What is the @thenbs Digital Plan of Works? #BIM discussion

Introduction – what is the digital works?

The National Building Specification Digital Plan of Works (DPoW) is an online tool that facilitates the process of Building Information Modelling (BIM), in particular relating to the works stage requirements of a project and linking to the 2013 RIBA Plan of Works (Toolkit.thenbs.com, 2015). It has been described that the DPoW “sets out progressive data needs linked to a set of plain language questions to allow you to check the rationale for requesting certain information to provide a consistent, holistic view of the data definition and use as it relates to all sectors, project stages and stakeholders”  Bimdevelopment.bimregionalhubs.org, 2015).  The BIM Task Group has stated that the DPoW is needed as “(to) effectively procure data a new approach is required to operate at Level 2 with the existing contractual models” (BIM – The Digital Plan of Work & Assembly, 2015, p.8).

The DPoW is a “unified classification system” that can:

  • Confirm information requirements.
  • Bring together a project team, define project deliverables and confirm roles and responsibilities.
  • Ensure that the information delivery follows the RIBA work stages in a digital format.
  • Use a library of definition templates that confirms the Level of Detail for the Work Stages and utilises the unified classification system, Unicalss 2015.
  • Verify when information has been delivered to the client, by identifying objects that are correctly classified and ensuring that the data required is included

(Designingbuildings.co.uk, 2015)

In order to establish the criteria for data needs at particular stages, Plain Language Questions (PLQs) are needed which a client will ask on a BIM project.  In order to give clarity to the design team responding to a project, clients will have to demonstrate their criteria for what they need in relation to the asset and information required to be ‘linked’, or provided, with this.  The DPoW can also be used to align tasks to the roles responsible for delivering this service at each project stage from the EIR.  This latter point is crucial for an intelligent tool that digitises the work stage process.

The DPoW is an initial attempt by the government to facilitate the creation of a tool that confirms digitally how data is defined, tested and is to be used by the project teams, the supply chain and the public client (BIM – The Digital Plan of Work & Assemblies, 2015). Clients will need to be able to check what has been delivered at the end of a project, as a BIM project will have more complex information deliverables than a traditionally procured project in an analogue/traditional procurement system (BIM – The Digital Plan of Work & Assemblies, 2015).  In order to do this the client will ask for information that is required at each stage of projects and this simplifies the existing need for “Plans of Work”, “Scopes of Service” and “Duties.  The DPoW also offers the ability to confirm the Level of Detail and Level of Definition at each stage.  One of the reasons that this is required is that the PAS 1192:2 (BSI, 2013, p.33) does not offer enough clarity on the two areas.

  1. Level of Detail – The level of geometric information a model should exhibit
  2. Level of Definition – The Level of data maturity a model data set should exhibit

(BIM – The Digital Plan of Work & Assemblies, 2015)

A key principle of the DPoW is that a project stage cannot be completed until all the deliverables have been confirmed as at a common level of definition (BIM – The Digital Plan of Work & Assemblies, 2015, p. 11).  This means that an individual (Information Manager most likely) will have to lead the completion and monitoring of the DPoW and this is expected to be someone from the design team.  This role will be crucial to ensure that a project  moves from stage to stage in an authorised manner.

PAS 1192:2 (BSI, 2013) confirms that levels of definition should be defined in the EIR and Construction Industry Council (CIC) BIM Protocol and also states that the “level of graphical information and data to be delivered at each information exchange will be defined with reference to industry standards” (BSI, 2013 P.33). The DPoW represents the development of this industry standard and the BIM Execution Plan (BEP) will then articulate these levels of definition for the whole of the design team to understand.  This means that the DPoW needs to inform the EIR creation and also the BEP response under particular headings and will be completed by the client team and the consultant team (depending on the stage). The DPoW is the articulation of the project delivery stages and the level of detail/definition that needs to be delivered by each supplier/discipline to the employer at any point in time (BIM – The Digital Plan of Work & Assemblies, 2015, p. 15).

An area for development is the interdisciplinary Design Responsibility Matrix (DRM), this is linked to the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Plan of Work 2013 (Ribaplanofwork.com, 2013) which proposes that all parties in a project team should have their responsibilities clarified. Traditionally this has been contractually produced within the construction contract to date (Sinclair, 2015).  This will need to change and the DPoW proposes the use of PAS 1192:2 (BSI, 2013) and BS 1192:2016 (BSI, 2016) which establishes the technical delivery and the DRM as a tool to guide project development as outputs per work stage.  The ambition here is that all parties understand the definition of what is to be delivered and what the information is to be used for.  An issue with this is that there are no specific standards to support the DRM, therefore the DPoW uses the “BSRIA BG6 Guide, American Institute of Architects E202 BIM Protocol Exhibit, and the more recent Level of Development Specification 2013 prepared by the US BIMForum” (Lockeley, 2015). There is clearly more work is required here to be integrated into the DPoW. 

Which Project documents does the DPoW contribute to?

Based on the information above, the documentation requirements for project work appear to link to a number of documents these include; the EIR, the BEP and the BIM standards. 

  1. EIR

The EIR goals and objectives, definitions etc. will be contributed to by the DPoW and under sub-section 1.1.4 of an EIR standard CIC EIR document (Hamil, 2015).  In addition to this a deliverables timelines in relationship to project stages and information exchanges will be used by the DPoW. 

  1. BIM Execution Plan

The BIM Execution Plan includes the need for “quality assurance, validation and non-redundancy techniques for the digital assets produced” and the DPoW will contribute to this.  In particular with the verification of the modelled information and how this is linked to Uniclass 2 classification.

  1. BIM Standards

This document requires “supply chain management, details of different roles and responsibilities (and their levels) at different stages”, and therefore the DPoW will provide this information. Roles and responsibilities at different stages of the project. Traditionally this would have been produced as a standalone document but the DPoW provides the opportunity for a digitised version of this which will be able to be shared across the team in a more fluid manner. 

Issues and limitations of the website

There are some areas for concern on the DPoW website which may limit how the information is able to be shared and altered.  For example the website states that; “You must not modify the paper or digital copies of any materials you have printed off or downloaded in any way, and you must not use any illustrations, photographs, video or audio sequences or any graphics separately from any accompanying text” (Toolkit.thenbs.com, 2015).  This is a constraint to any team wishing to use the information for their own purposes on their own projects, in a bespoke way.  It is expected that the DPoW is not a refined resource at present as it has come out of the Beta testing stage early in 2015, and therefore the ability for design teams and clients to be able to alter this appears to be something that should be allowable, particularly to provide useful feedback for further development.

In addition to this there is a further conflict regarding privacy as the website states that any “content you upload to our site will be considered non-confidential and non-proprietary. You retain all of your ownership rights in your content, but you are required to grant us and other users of the site a limited licence to use, store and copy that content and to distribute and make it available to third parties” (Toolkit.thenbs.com, 2015).  This would appear to conflict with the requirements of 1192:5 Specification for security-minded building information modelling, digital built environments and smart asset management (BSI, 2015) as a project which is sensitive should not be open to be shared in such a manner.  This therefore creates a serious quandary for how project information of this kind can utilise the DPoW and be shared across teams who may be working on projects which are highly sensitive; for example nuclear power stations and infrastructure projects. 


The DPoW provides supporting information for three key areas; the EIR, the BIM standards, and the BIM Execution Plan. It may be that other documentation could be supported by the DPoW, however these three documents appear to be the main areas that it supports. The last area of discussion in regard to the terms and conditions of the website appear to have material constraints on how information is uploaded and whether it should be used by project teams working on sensitive projects. The DPoW is in early stages of use and there will be feedback and further development of this interface as users encounter more issues and therefore this may begin to resolve the limitations that currently exist.


Bimdevelopment.bimregionalhubs.org, (2015). Digital Plans of Work Overview. [online] Available at: http://bimdevelopment.bimregionalhubs.org/digital-plan-of-work-overview [Accessed 27 Dec. 2015].

British Standards Institute, (2016). BS 1192:2007+A2:2016 Collaborative production of architectural, engineering and construction information – Code of practice. London: BSI
British Standards Institute, (2016).

PAS 1192:2 , (2013). Specification for information management for the capital/delivery phase of construction projects using building information modelling. London: BSI, (2013)

British Standards Institute, (2015). PAS 1192:5 Specification for security-minded building information modelling, digital built environments and smart asset management. London: BSI

Building Information Modelling – The Digital Plan of Work & Assemblies. (2015). 1st ed. [ebook] London: BIM Task Group, p.8. Available at: http://www.bimtaskgroup.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/BIM-The-Digital-Plan-of-Work-v7-1.pdf  [Accessed 27 Dec. 2015].

Designingbuildings.co.uk, (2015). BIM toolkit. [online] Available at: http://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/BIM_toolkit  [Accessed 27 Dec. 2015].

Hamil, S. (2015). NBS BIM Toolkit to support enhanced EIR. [online] Planning & Building Control Today. Available at: http://planningandbuildingcontroltoday.co.uk/bim-today-002/nbs-bim-toolkit-support-enhanced-eir-3/18504/  [Accessed 27 Dec. 2015].

Kell, A. and Mordue, S. (2015). Levels of definition – Technical Support – NBS BIM Toolkit. [online] Toolkit.thenbs.com. Available at: https://toolkit.thenbs.com/articles/levels-of-definition [Accessed 16 Dec. 2015].

Lockeley, S. (2015). Verification. [online] Toolkit.thenbs.com. Available at: https://toolkit.thenbs.com/articles/verification  [Accessed 27 Dec. 2015].

Mordue, S. and Kell, A. (2015). Levels of definition. [online] Toolkit.thenbs.com. Available at: https://toolkit.thenbs.com/articles/levels-of-definition  [Accessed 27 Dec. 2015].

Ribaplanofwork.com, (2013). RIBA Plan of Work. {online} available at: http://www.ribaplanofwork.com/ [Accessed 27 Dec. 2015].

Sinclair, D. (2015). The RIBA Plan of Work 2013 and BIM. [online] Thenbs.com. Available at: http://www.thenbs.com/topics/bim/articles/RIBAPlanOfWork2013andBIM.asp  [Accessed 27 Dec. 2015].

Toolkit.thenbs.com, (2015). NBS BIM Toolkit. [online] Available at: https://toolkit.thenbs.com/  [Accessed 27 Dec. 2015].

Toolkit.thenbs.com, (2015). Website terms and conditions. [online] Available at: https://toolkit.thenbs.com/legal/websites-terms-and-conditions  [Accessed 27 Dec. 2015].t




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