Opinion

Information management: its increasing importance as BIM matures

13 October 2020

The risks generated by poor procurement and management of information delivered digitally could be considered greater than its analogue predecessor, for example, inappropriate access or distribution of information and security breaches. Andy Boutle, Kier Construction

Construction needs a clearer focus on information management, and the ISO 19650 standard points the way forward for the whole industry, says Andy Boutle.

The success or failure of a project hinges on the timely delivery of appropriate good quality information, and how it is managed and shared across the project team. 

Information management at its simplest is the management and execution of tasks relating to the definition of information requirements, information production, checking and delivery. It is important to understand information management applies to all information: a combination of geometrical information, alphanumerical information and documentation. 

Everyone making up a project team is involved in some way with information management. This is not a new concept and has existed in some shape or form for many years since information production was carried out by hand, but how we manage information is changing and it’s key that as an industry we adapt and evolve.

In recent years, the importance of good information management with documented responsibility and accountability for the activities and tasks involved has become vital.

A proper focus on information management can help to achieve better project outcomes through, for example:  

  • improved co-ordination and communication across teams;
  • better quality information production; 
  • timely information delivery to clients;
  • mitigate rework, unnecessary waste and cost; 
  • better informed decision making; and  
  • more accurate audit trails/record keeping.

These enablers demand collaborative working and are reliant on the effective management of information across the whole life of assets to help improve our built environment. 

As we move further into a digitally enabled way of working, the necessity for good information management is heightened further. In order to unlock efficiencies and effective use and reuse of information, we need to specify, produce, check, approve and exchange information in a consistent and structured manner.  

The risks generated by poor procurement and management of information delivered digitally could be considered greater than its analogue predecessor, for example inappropriate access or distribution of information and security breaches. If information requirements are unclear or poorly thought through, wasteful efforts in the over-production of information can result, and inefficient processes can creep in if information management isn’t regarded as one of a project’s many priorities. While the use of technology brings many benefits, it relies on consistent and structured approaches to processes and information exchanges. 

It is essential that the industry focuses on ‘information as an asset’ as much as the physical asset itself. At both a business and project level, outcomes are determined by decisions, and decisions are based on information. We therefore need to make sure information management is embedded and treated with the same importance as design, project, and asset management. 

At Kier, we have rolled out information management e-learning training across our construction  business, which is built around ISO 19650. We are also engaging with our clients around this matter and we are seeing alignment to this standard via incoming tenders.

The ISO 19650 series being released under the UK BIM Framework provides a comprehensive internationally-agreed set of standards for information management using BIM. This enables the UK to move beyond ‘BIM Level 2’ and build a resilient foundation to be able to integrate with the future state Information Management Framework (IMF) being developed under the National Digital Twin programme.

Information management should be front and centre of all project delivery, and with the new ISO 19650 series, it’s important that we work together as an industry to show the benefits this can bring, and how we can support clients with information that showcases the quality of our work and also allows them to be informed when making future decisions over the use of their buildings.

Andy Boutle is head of BIM for Kier Construction, an engagement co-lead for the UK BIM Alliance, and part of BSI’s B555/8 standards committee which is specifically developing UK guidance to the ISO 19650 series and shaping UK annexes.