of information management is that it enables an evidence base to be developed. Clear, joined-up information requirements allow you to draw upon reliable, trustworthy information to back up your argument. Our approach brings site-wide information standards in line with ISO protocols, ensuring that the right pools of data are used to source the right evidence. 

We have the technical expertise to define the relevant informational requirements needed to connect your organisational goals to specific sources of information. What constitutes whole life cycle carbon, for example? Our ecologists and environmental specialists ensure that these definitions are meaningfully drawn and precisely implemented. 

Working with information managers, these subject-specific experts untangle the various facets linking to your organisational objective. Be it sustainability, maintenance, programming or costing, they will connect your goals to the right sources of data in the right way. Having the right information requirements in place helps to ensure that senior leaders know which data sources are relevant to which goals, expediting the process. 

Beyond information

With the right information management methodology, assets become more than bricks and mortar. They begin to speak coherently. They can tell you what is happening, even at a fine-grained level of detail. And they can relate this information to your organisational ambitions, unlocking its power and driving you forward.

But to achieve this, we must begin thinking of information as more than just inert data. Good information management methodologies reveal the relationships between different orders of data, defining these relationships and integrating them meaningfully. 

And the benefits can be transformative. Structured information is galvanised by purpose, making it insightful. Organisational commitments are more readily achievable, as the obstacles blocking them are made more readily perceivable. And for your team, good information management protocols improve coordination, minimising duplication and ensuring that everyone is working towards a common goal. 

We’re helping many clients to embrace a structured information methodology. Our information requirement pathway enables us to clearly test how the client objectives are being met, asset by asset. When overlaid across multiple objective data requirements, it clearly shows where collected data serves multiple objective data set requirements, exposing where data is being collected multiple times in slightly different ways and so preventing wasted time and duplicated effort. It helps to improve efficiency, strengthen decision-making and measure your progress - enabling you to make your goals a reality. 

To see how we’re supporting the implementation of ISO 19650, watch our new animated video here: https://ukbimframework.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/OIR-Line-of-Sight.mp4

Shahida Rajabdeen is an associate director at Faithful+Gould.

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