BIM - client holds the key

Dave Monswhite

Associate Director

Using information from BIM to inform decision-making

In a challenging delivery environment, access to objective, relevant and accurate information is crucial to improve the agility of decision-making. New technology and collaborative approaches, such as building information modelling (BIM), are key to achieving this quality of information, but they are often underutilised.

A building that is mass-modelled in BIM from the start allows you to objectively demonstrate whether the concept is worth progressing. If so, you can start populating the model with more detail about individual objects, for example the doors, heating systems and windows, as long as these have been defined from the outset.

This can shorten overall design times because you're developing the right solution earlier. An accurate mass-model allows cost managers to understand more about details like wall-to-floor ratios and so develop a robust early cost estimate. Strong information management also helps you to understand the capital and operational expenditure implications of your decisions and leads to improved quality through minimised rework.There can also be an enormous programme-wide impact, for example across multiple train station redevelopments. Consistently naming and structuring information objects across every model allows you to make comparisons, find design commonality, take advantage of buying economies or even understand the implications of lead times across multiple sites.

Effectively informing decision-making

Clients looking to extract maximum value from their investments should ensure they are using credible information to inform their decision-making – today and in future. Here are some tips for those starting out on this journey:

1. Control your scope of service
Successful information management starts with the scope of service that clients set out. Take control of this before you appoint and you will get the information that you need to make informed decisions. If you use the scope of service that you’ve always used, then you’ll receive the traditional outputs that you’ve had in the past.
2. Consider your project holistically
Identify and resolve any disconnect between those commissioning, designing or building an asset and those ultimately operating it – bring the teams, and their budgets, closer together. Involve your operational team early in the design process so that it doesn’t have to wait to discover information about an incredibly complex asset at handover.
3. Collect your FM information early
Gather your facilities management data at the start, even if it’s just the basics. Use a methodology such as the new BS 1192-4 that provides parameters for gathering information about every object. Collect it even if you don’t know how to use it yet – you’re likely to need it in the future. This will avoid the need to revisit old projects to gather information.
4. Involve your cost managers sooner
 Effective information management means cost management isn’t last in the chain. Cost managers should work alongside designers to ensure that affordability is factored into the early design process. Make your project gateways more about affirmation of progress, not about asking “can we go through?”
5. Control your data environment
Use a common data environment where all structured information is stored and exchanged during design and operation. If you value your information, take control of it and pay for it, don’t rely on a third party. If a third party controls it, what happens if there’s a disagreement and they block your access to the information?
Technology and data