Revised information management mandate: the push the industry needs

Abstract image for revised information management mandate
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The proposed revised information management mandate is the push the industry needs towards improved productivity and collaboration. That’s the message from Anne Kemp OBE, chair of nima, and Hannah Vickers, chief of staff at Mace and co-author of the Construction Leadership Council’s productivity report, published last week.

Among many proposals put forward in the report was a revision to the information management mandate (introduced two years ago), making it more data-driven and focusing on the whole-life cycle of assets.

Kemp told BIMplus: “We’ve been talking about it for quite a while. There is an information management mandate – it’s in the Transforming Infrastructure Performance: Roadmap to 2030. But with no offence intended, it’s kind of buried – it’s not come to the surface, people aren’t really aware of it.

“We had a nudge from the Department for Business and Trade, saying the mandate would be much better if it was strengthened by industry.”

Drafting of the revisions has started with a focus on what has worked and what hasn’t in the current mandate and the BIM mandate before that.

Kemp said: “The difficulty with BIM is there are still people who think it is 3D modelling. What we can do is really bring out the strength of the ISO 19650 series – so that doesn’t change! But we’re going to drive at whole life. And that it’s data-driven.

“[The revision] will strengthen the mandate, make it more appealing, it will be much clearer why and what the opportunities are, why it’s worth doing it, and ensuring it’s much more about collaboration.”

“The revision will strengthen the mandate, make it more appealing, it will be much clearer why and what the opportunities are.”

Anne Kemp OBE

Inclusive mandate

Kemp added that those involved want to ensure the mandate is inclusive, from the earliest adopters through to data evangelists. “It’s for those who haven’t started their journey yet and making sure it doesn’t feel above them – it’s about making it simple and approachable. But it will work for the ultimate clever clogs and geeks. It’s for everyone: we want it to be inclusive.”

So when can we expect the mandate to come into effect? The current political situation muddies the water. Kemp said: “We don’t know the timing of the mandate, but what we can do is look at the benefits and if necessary launch the mandate through a charter mechanism if it gets buried by elections.”

Looking at the raft of other proposals in the productivity report, Vickers revealed: “We’re keen to start with some of the things we see as a challenge. One of the opportunities we see early on is the digitalisation of the planning system. If you look at the National Infrastructure Commission’s recommendations, they’ve already put some good stuff in there that would be enabled by the information management mandate around how to use data through the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Planning regime.

“That’s the sort of thing we want to get on with in the next six to 12 months with the current government and those writing manifestos for a future election.”

Inter-linked proposals

Many of the CLC’s proposals are interlinked either with each other or with complementary actions for both government and industry to take. Should we be concerned about the government wanting to take a pick ’n’ mix approach?

Hannah Vickers

“This feels to me much more like an implementation programme – it’s a consolidation, if you like, of the industry’s greatest hits, but it’s not going to be easy.”

Hannah Vickers

Vickers told BIMplus: “The big opportunity, we’re saying, is in creating a productive environment – everything that happens before you get to site. Obviously, once you start to unpick that you’ve got how you would tackle the planning regime linked to how you would structure projects, with the leadership linked to the organisational design and the commercial approach.

“So as soon as you start to tug on one of those strings, it does quickly get joined up, but again, that’s where I think we come back to prioritisation. We’ve been able to say, look, the really big opportunity is in the stuff that happens before we get to sites, so we’re really going to focus in on that phase.”

She noted that the productivity report is not a blank sheet of paper: “The industry has the mandate, the Construction Playbook: the report is about actually doing this.

“This feels to me much more like an implementation programme – it’s a consolidation, if you like, of the industry’s greatest hits, but it’s not going to be easy.”

Government response

How has government responded to the report so far? The fact that the report is from the CLC already implies a certain level of goodwill, but Vickers explained further: “We’ve got good support from the Department for Business and Trade. Their role is to work with us to reach into the rest of government. This week, we’ve taken the report to the Tory Party conference and given it to the prime minister and the chancellor.

“It’s heartening that both central government and major programme leaders were really keen that the report had quantitative analysis behind it (based on ONS data). A lot of what it recommends are things that are logical to them.”

Ultimately, it’s all about how data delivers trust and transparency, which in turn should give the public sector the opportunity to contract with the industry on more than cost alone, Vickers said. “I think we are going to need to do some work, particularly with the government clients who perhaps want to have more sophisticated commercial relationships that aren’t just based on cost.

“They’re going to need to be organised with their data, with the information management mandate, to give them the confidence to do that. If you’re basing a commercial relationship on something other than cost, you need a different source of data.”

She concludes: “To me, the single biggest blocker that we have for rolling out collaborative contracting is that the only data anybody trusts at the moment is cost.”

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