Opinion

Information Manager pt 1

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From BIM Journal. Click Here to Read Issue 2

The role of Information Manager is officially put forward in PAS1192:2 and the BIM Protocol and it describes a distinct person, or persons if a split role with no design responsibility at all. Which is understandable yet something of a small victory when it comes to limiting the extent of their workload, as we shall see.

However, the significance of the role cannot be understated as John Adams (BIM Strategy) points out, because it is the first real data focussed role in the world of BIM and the value of turning data into structured information is only just being realised[4]. Clearly the importance of this key role will only increase over time.

No Longer a Document Controller

Indeed as Jonathan Hewitt (theBIM.guru) identifies, this role is about the information and process side of things, plus granting project/task team members access to the CDE, ensuring documents are named in line with the nominated naming convention and making sure the security provisions are in place and active and up to date[5].

A good broad brush outline certainly, and of course calls have been made for Document Controllers to be the natural choice when it comes to this migration, but there is much more to being Information Manager than meets the eye, as John Ford (Carrillion) identifies.

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Of the existing roles, which are predisposed to becoming the Information Managers of the future?

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We have focussed our attention to the often overlooked ‘Document Controller’ as we currently task these resourceful individuals to provide and support our good Information Management practices by keeping our printed drawings up to date, managing our Electronic Document Management Systems plus a whole lot more already.

But we believe that the role should be broadened to encompass all forms of information - which alone requires significant training not to mention a whole raft of new processes that have even greater responsibility. This role is currently evolving into that of Information Controller/ Manager but it will definitely not be an automated switch and the individuals involved have a lot to learn. This is a simple change only on the face of it, and one that makes a clear statement that clearly broadcasts “it’s not all about the documents anymore” but there is some way to go overall, and modernising wholesale is rapidly, continually and determinedly happening”.[10]

JOHN FORD, BUSINESS INFORMATION MANAGER (BIM R&D), CARILLION

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Indeed the traditional role of the document controller now seems to be the thin end of the wedge when it comes to overall responsibility as many other items, such as federating asset model data, validating that data and then producing COBie outputs at the end of each stage are also genuine real world requirements. Plus it must be remembered that all information in the project needs to be managed not just the BIM data[6].

A sizeable undertaking indeed and something that can only be achieved by a competent and confident individual with the authority, knowledge and rapport to make it succeed. After all, let us be reminded that on projects led with the BIM Protocol, the Information Manager has a role in facilitating the management of the federated model and the production of project outputs as well. Together with being responsible for managing the operation, standards and culture of the Common Data Environment[7] to begin with.

Information Management and BIM

Clearly the Information Manager needs to keep on top of this plethora of spinning plates by providing regular reports (and regular chasing) of all parties long before they hand over their own duties to the contractor’s Information Manager to carry on the charade - should the role be split in this ‘traditional’ manner rather than a third party handling the Information Management duties from cradle to grave.

A huge career positive however is that the Information Manager is also in a strong role as an advocate for BIM and digital collaboration as they can genuinely see the bigger picture of the purpose of BIM materialising before their very eyes. A conductor of sorts with an influence that will be felt by all players. Indeed keeping a regular rhythm among project parties is the goal and milking the analogy further, excellent communication skills and regular eye contact are the basics when it comes to true spontaneous synergy, inclusion and collaboration as well.

..part 2 here.

For references see BIM Journal magazine.

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Nathan Hudson

Hello - Please feel free to drop me a line (especially if you're in Training or Academia - huge developments going on for you here). I am also the editor of BIM Journal.

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