To CDE, or not to CDE, that is the question

by Andrew Johnson | November 6, 2020 |  3 min read

To CDE, or not to CDE, that is the question
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Choosing the right Common Data Environment (CDE) is a crucial step for the implementation of BIM in a project. This has been evident to us here at BIM Academy when selecting the right CDE for a mining industry client of ours.

The number of vendors offering CDEs has grown significantly in the last few years, and it has become harder and harder to pick the right one for the project. BIM Academy proposed conducting a risk assessment that would identify the causes of business disruption and also highlight what CDE functional requirements are essential and required for the project.

The risk assessment method chosen was the BowTie method: an established risk assessment technique used to visually map out the plausible incident scenarios which could exist around a given hazard.

The first ‘real’ BowTie diagrams appeared in the Imperial Chemistry Industry (ICI) on hazard analysis.

The catastrophic incident on the Piper Alpha platform in 1988 awoke the oil & gas industry. The Lord Cullen public enquiry into the disaster concluded that there was far too little understanding of hazards and their accompanying risks that are part of operations. It urged the industry to gain more insight in the casualty of seemingly independent events and conditions, and to develop a systematic way of assuring control of these hazards.

First, we held a workshop online with the client Information Management (IM) team where they were first taught the BowTie method terminology and how it works. A collaborative software tool was used to create, collaborate and centralise communication within the team.

The BowTie method provides a readily understood visualisation of relationships between the causes of business disruption, the escalation of such events, the controls preventing the event from occurring, and the preparedness measures in place to limit the business impact. The diagram is shaped like a bow tie, creating a clear differentiation between proactive and reactive risk management.

To CDE, or not to CDE, that is the question

The BowTie model consists of different elements that build up a risk picture. The risk picture revolves around the Hazard. This could be something in, around or part of an organisation, or an activity which has the potential to cause damage or harm. In the BowTie method, Loss of Control is the identification of a hazard or the undesired system state.

In the case of our project, the team summarised the Loss of Control as “the inability to share and access data in a CDE”. Having understood the methodology, it did not take the team long to identify threats ranging from failure of implementation and BIM non-compliance. Consequences were identified, which are the undesirable outcomes caused by the given Hazard, such as miscommunication and duplication of data. For each threat and consequence the team then defined Barriers which are the measures taken to prevent, control or mitigate the Loss of Control.

Already the BowTie diagram was nicely starting to take shape. Now the team had to understand the potential weaknesses of the control framework. The team identified the Escalation factors that potentially will reduce the effectiveness of the Barrier. Finally, the Escalation factors controls were identified: these prevent the escalation factors having an impact on the Barriers

The IM team thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and are now looking at using the BowTie method as a risk assessment tool on other aspects of the project to manage and mitigate risks.