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Part 1: Shifting Abbreviations – From BIM to IM

Sweco author: Andrew Krebs, Building Performance Digital Manager

Building Information Modelling, Better Information Modelling, Building Information Management, Better Information Management, you know the drill. As many different ways of defining BIM as you can imagine, many of them toe-curling and self-congratulatory and most of them as meaningless as the others.

BIM is dead, I wrote about that in the CIBSE Journal in 2018, at the time I made the point that we needed to move towards viewing what we do as digital engineering and not BIM, and that has largely been how we have moved from an engineering perspective. We were too focused on 3D modelling and not focused enough on creating designs which were brilliant. We were losing out on capability and possibility.

The time has come to make the final shift. The best BIM consultancy has always been a nicely balanced alliance of digital engineering and information management.

Before BIM we did the engineering pretty well, and there wasn’t very much digital information to manage. Deliverables were pretty much empty lines on paper/pdf, plus some words  and figures on specs, reports, schedules etc. We are still doing the engineering pretty well and we are digitising all the time. It’s not by any means the finished article (will this ever be so?) but the industry is moving well.

The second part, the information management is not quite so far along that path. Although recently have we started to understand that this burgeoning volume of digital data that we produce and choose to expose in the old forms of drawings, reports, schedules and so on, is actually worthy of concerted planning and maintenance, that when we do this, we end up with an increasingly richer dataset which ultimately governs the progress of the project from both the management and the engineering perspectives!

Now we are realising this: that our project quality plan is actually our information management plan, that our delivery plans are actually information management plans, that our deliverables are actually created and assured as a result of information management processes and, bluntly, that we won’t get paid unless we carry it out to a decent standard.

We are also starting to shape our businesses to adapt to these information management functions. This is really good news and shows that the effect of BS EN ISO19650 has been positive, despite its challenges in implementation, the benefits are starting to manifest.

I have to confess though, in the third paragraph, I told a lie. There is another shift required. It’s not a big one, but it’s perhaps the most significant and I may not make many friends with my next blog but it doesn’t stop it being right.

Contact Andrew.Krebs@sweco.co.uk to discuss all things Information Management