One information management process, two standards

Is the current approach keeping us stuck in our separate lanes?

The author of ISO 19650-2 questions the structure of the ISO 19650 series and asks if we should have two standards for one information management process.

The International Standards Organization (ISO) 19650 series defines an internationally agreed business process for the effective management and collaborative production of information relating to built assets.

Currently the ISO 19650 series is published in five parts (standards) – with parts two and three containing the information management (IM) process for the delivery and operational phases, respectively. Logically, the operational phase follows the delivery phase for a built asset. So, surely logic would dictate that part three should follow part two?

Those familiar with part three (operational phase) will already know that it does not start after the project is complete – far from it. In fact, part three starts way before a project is initiated. That is why I explain to people that part three of the ISO 19650 series should actually be seen as the prequel to part two (delivery phase).

The reason being is that part three contains several important activities (clauses) that asset owners (appointing parties) must complete before the delivery phase (project) commences.

Failure to undertake these activities, or attempting to undertake them when the project has started, is likely to lead to inaccurate, incomplete, or ambiguous information being handed over at the end of the project. This makes it difficult for the asset owner to operate and maintain the asset effectively and adds unbudgeted costs to retrospectively generate the information required. The phrase starting with the end in mind.

Looking back

The reason the IM process was split into two parts and the delivery phase (part 2) was developed (and documented) before the operational phase (part 3) was, in my view, nothing to do with logical steps.

It all started in 2010 and the development of the UK 1192 series. I think it is fair to say, at that time, we knew more about managing information during the delivery phase than we did the operational phase. And operators and maintainers had the misconception that ‘BIM’ (Building Information Modelling) was only relevant for the design and construction of a built asset.

Having two standards for one IM process may have inadvertently shored up the silos we are so desperately trying to break down

In 2014 when we started to elevate the UK 1192 series to international level (the ISO 19650 series), things had thankfully moved on. By this point the UK 1192 series was widely adopted around the world. Therefore, it was decided to retain the structure and numbering sequence to avoid any confusion.

In reality when you map out the key activities of the IM process you will find that 35 of the 40 activities within part two of the ISO 19650 series are also found in part three – albeit some with an asset focus, rather than a project focus.

This is no accident and is testament to the efforts of the respective working groups in ensuring that parts two and three of the ISO 19650 series are closely aligned.

Is two better than one?

However, I am now concerned that having two standards for one IM process may have inadvertently shored up the silos we are so desperately trying to break down. Whereby designers and constructors only use part two, operators and maintainers only use part three.

On reflection, I wonder what would have happened had we combined the two standards to create an end-to-end IM process that all parties could adopt.

Would it have increased the likelihood that projects would be initiated with a clear set of organisational, asset and security information requirements and asset information standards etc? Might it have improved the exchange of information from the operational teams to the delivery teams and back to operational teams; or enabled the ‘golden thread’ of information throughout the asset lifecycle?

Based on my personal experience of working with several large asset owners and megaprojects, I honestly believe it would. What are your thoughts?

The knowledge gap

I also believe that this approach would significantly aid learning and understanding across all parties. At Operam Academy, we help individuals learn about the effective management and collaborative production of information.

We have always believed that ‘doing a page turn of the standards’ is not an effective way for people to learn about the IM process, or their role in it. Instead, we focus more on the key activities within the IM process, and less on the various parts of the ISO 19650 series.

We have already used our extensive knowledge of the ISO 19650 series to combine the key activities from parts two and three to create an end-to-end IM process covering the entire asset lifecycle. It is the same process, just presented in a different way. The feedback on this end-to-end IM process has been extremely positive from a learning perspective.

Please note, this combined IM process is for training purposes only, and you should always conform to the activities and clauses within the relative standards when required.

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Paul Shillcock is managing director of Operam and author of ISO 19650-2 and a co-author of PAS 1192-2, and PD 19650

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  1. I hold the perspective that the issue of merely having two standards might not be as significant as it appears. The article`s 5th paragraph asserts that when clients fail to fulfil their responsibilities, such as comprehending and clearly defining their genuine information prerequisites, it results in inaccuracies and gaps within the information. Presently, from my long batch of recorded projects and data (Over 85 clients and 470 EIRs) which I have shared bia BIMPlus/seminars, easily over 90% of EIRs/clients are not adhering to this practice, not due to the existence of dual standards for a single process, but primarily because opting for a checkbox approach outweighs the effort required to grasp their information necessities. Remarkably, even some of the most exemplary EIRs I have encountered fall short of capturing their authentic needs, with traditional paperwork still maintaining prominence. Most of the public sector outsource their facility and asset management needs, meaning they only know what data they may need once they appoint the manager, which is often decided after the standards define. I am of the opinion that the issues posed are misaligned. The shortcoming of clients to fulfill their obligations as per the standards does not necessarily stem from a lack of knowledge or the standard’s division. Rather, it’s predominantly a result of underestimating the considerable effort involved in their successful completion. The ISO presents it as a simplified task—”accomplish these clauses within a few pages by merely generating a document, and victory is achieved.”

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