The Golden

Why effective project information management is at the core of achieving “the Golden Thread”?

London, UK - Published February 10th 2021

The Grenfell disaster and the resulting independent review of the building and fire safety regulations have highlighted the need for better information management – essentially good record keeping - at every stage of a building project.

Of the more than 50 recommendations made by Dame Judith Hackitt’s review, some of the key ones specifically relate to the management of documents pertaining to the entire lifecycle of a building – from design, through construction, to handover and ongoing management

The “Golden Thread”

“I want the industry to recognise and respond to the need for a digital Golden Thread of information that is an essential part of delivering improvements in building safety.”

Poor record keeping, lack of rigour in change control and loss of data - has led to a lack of available data at handover which was identified by the review as a key risk to building safety.

Surprised by the lack of complete, accurate or up-to-date information kept and provided at handover, the Hackett review specified that a “golden thread” of building information for the entire project must be maintained digitally and where appropriate, made accessible to key stakeholders – including residents once a building is occupied. The reality is that the ability to capture information that is standardised, in a consistent format and accessible to the multiple stakeholders involved in a project, is a huge challenge for the industry. Through the lifecycle of an AEC project, there are a multitude of stakeholders involved - creating thousands of project information assets in varied formats, applying their own document management processes and protocols, filing systems, naming conventions and business rules to create, manage and share these assets. Or worse, there isn’t a protocol at all and individuals are just doing their own thing.

With such a complex web of stakeholders, documentation, touchpoints, processes, and systems –coupled with a lack of standardisation - the potential for crucial documents, communications, and the records of milestone decisions to be missing or lost is huge.

The review acknowledges these challenges and makes a recommendation for the adoption of Building Information Modelling (BIM) to support the attainment of this Golden Thread of information. This is good advice! The BIM process as defined in the UK framework applies a focus on effective information management through the project lifecycle – which inherently helps to avoid the loss of data at handover points, improves accountability for decision making and provides more comprehensive digital information that can be passed over to the landlord.The correct implementation of the BIM process can help to ensure that information is created in an appropriate, sharable format at the right time to enable better record keeping and decision making throughout the design, construction, and operation of a project.

Essentially, the Golden Thread is the project critical ‘information’ for a project, and although applying the BIM framework can help to create a digital information trail, there are other tools available to help organisations to manage, share and handover information assets more effectively and crucially digitally.A robust project information management (PIM) system, that can be applied by multiple stakeholders across the project lifecycle will also become a must have in order to deliver the Golden Thread.

The criteria for a PIM system that can support design and construction businesses to meet the requirement should include:

  • - Be Cloud based and integrate with other core business software, such as Microsoft365
  • - Align with BIM led projects
  • - Enforce document naming standards globally, locally or by project
  • - Record version history, access, and transmittal information
  • - Provide document templates and project standardisation

Achieving the Golden Thread – and reducing the risk associated with poor record keeping – will rely on widespread, consistent adoption of BIM as well as robust information management tools to help with this challenging period of increased regulation and change. But is change that must happen.

Given the inherent complexity of AEC projects and the new legislative and regulatory regime in play, as a direct outcome of the Hackett review, there is an imperative for all the stakeholders involved in a project to review and make changes to their information management practices. The creation of a new regulatory body, the Joint Competent Authority (JCA) and a new Building Safety Bill (tabled in 2020) will make recommendations that will soon become a legal imperative. Even though the strict application of the reports recommendations is limited to high-rise residential buildings, it makes sense for organisations to adopt the inherent digital best practice across the board.

So, the AEC industry is at a pivotal transition point – the need for review, change and the adoption of new ways of working are unavoidable. It is time to embrace digital and be accountable for every document and decision.

If you want to take the pain out of PIM, get in touch to set up a demo for Atvero.

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