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The Mindset Reset: Evolving to full lifecycle Information Management

End-to-end Information Management – as a service – is driving an evolution in the construction sector. It forms the foundation for the creation of future-shaping Digital Twins that will revolutionise the way we not only work, but also interact with data on a societal basis.

Collaborating in the round…from inception to insight

Many businesses are beginning to understand the need to move away from utilising BIM as a data cache or visualisation tool alone. Instead, these forward-looking organisations are embracing the more holistic pairing of Information Management (IM) and Digital Engineering (DE) to achieve what they actually need: a full end-to-end, connected strategy from inception to invaluable insight.

IM from a design consultant’s perspective

The granular application of an integrated Information Management process is of course subjective – and thus will always be up for debate due to the complex variables at play in any given project-specific scenario. However, our collective experiences across multi-disciplinary Sweco delivery teams – along with learnings from our peers and other industries more mature in this arena – have helped us more efficiently shape a holistic framework for project management environments, which we are already implementing on transformational projects where end-to-end (and cyclical) information management is non-negotiable.

As Platinum Sponsors of last year’s BIM Coordinators Summit, we championed the belief that integrated Information Management processes lay the foundations for high performing project management controls in the digital era. Sound tested, end-to-end lifecycle IM workflows are paving the way for the next generation of reliable and accessible project information models which are crucial to informed decision-making and accurate performance monitoring.

This cohesive methodology provides the framework for full lifecycle integrated information management. Ultimately making way for tangible insights gained by all stakeholders. Many peers and partners share this view, and many clients are embracing it. But to help these businesses on the journey and educate others to follow suit, we need to do more as an industry to remove ambiguity and mixed messaging around the purpose of efficient IM on an enterprise level.

We must also work together – closely and constantly – to achieve the key integrations that will prove essential, between the palette of digital tools we choose to work with that enable meaningful interpretation and real world utilisation of the information we generate.

The Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation Programme (AIMP): Full lifecycle Information Management in action

One such integrated IM-dependent project – a core case study of our Client Stage discussions at BCS22 – is the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation Programme (AIMP), with Sweco appointed as lead design consultants for all aspects of building and infrastructure design packages. AIMP, by its very nature, demands accessible, measurable and reliable Information Management at every juncture. It is imperative that we facilitate the collection of accurate and structured project information data, deliver it to the right people at the right time – enabling confident decision-making by all project stakeholders in one of the most challenging project locations on earth.

The high-level internal project management environment above illustrates the process Sweco’s Special Interest Projects team follow – and continually assess/improve for AIMP. While bespoke to the unique needs of the British Antarctic Survey, the overarching logic and methodology reflects our core integrated approach to all projects which require effective, accurate IM throughout their lifecycle(s).

Considering (and connecting) all the elements of this process – versus the fragmented, disjointed partitioning of each stage that still prevails in many quarters – allows us to maximise the opportunity to capture project information from the point of project inception with minimum additional effort. Above all, early and ongoing discussions held between project teams allow all stakeholders to…

  1. Identify the purpose and intent behind all forms of information to be generated during the lifecycle of the given project.
  2. Identify the right people, processes and tools that will enable effective cohesion.
  3. Plan systems integration for seamless flow of information between multiple project environments.
  4. Implement exceptional reporting mechanisms weaved into your systems integration model.
  5. Introduce a robust Learning Management System that will empower the project teams to grow alongside the needs of the project.

Where integrated, full lifecycle IM is critical in Antarctica:

Improved workforce H&S and culture – on a large framework such as AIMP, using proven information management methodology enables the careful forward planning in all areas of design, construction and handover processes which ultimately empowers our workforce with the most cutting edge technology and knowhow to confidently deliver to our client’s needs. With the added bonus of efficient construction risk management that ensures the health & safety of our teams on the ground.

Improved compliance & enhanced collaboration – our Common Data Environment (CDE) is the focal point of the project information and enables effortless team coordination. It allows project managers to effectively strategise and implement collaboration among various team members with efficient distribution of project activities. This helps to establishing a framework for remote working, regardless of time zones.

Increased resilience & cost-efficiency – efficiently produced BIM models enable improved information productions rates. This boosts our productivity with better project insights, whether during the design & construction process or operations of the built asset.

Accurate construction planning – through efficient clash and risk management our models enable constructability meetings to monitor the progress of the project and maintain full control over the project and the team working on it, thus increasing its safety for both our team and our client. Project managers are able to assess when to book equipment, buy materials, hire specialists, coordinate among different activities, plan for a proper sequencing of events, and much more.

Assessing the asset data requirements for the FM teams – our models play a crucial role during the design and construction phases where asset data sets are generated, validated against client requirements and tested in the clients CAFM system to ensure the handover information being generated meets the client’s requirements.

Not just best practice, but better practice

Again, on a micro level there will always be discussions and opinion. But in keeping the full lifecycle front of mind from the outset, and continually building on our learnings within that mindset, we believe that all successful projects focus on the basic fundamentals of:

People – ensure our teams are capable, competent and compliant. Facilitate this through the deployment of a competency framework and a supporting Learning Management System (LMS).

Area of focus: One team ethos: health and wellbeing, independent learning, standards methods and procedures

Process – Be clear about the principles for delivery, that these principles are understood across the team, that new team members are inducted into the team and become familiar with the principles swiftly.

Areas of focus: Clear outcomes, realistic planning, priori tising people, managing complexity and risk; learning from experience.

Tools – The right authoring, checking and validation tools to efficiently manage the creation of project information. A common set of information production methods and procedures the whole project aligns with, central to collaborative working practices.

Areas of focus: Common Data Environments, discipline-specific authoring tools, open-source data formats to enable integration, automation of repetitive content generation, automation of seamless data validation, Learning Management Systems.

Scrutiny – using integrated Information Management processes to build in automated monitoring and reporting mechanisms. This crucially enables accurate and spontaneous regular performance checks at all levels. Create a hierarchy for reporting and responsibility, hold responsibility at the lowest effective level, this will offer greater agility.

Areas of focus: the correlation between project cost and lean delivery, exploiting new and emerging technologies to add value for money; releasing benefits from innovation both in construction and technology; using shared and open data to drive performance

Transforming society together

In summary, while we are doing lots of things well, the step change will come when we collectively do them within a Common Data Environment, within a circular methodology.

Our vision at Sweco is to build the industry-wide capability to create intuitive Digital Twins that have the capacity to inform decision making through automated reporting, using the very best of Artificial Intelligence. This will unlock powerful collaboration and lead to true insight. We believe the magic lies in connecting the people, processes and tools already (and yet to be) at our disposal, with a common language and approach to integration that enhances both the quality of information and its management.

To discuss true Information Management – what it is and how Sweco’s multi-disciplinary teams and digital transformers can help you access it with full lifecycle design consultancy – contact Megha below.