Improving project information audits from an Information Manager perspective

by Sangcheol Jeong | March 26, 2021 | 6 min read

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Which is the most important part in BIM? The B, the I or the M?

This is a question that I often ask clients or project team members when we first meet to introduce BIM to their projects or organisations.

As we know, BIM stands for Building Information Modelling, but the idea of BIM is already extended to infrastructures such as plants, mining facilities, bridges and tunnels and beyond – not simply bound only to “Building”.

There is also another approach that defines M in BIM as “Management” rather than ‘Modelling’, and emphasises that BIM is not just a model, but a process or managerial concept.

The only part that does not change in the concept of BIM is “Information”. What we ultimately handle is the information, regardless of whether it is modelled or managed, or whether it is for a building or infrastructure.

Therefore, how this information is managed should always be essential and central to the application of BIM.

Unfortunately, there is a problem. The concept of information is simply too diverse. ISO 19650-1 states that there are various type of information to be managed in a project, such as geometrical models, schedules and databases documentation, video clips and sound recordings, soil and product samples and existing assets. They can be either structured or unstructured information. The list is endless!

All this information should eventually be generated and managed for the clients to handle it. However, this means that if the client’s requirements are vague, producing and managing information will also lose its goal and direction. It can cause the project participants to create information in the wrong way and potentially omit something. They also may excessively include unnecessary information. As such, the role of the Information Manager is critical.

Information Managers typically are either appointed on the client side or within a project delivery team. On the client side, they can advise clients to identify and develop their requirements such as the Exchange Information Requirements (EIR) and Asset Information Requirements (AIR). If the client lacks BIM-based project experience, several workshops can be held to assess and meet the client’s needs for project delivery and asset and facility management clearly.

In the case of the Information Manager within the project delivery team, they establish a BIM Execution Plan (BEP) based on the client’s requirements and manage all information in the project accordingly. The project Information Manager also produces a Master Information Delivery Plan (MIDP) by integrating Task Information Delivery Plans (TIDPs) provided by the design party in each discipline and check it regularly to ensure each team create and exchange the designated deliverables.

To this end, the project Information Managers take on auditing the various information, including information models, model coordination, Common Data Environment (CDE) and COBie data. Let’s breakdown exactly how this information is reviewed.

Information models

This is a validation of the native model files, which verifies whether the model is produced in accordance with the specified authoring principles. It includes examining whether the model contains sufficient demand information, whether it contains any unnecessary information, or whether the model and library file size is optimised. This can be conducted using a variety of tools. The Model Checker that BIM Academy mainly utilise can identify any error against 50 criteria across 4 categories. (See our previous article on the data validation process)

Model coordination

This task is to ensure that each disciplinary model is properly linked with the others. It generally involves verifying that the shared coordinates of each model are matched, and the models are appropriately federated. It also explores various conflicts arising from the aggregated model and reports recommendations to each design team. This is executed in the most appropriate way for the project utilising tools such as Navisworks, Solibri or BIM Track.

Fig 1. Coordination check ruleset

Common Data Environment (CDE)

The Information Manager takes on the setting up a CDE and monitoring whether each team is properly exchanging information. It includes a validation that files are properly created and shared in a specified location within the CDE in accordance with the naming convention. If the project delivery team accommodates additional attributes to identify the files, the appropriateness of attributes also could be verified. The CDE can be effectively determined based on the project delivery team’s preferences or capabilities, such as Viewpoint, BIM 360, etc. BIM Academy provides a dashboard and datasheet to encourage teams to easily identify the validation results of the uploaded files for projects that use BIM 360 as a CDE.

Fig 2. BIM 360 audit dashboard

Fig 2. BIM 360 audit dashboard

COBie data

The information on asset management is typically a large volume of data and varies depending on the project so that the client’s requirements should be clearly identified. The COBie produced at each stage is verified whether it is in accordance with identified asset information based on AIR. It involves classification code, type, component, location, maintenance work, etc.

These audits are normally repetitive, time-consuming and laborious. The Information Manager’s role is to attempt to improve the audit process by developing a rule-based verification application or utilising various software.

Nevertheless, there can always be some issues beyond the rules, which require to be actioned manually. In the case of the model coordination check, it is sometimes necessary for the auditors to judge on their own. However, the auditors may not really know why it is a problem and how it should be improved even if they can find the clashes using tools. In fact, it is up to the designers who produced models to judge and correct conflicts. Thus, what the project Information Manager should focus on is how they can effectively communicate with the project delivery team and encourage them to improve models efficiently.

Therefore, project information audits can be ultimately advanced by interrelationships between information managers, clients, and project delivery teams.

The following three directions can be considered when the information managers conduct project audits:

  1. The client’s requirements should be specifically clarified
  2. The audit processes should be efficiently simplified
  3. The audit results should be effectively communicated
Fig 3. The approaches of improving project information audits

Fig 3. The approaches of improving project information audits

With this perspective, BIM Academy is improving the project audit process, and we look forward to introducing more advanced and detailed outputs in future articles.

For more information, please contact [email protected].