A Facility Owner’s Guide: Leverage the “I” in BIM Project Delivery

09/19/2012 | By Michael Ruiz

BIM is becoming an increasingly important tool in the facility manager's arsenal.

Operating and maintaining high performance buildings requires a sophisticated organization. With careful preparation and planning, these facilities can work wonders. Taking care of them requires a well-managed project delivery system, complex business processes and an expert operation and maintenance (O&M) team.


Architects, engineers and contractors have long embraced BIM, but ultimately the BIM models they create will belong to the building owners. As such, it is imperative that they have organizational processes and technology-enabled tools to facilitate the transfer of information from design and construction to operations. Together, these processes and tools will enable reporting and calculation of the “big data” they gather. We refer to this concept of project delivery as the Integrated Model State, or IMS.


The central component of the IMS is the BIM Data Specification. This document outlines the owner’s BIM project information requirements for the design and construction teams and other service providers. These requirements identify the owner as the primary data consumer and the project delivery team as the primary data author. In this specification, all major tasks and deliverables associated with the creation and delivery of BIM data are described for the AEC community.


Articulating BIM requirements is only half of the battle


To fully realize the promise of BIM, owners must also learn how to organize model data as it arrives. This means extracting and validating model data, managing the process of making changes and, finally, leveraging that data toward business goals and objectives. An information exchange platform enables facility owners to extend their business processes and workflows to their mobile devices and to their business partners using industry standards. Utilizing an information exchange across project stakeholders enables easy collaboration across systems and companies.


Ultimately, success depends on having sound business processes, tools and protocols for collaboration. For now, let us consider the IMS as a framework in which specific applications assist owner BIM processes and workflows.


The IMS framework


  • Step 1:  BIM Process Planning

This interactive web-based BIM process-planning tool helps the project team execute projects more efficiently. It captures the project planning, model and component data established in the data survey tool and sets the critical path for assigning roles, contacts, disciplines, risk, schedule and level of development criteria, according to the AIA E202 specification, to the actions required to assist the owner in managing the delivery of integrated projects.


  • Step 2:  Data Survey

The data survey tool provides validation for owners to identify specific BIM components associated with a unique project. The tool encourages confirmation between the owner’s project management team and consultants. Spatial and component data are mapped to multiple industry classification standards. It is a collection tool that provides feedback from the O&M team to consultants to confirm items in the model that will one day require maintenance or tracking. This step in the process creates the data dictionary for the project and enables and assists COBie deliverables.

  • Step 3:  Data Extraction

A key component of the Integrated Model State is data extraction. Its purpose is to pull targeted project information from BIM that correlates object-level parameters defined in the data survey exported to COBie format for validation and approval by the owner PM team. Data extracted from the models assist in the creation of the required BIM and COBie deliverables.


  • Step 4:  BIM Validation

Used by the owner team to measure and validate the integrity of data produced by consultants, the BIM validation tool shows the owner a gap analysis between the data survey and model component data. If discrepancies exist, notifications will be sent to project stakeholders for corrections or clarifications. Empowering the owner project management team with the ability to validate BIMs encourages a level of authority and awareness that simplifies processes and helps to get information into the core repository to extend the owner approval process.

The information exchange platform approach leads to sound facility data for owners


Building owners require clear project delivery strategies, data management processes and workflows that ensure quality control actions to manage project information. It is imperative that owners have tools to facilitate project delivery from design and construction to operations. BIM project validation, the information exchange platform, owner PM teaming, project delivery, and mobility are the basis of the integrated model state.


The owner’s interest in using BIM to manage their facilities better leads to the development of new roles and responsibilities. A systematic approach to BIM for facilities management promotes connections to corporate real estate business objectives, operations management, data interoperability of systems, building automation controls and physical devices to link these objectives together in a smarter way.


Michael Ruiz is Vice President of BIM Strategies, Applied Software

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