Defining FM and Client Information: OIR, AIR, PLQ and EIR


From BIM Journal. Click Here to Read Issue 5

Given the criticality of (and confusion around) these very documents and processes, here is a timely reminder by Simon Ashworth (Institute of Facility Management, Zurich University of Applied Sciences) of how this jigsaw fits together from an FM perspective.

Facility managers and clients are beginning to think more and more about the benefits that the digitisation of their real estate portfolio may deliver when it comes to operation and strategic planning. With BIM already having the potential to help to deliver real value to this digitisation process, indeed we have all heard that “we should start with the end in mind” but what does this mean exactly for facility managers and clients? How do you start the process of defining what information is needed from a BIM project?

The expectation is that the BIM process will deliver the models, data and information in a way that will add real value to support the ongoing management of the assets in the operational phase, and in turn support the organisations wider vision, mission and strategic objectives. However, in order for these expectations to be met the client and associated facility managers need to be actively involved very early in the process, if they are to get what they really want and need at the end.

It is no secret that the BIM process involves lots of acronyms; OIR, AIR, EIR, PLQ, AIM etc and understanding what they all mean and how they come together can seem a bit confusing and daunting at first. But there is nothing difficult about it and certainly nothing to fear.

A good starting point when thinking about “starting with the end in mind” is to consider the analogy of successfully completing a jigsaw. It is critical that you have all of the pieces to hand, as well as having a strategy in place that takes care of how to fit each piece together in the right place, and in the right order, to be able to clearly see and understand the bigger picture.

The strategy and the pieces of the jigsaw can be thought of in terms of the various “information requirements” in the BIM process (OIR, AIR, EIR) while understanding their interdependencies. These are nicely illustrated in the above figure that shows the “relationship between elements of information management” and how each piece of the jigsaw fits together in the process.

When each of the pieces are successfully brought together, they ultimately provide the big picture or the end result.

For example, a good quality Asset Information Model (AIM), as defined in PAS 1192-3 as being “the data and information that relates to assets, to a level required to support an organisation’s asset management system” is typically required by the operation teams to support their day to day business and management teams when it comes to strategy planning.

However, it is important that we understand that every organisation is unique, in terms of their strategic approach to managing their assets and the specific information they need in order to support successful asset management and reporting purposes.

Indeed, it is this very uniqueness that means that there should be no shortcuts when it comes to organisations producing their own OIR and AIR. This is not a “copy-paste” exercise from other examples that may be in circulation. The old adage of “measure twice cut once” can also be applied here, in the fact that facility managers and clients really do need to ensure that the OIR and AIR are in place for their specific organisations, which embody their own distinct particularities.

Indeed, they should be in place as part of an organisation’s asset management strategy irrespective of whether BIM is involved or not. This explains why the OIR and AIR are essential as precursors to the EIR in the jigsaw that is the BIM process. This solid understanding of the organisation’s strategic information will then help when developing the EIR that defines what data and what information is needed during the forthcoming operation.

PLQs (Plain Language Questions) are, in today’s climate, the questions that industry professionals are putting to clients in order to ensure, or at least “second guess” the type of information that clients and FM operators may need when it comes to the actual running of the facility. However facility managers are best placed to understand client asset management strategy and how the assets will be run over their operational life. As such, they should be taking the bull by the horns and driving the process using the client OIR and AIR to to ensure that a client oriented EIR is in place for the BIM process from day one. This requires asking questions of ourselves and our clients in the first place, before providing the design and build teams with this information early on.

Further research and guidance regarding the role of FM in preparing a BIM strategy and Employer's Information Requirements (EIR) to align with client asset management strategy can be found here. With a more detailed look at the EIR being described later in BIM Journal here.

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