The Importance of the Project Information Manager - (Part 03)
This is the third and final part of a short series of topics that relate to the importance of a Project Information Manager. The items discussed are from my own experiences on several projects varying in size function and scope. The topics I want to discuss have been documented quite well in the latest industry standards, but questions and confusion still emerge in discussions from time to time with different project stakeholders.
IM Tasks - Project Stages
The aim is to review the importance of information management, the duties, and responsibilities of the information manager and how tasks are managed and completed over the lifecycle of a project.
As an overview, the IM’s role should be to work with the appointing party to facilitate and document the BIM process, in order to make projects more efficient from concept design though to facilities management. The BIM process can be as simple or as complicated as we want it to be.
We prefer the simple approach, and using a traditional procurement route we have attempted to outline some of the tasks at different stages.
I want to be clear that lots of these items such as capability assessments, TIDP’s etc can happen at multiple stages and multiple appointments and may change depending on the form or contract.
• Stage 0 (Strategic Definition) – Government Soft Landings (GSL) & Information Manager (IM)
The Client appoints the IM. The IM, Client, and ideally the Design Lead should then review any lessons learned from previous projects (refer to Governments Soft Landings) and sets out the BIM Strategy for the project.
• Stage 1 (Preparation and Brief) – Employer’s Information Requirements (EIR) & Model Production and Delivery Table (MPDT)
The IM produces the Employers Information Requirements (EIR); detailing the specific BIM requirements and inform the team what models are expected via a basic Model Production Delivery Table (MPDT).
• Stage 2 (Concept Design) – BIM Execution Plan (BEP)
The IM produces the Pre- Contract BIM Execution Plan (BEP) with the Design Team. The BEP shows how the requirements of the EIR will be delivered. *A Common Data Environment (CDE) also needs to be established.
• Stage 3 (Developed Design) Model Production and Delivery Table (MPDT) & BIM Competency Assessment (BCA)
Develop the Model Production Delivery Table (MPDT) to include; models required, when, by whom and the Level of Information Need expected. BIM Competency Assessment Forms are established to evaluate potential Contractors.
Post-contract, it is suggested that the lead contractor should take responsibility for the information management. It may be prudent for the pre contract IM to be retained on the Client side in an advisory/monitoring role.
• Stage 4 (Technical Design) – CDE, BIM Execution Plan (BEP), Master Information Delivery Plan (MIDP)
*The IM establishes the CDE for use by the entire Project Team, and then develops the Post Contract BEP to show how his Delivery Team will deliver the requirements of the EIR and include the Master Information Delivery Plan (MIDP)
• Stage 5 (Construction) Project Information Model (PIM)
The IM federates the Project Information Model (PIM) by merging all of the models as required by the MPDT. Where models have been developed by a specialist (e.g. steelwork fabrication) these need to replace the Designer’s elements. *add clash detection
• Stage 6 (Handover & Close out) – Asset Information Model (AIM)
The IM then creates the Asset Information Model (AIM) ready for handover to FM. The AIM should be a true graphical representation of that constructed or a digital twin. Add metadata for maintenance purposes as required by the MPDT.
The Unwritten Duties of the Information Manager
In the standards we can read upon all the different duties and responsibilities a person or team are expected to fulfil, but as with most things its not always that straightforward, there may be some things that are not necessarily written into a document. For example, you may need to have certain talents, or skills in order to make you carry out your duties successfully. I’m going to go through some items that I found to be quite important.
We have been talking about managing information, but the information gets created by people, so essential skill to have is in being able to coordinate and manage the collective efforts of other people in producing and managing the digital representation of a building
The key word there is PEOPLE, because to be an Information Manager you must like working with people, you must like helping people and solving potential problems, and you need to have enough technical knowledge and skill about buildings and infrastructure as well as the technology or BIM to be able to communicate with people, understand what is expected from people, and help them resolve any potential problems, or at the very least, know how to get them resolved
Emotional intelligence is key here being able to be patient, focused, professional and not letting people steer away from the main objective. You need confidence to speak to people and strength of character to confront and address problems early with the am of achieving a solution.
Fair but Firm
Any person on the appointing party and appointed party will tell you the number one focus is getting the building built on schedule on budget and as safely as possible, and this is true. Along the process of getting things done there will be some on the team who may see certain BIM requirements and protocols as a sort of annoyance, almost getting in the way, knowing it has to be done but leaving it until the last minute possibly due to time constraints or pressure. I don’t think like this, but there will be some who do and its important to be understanding to these kinds of people but also to be reassuring that everything we are doing is not to put up roadblocks but infact to streamline the process. Being fair but also to be firm is essential in this role.
Facilitator for Collaboration
Personally I feel that Communication and Coordination together is true collaboration which has an important role to play in managing information. There is lots of people involved in creating graphical and non-graphical project information and this has to be collaborated. The information manager needs to be a facilitator for effective communication, coordination and collaboration, theres several methods, requirements and duties written in the standards to help us achieve effective collaboration, but its to make sure that we stick to this collaborative way of working and avoid silo working process
A good information manager cannot become complacent and let things be the same, we are in the age of digital transformation where things update and change faster than we realise.
The role requires you to monitor new trends and the potential for improvement on existing or current workflows and processes, to be able the test and develop new ways of doing things.
All of us here today are doing that by listening, watching discussing new ideas and concepts that we can take away and explore into our own ways of working. I think that’s very important
Who Should fulfil the Information Manager Role?
An analogy I can use is the manager of a Football Team. Since I was small, I’ve always been a big Chelsea fan, and Jose Mourinho was Chelsea’s most successful and most controversial manager. He wasn’t the world’s best footballer, but he was/is a great manager. As a great manager he ensures that each player on the team is playing their part. Making sure they know what to do, at the right time, in the right way, to win football matches, which is the result. While the manager is not required to play, he does need to be able to understand football, have great management skills and understand the function of the different players their strengths and weaknesses, statistics, and data to consistently win a football match
Technical Competency, is the ability to play football
Management Competency, is the ability to compose a consistently winning team
Should the role be undertaken inhouse or outsourced? That’s up for debate however Quite often the role of PIM is outsourced due to resourcing capacity. Teams occasionally cannot fulfil the role in house or possibly do not wish to.
What we have seen before is that Individuals in existing job roles, now assigned information management activities may consider these secondary in importance to their usual role when particularly busy or under pressure. This risk needs to be recognized and managed.
Recently we have seen an uptake in Appointing parties requesting the role is fulfilled by a third party, to avoid conflicts of interest amongst the appointed parties working on projects.
Now I might be a bit biased, as I am curently employed in a BIM consultancy practice, but I believe that having a BIM Consultant fulfilling this role is of benefit to all involved on the project, the consultancy should have the capability to deliver any training to team members and may have a better understanding of the process of information delivery in a BIM environment.
Thank you for reading, and keep an eye out for future articles.