Comment: Steve Faulkner – The importance of an information manager

Ten pages of important information are likely to be read, 200 pages of overly detailed and complex information will not, and sometimes the important bits will be lost in the process.– Steve Faulkner

Who should be in charge of information management, asks Steve Faulkner, associate director responsible for BIM management at structural engineering consultancy Elliott Wood and a member of the BIM4SME Core Group.

The government BIM Task Group is doing a sterling job in producing the BIM Level 2 Toolset. However, while the industry is developing its knowledge and becoming more enlightened in BIM, what elements of the Toolset should be put into practice now?

BS 1192:2007 Collaborative production of architectural, engineering and construction information: Code of practice is a good document, but not many organisations have adopted all of its recommendations. Most of us simply extracted the part that added value – the drawing numbering. The same approach could apply to PAS 1192-2, another good document and one which becomes clearer as one gains a better understanding of BIM. 

At Elliott Wood, we believe it’s imperative that we all try to adhere to the general principles laid out in PAS 1192-2, but all of its recommendations may not be required on every project. In fact, in some cases the recommendations may actually cause unnecessary complexity and confusion.

On smaller projects or where teams and individuals are new to BIM it can be quite daunting, and indeed challenging, having to trawl through complicated BIM documents trying to find the relevant parts. BIM documentation needs to be simple and concentrate on the key features. We should only use the parts of PA S1192-2 that will benefit the project. Ten pages of important information are likely to be read, 200 pages of overly detailed and complex information will not, and sometimes the important bits will be lost in the process.

So, who oversees the practicalities of BIM and agrees what should be included in the Employer’s Information Requirements? Well, the CIC BIM Protocol, widely accepted as the industry standard states:

“The protocol requires the employer to appoint a party to undertake the information management role. This is expected to form part of a wider set of duties under an existing appointment and is likely to be performed either by the design lead or the project lead, which could be a consultant or contractor at different stages of the project. In some circumstances the employer may appoint a standalone information manager. The information manager has no design related duties.”

Considering this, the secret to successful BIM could lie with the appointment of a suitable information manager. After all, one of the key roles of the information manager will be to advise the client and instigate the route the BIM journey will take.

Whether the information management is performed by a member of the design team or the newly emerged role of external BIM consultant is up for debate. There are pros and cons for both approaches: BIM consultants are typically immersed in government protocol and eat, sleep and breathe BIM processes, but designers generally deliver a more practical approach aligned for the project in hand.

As an overview, the information manger’s role should be to work with the lead designer to facilitate and document a sensible and appropriate BIM process to make projects more efficient and align with the client’s aspirations for the project. The BIM process can be as simple or as complicated as we want it to be. 

We prefer the simple approach when we act as the information manager. As an example of this we at Elliott Wood have outlined what we believe to be the key actions for the information manager at each stage of the traditional procurement below:

RIBA Work Stages 0, 1, 2 and 3

The pre-contract information management may be managed by either one of the design team or an external BIM consultant.

Stage 0 (Strategic Definition) – Government Soft Landings (GSL) & Information Manager (IM)

Stage 1 (Preparation and Brief) – Employer’s Information Requirements (EIR)  & Model Production and Delivery Table (MPDT)

Stage 2 (Concept Design) – BIM Execution Plan (BEP)

Stage 3 (Developed Design)Model Production and Delivery Table (MPDT) & BIM Competency Assessment (BCA)

RIBA Work Stages 4, 5, 6 and 7

Post-contract, it is suggested that the lead contractor should take responsibility for the information management. It may be prudent for the pre contract information manager to be retained client side in an advisory/monitoring role.

Stage 4 (Technical Design) – CDE, BIM Execution Plan (BEP) , Master Information Delivery Plan (MIDP)

Stage 5 (Construction) Project Information Model (PIM)

Stage 6 (Handover & Close out) – Asset Information Model (AIM)

Stage 7 (In Use) Facilities Management (FM)

Whoever performs the role of the information manager, the important issue is they look at what the requirements are for the project in hand and learn from previous mistakes. The information manager should adhere to the principles of the governments BIM Toolset, using the parts that add value but most importantly, they need to keep things simple.

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