Opinion

Information Manager pt 2

 

From BIM Journal. Click Here to Read Issue 2

from pt1 here.

In terms of defined responsibility, it is important to deep dive further and examine the nature and extent of what the Information Manager is expected to do. A good place to start therefore would be the “CIC Outline Scope of Services for Information Management” with a closer look at what it has to say. The overall realms have been broken down to A, B, C, D thus:

A. Common Data Environment (CDE):

1. Establish a Common Data Environment including processes and procedures to enable reliable information exchange between Project Team Members, the Employer and other parties

2. Establish, agree and implement the information structure and maintenance standards for the Information Model

3.  Receive information into the Information Model in compliance with agreed processes and procedures. Validate compliance with information requirements and advise on noncompliance

4. Maintain the Information Model to meet integrity and security standards in compliance with the employer’s information requirement

5. Manage Common Data Environment processes and procedures, validate compliance with them and advise on noncompliance.[8]

Note the heavy use of “Information Model” and not “BIM Model” the latter being a convenient vehicle for adding and extracting information relating to the project most certainly, but the plethora of other documents that are needed to support any project still need taking into account, thus forming the “Information Model” or “Project Information Model” as it is also known.

Newcomer note: A model need not be 3D geometry, simply a way to structure or arrange information can also be termed a “model” of course.  Indeed not using a folder structure within the CDE at all and searching for information by meta data, with subsequent filtering by using any of the BS 1192:2007 naming, revisions or suitability codes has been demonstrated to work very well too[6] which is also a very distinct information “model” as well.

B. Project Information Management

1. Initiate, agree and implement the Project Information Plan and Asset Information Plan covering:

a) information structure across roles e.g. software platforms (all levels of supply chain) appropriate to meet Employer Requirements and Project Team resources

b) responsibility for provision of information at each Stage

c) level of detail of information required for specific Project Outputs e.g. Planning, Procurement, FM Procurement

d) the process for incorporating as-constructed, testing, validation and commissioning information

2. Enable integration of information within the Project Team and co-ordination of information by Design Lead

3. Agree formats for Project Outputs

4. Assist Project Team Members in assembling information for Project Outputs [8]

It can be concluded here, roundabout, that the Information Manager is the person that coordinates and conducts the activities of the distinct BIM Managers on the entire project; indeed the Information Manager coordinating, specifying and agreeing the deliverables with the other project personnel from the word go (via the Master Information Delivery Plan (MIDP), the Model Production and Delivery Table (MPDT) etc), and policing the process thereafter. The phrase “herding cats” springs to mind, but that would be unkind. To cats.

C. Collaborative working, information exchange and project team management

1. Support the implementation of the Project BIM protocol including updating the Appendices

2. Liaise with and co-operate with Project Team Members and the Employer in support of a collaborative working culture

3. Assist the Project Team Members in establishing information exchange processes, including; define and agree procedures for convening, chairing, attendance and responsibility for recording “information exchange process meetings”

4. Participate in and comply with project team management procedures and processes including:

  1. risk and value management

  2. performance management and measurement procedures

  3. change management procedures including adjustments to budgets and programme

  4. attendance at project and design team meetings as required

  5. agree and implement record keeping, archiving and audit trail for Information Model [8]

In terms of item 1 it is amazing to know that some projects actually have the BIM Protocol contractually “reversed” into them, and even then with the Appendices still left blank.

Item 2 really comes down to the culture of the Information Manager and other parties on the project, thankfully this approach is growing. However there is still a large element of BIM being pedalled as a bolt on cost to clients without the deliverables being followed through to honour it[9].  

D. Additional Services:

1. Provide the services to host the Common Data Environment [8]

So not exactly a reseller - but that business partnership/potential could well materialise?

Designer Lead or Contractor Lead?

A distinction can also be made when it comes to the trajectory established at the start of the project. Where projects are contractor-led it is generally accepted that the main contractor takes on the Information Manager role (or they appoint someone to assist with the task). However where a project is design team led, prior to a main contractor being appointed, there is frequently more ambiguity about who will carry out the role in general[6].

It is safe to say that the role will likely fall to a pivotal member of the client or design team, followed by a person in the main contractor team more formally. Indeed it must be remembered that the Information Manager is typically not a stand-alone role after all and it is expected to shift from design team to contractor anyway. So much so in fact, that under the BIM Protocol a client is obliged to appoint an Information Manager at all project stages[1] simply to allow for this back and forth - ideally well in advance.

Yet a growing number of third party organisations are emerging to provide dedicated Information Management services already, which may be a necessary measure to get over this hump at present before being absorbed into existing roles later[6]. The key take away here is that, as always, clarity is needed as soon as possible when it comes to allocating and appointing the Information Manager role in any BIM project setup.

On a singular project level, rather than looking at any one participant specifically, it may be concluded that the Information Manager in terms of overall project data responsibility sits “above” the BIM Manager (a role that will be examined next) but the top of the tree is still the Project Manager.

Indeed Project Managers should be fully aware of the complementary role of the Information Manager as one day they could well be knee deep in it, plus they ultimately have a responsibility to advise the client of the importance of Information Management in the first place[5]. But the Project Manager duties in essence should remain just as colourful and chaotic as they are now.

As ever the size of the job and the nature of the project will remain key to the allocation of the role and the responsibility and the authority of the project members overall, such that in smaller businesses many of the roles may indeed be carried out by the same individual[7].

To conclude then, at this stage one thing is for sure, if you are carrying out the above duties and “Information Manager” is not in your role or title, it might well be time to start dropping it into conversation.

____________________________

A good Information Manager should allow the Project Manager to really focus on driving value for the client throughout the project, rather than needing to stay on the back of the design team to deliver coordinated information.[4]

JOHN ADAMS, DIRECTOR, BIM STRATEGY LTD

____________________________

It is without question that our Information Managers will be expected to do more than usual, but they will be given the skills that allow them to perform information takeoffs accordingly.

They will also be looking for duplication of data caused by a poorly managed Volume strategy. This can take the form of, for example, ensuring that the curtain walling is removed from the architects model when it lands with the curtain walling contractor, to avoid duplication or to pick up elements that are missing.[10]

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

____________________________

The Information manager is a key role - the very person that sets up and manages the CDE and is vital to BIM[5]

JONATHAN HEWITT, DIRECTOR, theBIM.GURU

____________________________

 

Mainly to set up the CDE, carry out period validation reports on each project. Check that the correct information is available for information exchanges and generally police the CDE.[11]

GARRY FANNON, CONSTRUCTION HEAD OF BIM, WILLMOTT DIXON

____________________________

 

For references see BIM Journal magazine.

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