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Last edited 18 May 2016

1b: Preparation and brief (brief and information requirements)

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This is the second part of the 'Preparation and brief' stage (or 'Brief' in PAS 1192:2). It involves preparing documentation for the appointment of 'suppliers'.

These suppliers may be consultants appointed to design the development and perhaps to inspect works on site, or they may be an integrated supply team appointed to design, construct and perhaps even operate the development.

The employer needs to be aware that they are not only making appointments to design, construct and operate the proposed development, they are also procuring vital information that will be necessary to inform decisions during its development and operation, and this information requirement needs to be clearly defined.


Employer's information manager


If it has not already been done, an employer's information manager should be appointed, with initial responsibility for defining the employer's information requirements, establishing information standards methods and procedures and preparing an employer's information environment for the collection, verification, storage, and exploitation of information delivered by suppliers.


Project brief


A full project brief should be developed based on the strategic brief. The project brief is the key document upon which the design will develop.

In order to develop the project brief, the employer’s advisers will carry out consultations with user panels, champions and other stakeholders. This should include consultation with the operators of the completed development, if known, and the soft landings champion. If the operators are not known, it may be necessary to appoint external advisers.

Where possible, requirements set out in the project brief should be scheduled in a requirements management application or spreadsheet that is easy to interrogate and share and that might allow automatic validation of proposals as they develop. This should include measurable performance targets which can be tested, and an assessment of the consequences of targets being missed. Targets should be measured using standard metrics that are easy to compare with other projects.

The project brief will continue to evolve and become more detailed until the end of the concept design stage.


Employer's information requirements (EIR)


The employer's information requirements (EIR) define the information that will be required by the employer from their own internal team and from suppliers for the development of the project and the operation of the completed built asset. They ensure that appropriate information is created in a suitable format at the right time and are crucial to the successful adoption of building information modelling processes during the course of the project.

Relevant extracts from the employer's information requirements will be included in procurement documents for each tier 1 supplier (suppliers appointed directly by the employer), which may include; advisors, consultants, contractors and so on. Prospective suppliers respond to the employer's information requirements with a pre-contract BIM execution plan (BEP).

Employer’s information requirements usually include:

  • Standard methods and procedures providing clarity on information formats and naming conventions and guidance on how to supply information.
  • Information-related roles and responsibilities giving a clear definition of information-related roles and what is expected from them.
  • An information delivery plan or information schedule identifying which information deliverables should be delivered, by whom and when.
  • A COBie demand matrix identifying the structured data about the facility, floors, spaces, zones and building components that should be delivered, by whom and when.

The exact nature of the employer's information requirements will depend on the complexity of the project and the experience and requirements of the employer. Experienced employers may develop very detailed employer’s information requirements, whilst others may only set out high-level requirements, leaving the supplier to propose how the information requirements will be met.

The employer's interests will extend beyond design information, to information such as; construction sequencing (4D), cost (5D) and asset information at handover (6D). However, information should only be required where the employer will be able to use it to satisfy a business need, and where this need outweighs the cost of its preparation. Requiring too much information, or too soon, can incur unnecessary costs and can restrict options.

Employer's information requirements will become more detailed as the project progresses:

  • They start by identifying the required material, functional and performance information about facilities, floors and spaces.
  • As the design progresses they identify more specific requirements about the proposed systems and building components to support procurement.
  • By the end of the project they define the need for precise performance information to support the maintenance and operation of systems and components that are actually installed.

Preparing the employer's information requirements begins by developing an information requirements process map or digital plan of works (dPow). This will help identify key employer's decision points during the project and the questions they will need to answer at those decision points. Typically these decision points will be aligned to project stages.

The questions employers need to answer at these decision points should be set out as non-technical, plain language questions (PLQ’s) that everyone can understand. High-level questions might then be divided into component questions, and where possible these might be broken down further into questions that can be answered with specific information.

Employer's information requirements should be reviewed and updated at the end of each stage, and where extracts have been used as the basis of appointments, those extracts should be subject to change control.

NB The UK government-sponsored BIM Toolkit has been developed to support the production of employer's information requirements.


Employer's information systems and environments


If it has not already been done, the employer’s information manager should set up and configure an employer's information environment for the project. This is a digital collaboration area that may be located in the 'cloud' or an on-premise server, where project information defined in the employer's information requirements and supplied by tier 1 suppliers is exchanged, verified and stored.

It provides an employer-side document and data management system for the receipt, validation and approval of project information delivered by suppliers and is the single source of information about the project that the employer uses to make informed decisions.

The employer’s information environment is part of the extended common data environment (CDE) referenced in PAS 1192-2 which will also include the supply-side common data environment used by the project team.

Depending on the employer’s preferences, the supply-side common data environment can be set up and configured by the employer for the supply chain, but it is generally more appropriate to leave this responsibility with the tier 1 suppliers. Either way, responsibility for supplying and managing the supply-side common data environment should be clearly identified in the employer's information requirements.


BIM protocol


A BIM protocol (such as the freely-available CIC BIM protocol) sets out the contractual definition of information-related responsibilities, liabilities and limitations. It obliges suppliers to provide specified information in accordance with referenced aspects of the employer's information requirements.

A BIM protocol enables BIM to be mandated on a project using any form of appointment document or contract by the inclusion of a model enabling amendment clause.

Click here to see a diagram illustrating the relationship between the contractual documents for BIM.


Cost assessment


Before appointments are made, the initial cost appraisal should be developed into an elemental cost plan, including a pre-tender estimate and a cash flow projection, to verify that the project is affordable.

At this stage, the elemental cost plan may simply be the total construction cost for the project divided into elements on a percentage basis. This should be prepared in a spreadsheet format that is easy to interrogate and import into BIM costing software and should adopt a standard approach such as that defined by the new rules of measurement (NRM).


Employer’s decision point


The table below sets out examples of plain language questions that an employer might ask at this decision point and the information they might require to answer those questions.

Plain language questions Information required
Does the project brief still satisfy the requirements set out in the business case?

Has the project brief been developed in sufficient detail for concept design to begin?

Are the employer's information requirements developed sufficiently to make appointments?

Is the project affordable or is value management necessary?

Have roles and responsibilities been adequately defined?

Should appointments be made to design the development?

Are the necessary environments and systems in place?

Is any training necessary?

Project brief.

Employer's information requirements.

Elemental cost plan.


Next stage >> 1c: Preparation and brief (supplier appointments).


--PCSG