Last edited 17 Jun 2019

Information management

Information management is crucial in facilitating the smooth running of construction projects. It is defined as collecting, storing, distributing, archiving and deleting/destroying information. Efficient information management should be centrally managed and allows all parties to a construction contract to manage their time, resources and expertise in the most effective way for the benefit of the project, thereby helping to minimise delays and cost overruns. Typically, information management is achieved through purpose-built information management systems.

In the course of a construction project, consultants, clients, local authorities, contractors and subcontractors generate huge amounts of information, these days much of it is in digital format. Storing information in this format is easier compared to hard copy documents, papers, drawings, letters, invoices and other by-products of the construction process. Once stored efficiently, information can increase value by allowing the management, planning, organising, structuring, processing, controlling, evaluating and reporting to take place in a more efficient way. Information can be then used for the benefit of the project; once used, the information increases in value. However, the information that is stored must be understood if it is to emerge as useful knowledge and allow effective decisions – and then appropriate actions – to be taken.

The first step in information management is creating or collecting information such as capturing the client’s requirements, expressing the brief, formulating initial responses and solutions. This will be followed by architectural concept sketches, formal plans, which are then supplemented by designs from other consultants, such as engineers, surveyors, contractors and sub-contractors. Depending on requirements, some stakeholders may also have rights to access or input information.

On some projects, a common data environment (CDE) is created as the single source of information. This is used to collect, manage and disseminate documentation, the graphical model and non-graphical data for the whole project team (i.e. all project information whether created in a BIM environment or in a conventional data format). On small projects, the CDE may simply be a collection of folders on a server or could be a web-based file-sharing application such as Dropbox.

Even on large projects relying on sophisticated software, during the early stages it might simply be a matter of creating folders in which files are stored. The files might be named in accordance with a standard naming protocol such as that outlined in BS 1192:2007 (now replaced by BS EN ISO 19650).

If building information modelling (BIM) is being used on a project, it will allow project (or asset) information from one or more sources (e.g architect, structural engineer, services engineer, contractor, sub-contractor, suppliers etc) to be amalgamated into a single complete model of the building (a ‘federated model’). This will allow easy access for everyone, including the client and contractor, to a unified, universal, up-to-date information source that allows changes to be made in real time and avoids the pitfalls of partial or inconsistent updating.

Good information management should make the management of a project less complex, time consuming and costly.

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki