Is a Project Manager right for the role of an Information Manager? #BIM discussion

This blog discusses the BIM Task Group recommendation that the project lead or design team leader may be the most appropriate individual for the role for Information Manager.  The role of the Information Manager is defined specifically within the Construction Industry Council (CIC) Information Manager (CIC, 2013) document and this will be investigated to understand whether a Project Manager may be more suitable for the role Information Manager.  Further areas for discussion include whether the role of Project Manager and BIM Manager may combine; it will be discussed that this will depend on what the BIM Manager role is and what the Project Manager role is in relation to this.

There are three documents that define the need for an Information Manager for information management; these are PAS 1192:2 (BSI, 2013), the BIM Protocol (CIC, 2013) and the CIC Information Manager Scope of Services for the Role of Information Management (CIC, 2013).  The PAS 1192:2 document includes information on the activities of information management throughout the document.  The BIM Protocol (2013) confirms that the employer should appoint someone to perform the role of Information Management and scope of this service should be defined at appointment, which is a very clear directive and has an implication on who can perform this role.  The CIC Information Manager document (CIC, 2013) proposes an outline scope of services for the role of the Information Manager and it is worth acknowledging that the Information Manager role is not a separate appointment but should be “delivered as part of an existing appointment by a capable resource” (CIC, 2013, p. iv).  Therefore, it is clear from the CIC that they propose that any person as part of the project team, if they are ‘capable’, can perform the role of the Information Manager.    However, due to the specific nature of the role in managing not only information and modelling but also the Common Data Environment (CDE), information model integrity and security, validation and collaborative working requirements, it would appear that this individual would need a thorough understanding of the requirements and ideally would have performed them previously. This would suggest that an architect, engineer, or technician, who may have experience working within project delivery previously, would be well placed to undertake role due to previous experience.  Project ‘information management’ does form part of the role for Project Managers and therefore this is slightly different from a consultant experience traditionally.  Therefore, the suggestion that the CIC have made for the project lead to be the Information Manager appears to be useful guidance as they will have experience of project management as well as information and modelling management processes. This may change over time though as understanding and skills develop in BIM delivery.

Malone (2014) explains that many Project Managers have failed to understand what BIM is about, and argues for an ’informed Project Manager’ related to BIM.  Malone goes on to say that the Project Manager can perform a key role in creating the correct conditions for BIM i.e. “clarity about outcomes; alignment of working methods, exchange requirements and standards across the project team; and crucially an environment in which collaborative and co-ordinated working can thrive” (Malone, 2014).  Malone argues the Project Managers can be central to the delivery of a successful BIM project, however this will depend on the level of engagement and further training for Project Managers to achieve the requisite level of understanding.

There has been a suggestion that the role of Information Manager should be neutral in order to avoid fragmentation across a project team and a focus on project deliverables and how to achieve this (Rapid5d.com, n.d.). Rapid 5D in this article propose themselves as Information Manager which is another option i.e. a specialist software provider performing the role. However, this would appear to contradict Faulkner’s (2015) suggestion that an Information Manager be appointed to the project from the outset.  It is unlikely a software provider will be able tobe apponted from the outset.  Saxon (2014) has argued that in regard to alternative professions performing the role of the Information Manager that the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Certification scheme is a useful qualification to quantify skills, however he also questions whether the design management role and the quantity surveyor role are able to merge as limited technological understanding may hamper effectiveness.  This suggests that maybe certain disciplines are more suited to the role of Information Manager.

Barrett proposes that Project Managers, as individuals responsible for governance on a project, could be well placed to take on an information management role as they are ultimately responsible for the success or failure of a project and have the ability to plan, implement and finish a project (Barrett, n.d).  In addition to this their input from the very start of the project, particularly in relation to the Employers Information Requirements (EIR) means that they will need to understand the CDE from the outset, would be beneficial as they will have a broader view of the project aims and goals.  Faulkner (2015) also discusses that the appointment of the Information Manager is required from the outset to advise the client and the BIM route that the project will take. Faulkner (2015) argues that a specialist BIM consultant or a design consultant can perform the Information Manager role and suggests there are advantages and disadvantages to each.  Faulkner (2015) explains, in his experience, that performing the role of Information Manager as part of a traditional procurement is simpler to embed the processes.  This means that the possible procurement route may change how the information management role is performed, as well as if this changes throughout the work stages.

Jackson (2016) has recently reviewed information management and proposes that contract type can affect the Information Manager role, for example in a contractor led project, the main contractor will take on the Information Manager role however for a traditional project which is design team led this role will most likely be performed by a member of the design team.    Jackson confirms that whoever performs the role should be suitably skilled and hold requisite expertise to deliver the role (Jackson, 2016).  Interestingly Bond Bryan Architects offer Information Manager role as a service and this article proposes to future clients that they can perform this role.  This demonstrates that the industry is changing and different ways of performing the role of Information Manager will emerge.

The arguments above illustrate that there are  different views on who should perform the information management role on a BIM project.  Further research has identified that the Information Manager has been defined as a ‘procedural gatekeeper” and that they are not a BIM coordinator and have no design responsibility (Designingbuildings.co.uk, 2016). This procedural gatekeeper term appears to align with the concept of a Project Manager as they are a “specialist advisor that represents the client and is responsible for the day-to-day management of a project” (Designingbuildings.co.uk, 2016).  The role of the Project Manager should be to maintain progress and efficient interfacing of the project team to reduce “risk of failure, maximises benefits and controls cost” (Designingbuildings.co.uk, 2016). This illustrates that the Project Manager performing the role of Information Manager may not be ideal as their priorities are slightly different in this context and this article particularly explains they are not part of the consultant team whereas the Information Manager role is very much embedded into the project delivery team and should be appointed specifically by the client (CIC, 2013).

Would the roles of Project Manager and BIM Managers possibly merge?  Or would the BIM Manager, as a subject matter expert, assist the Project Manager?

Jackson (2016) discusses the term ‘BIM Information Manager’ and confirms that his view is that this individual should be managing all of the project information not just the information derived from a model, i.e. the Information Manager role.  In contrast, the BIM Manager is usually a position within a company that will be implementing BIM methodologies across as range of organisational needs such as planning, staff, IT hardware and software, and skills development, etc. as well as specific project requirements.  The Project Manager has been discussed earlier as an individual responsible for the governance on a project, this is therefore a specific role to a project, whereas a BIM Manager covers an organisational role, and therefore it appears incongruous to merge the two roles. However, it would appear that the BIM Manager could develop from their own organisational role into a Project Manager and this has been demonstrated within a number of companies recently; Turner and Townsend have Project BIM Managers who are BIM conversant and can develop projects whilst acting as a client appointed part of the team (BIM – Global handbook, 2014 p.16).

Therefore, if the role of Project Manager and BIM Manager are compared this is clearly different from the role of Information Manager, i.e. the latter is a role on a project appointed by the client.  Critically, the Information Manager should be an individual who understands the principles for the project delivery which would suggest that either a Project Manager, design consultant or BIM specialist could be used if they have the requisite skills and meet the needs of a project.

References

Barrett, J. (n.d.). BIM: Why Project Managers are perfect for the role of Information Manager? – Evolution5. [online] Evolution5.co.uk. Available at: http://evolution5.co.uk/BIM-why-project-managers-are-perfect-for-the-role-of-information-manager/  [Accessed 13 Mar. 2016].

BIM Global handbook. (2014). 1st ed. [ebook] London: Turner and Townsend. Available at: http://www.turnerandtownsend.com/bim/_22866.html  [Accessed 13 Mar. 2016].

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

CIC, (2013). BUILDING INFORMATION MODEL (BIM) PROTOCOL. London: CIC.

CIC, (2013). OUTLINE SCOPE OF SERVICES FOR THE ROLE OF INFORMATION MANAGMENT. London: CIC.

Designingbuildings.co.uk. (2016). BIM Information Manager – Designing Buildings Wiki. [online] Available at: http://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/BIM_information_manager  [Accessed 13 Mar. 2016].

Designingbuildings.co.uk. (2016). Project Manager – Designing Buildings Wiki. [online] Available at: http://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Project_manager  [Accessed 13 Mar. 2016].

Faulkner, S. (2015). The importance of an Information Manager. [online] Bimplus.co.uk. Available at: http://www.BIMplus.co.uk/people/importa5nce-inf5ormation-mana7ger/  [Accessed 13 Mar. 2016].

Jackson, R. (2016). Client BIM briefing note: Information Management role | Bond Bryan BIM. [online] Bimblog.bondbryan.com. Available at: http://bimblog.bondbryan.com/client-bim-briefing-note-information-management-role/  [Accessed 13 Mar. 2016].

Malone, A. (2014). BIM and the informed Project Manager. [online] Building. Available at: http://www.building.co.uk/bim-and-the-informed-project-manager/5066570.article  [Accessed 13 Mar. 2016].

Rapid5d.com. (n.d.). Rapid 5D | BIM Information Manager. [online] Available at: http://www.rapid5d.com/services/BIM-information-manager/  [Accessed 13 Mar. 2016].

Saxon, R. (2014). Can a surveyor fill the BIM Information Manager role?. [online] Building. Available at: http://www.building.co.uk/can-a-surveyor-fill-the-BIM-information-manager-role?/5071171.ariicle  [Accessed 13 Mar. 2016].

 

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