A Micro SME PAS1192:2-2013 and the Curate’s egg

It can be an unforgiving existence being a solo practitioner. Sitting looking at the same four walls, day in day out, the moniker “lonely BIM” seems very apt. In that context, understanding and applying documentation produced to underpin and assist with realisation of UK Government’s 2016 BIM mandate (the so called eight pack) seems a world away from the relentless cycle of working up client briefs, waiting forever while projects snail through the planning process, getting the bills out and keeping the bank at bay.

Graham Paterson Core Group Member

Having said that, most consultants and small contractors we deal with are now working digitally in some shape or form. BIM or no BIM, applying BS1192-2007 to, the management of digital files seems to click as a protocol for structuring and managing data flows between disciplines.

The primary functions of the PAS 1192-2: 2013 document were to support the Government’s aspirations with digitisation of construction and provide more general industry guidance in setting out a framework for collaborative working and information management on BIM enabled projects. As far as the BIM Task Group is concerned, BS 1192: 2007 and the later PAS1192-2: 2013 were mutually inter-dependent as benchmark protocols which support the Government’s BIM strategy and migration of firms from lonely BIM towards Level 2 competencies.

Two years on from publication of the UK Government’s 2011 Construction Strategy, the genesis and evolution of PAS 1192-2:2013 as a BIM protocol marked an industry watershed for the management of digital data. The essence of PAS 1192-2: 2013 was to present UK construction with a template for doing collaborative BIM. Most significantly, the guidance set out a matrix of key principles and practical actions for applying Level 2 BIM to projects. The PAS authors argued their document offered equal value to small practices and large multi-nationals.

Although development of the PAS suite was informed by a consultative process, there is little published evidence that the draft standards were road tested in the field among SME and micro organisations. In some ways, mapping out UK construction’s response to the PAS 1192-2:2013 is like a frontier-land; the territory is largely uncharted, there is little tradition and/or knowledge base to draw from for small projects. Two schools of thought have emerged, mainly through blog commentaries and online discussions.

The first is that the structure of PAS 1192-2: 2013 incorporates some flexibility of interpretation when applied to building and/or infrastructure developments. The second perspective suggests that if the PAS is not used “as is”, different interpretations across the industry will result in dilution of meaning and lack of consistency in project specific applications of the standard. We are inclined towards the first viewpoint and to some extent, evidence trawled from BIM4SME’s industry clinics supports that argument.

From a reader’s perspective, PAS 1192-2: 2013 is not a hugely challenging document to navigate through. It is quite lengthy and does introduce roles and administrative layers for information management which may not necessarily fit with small project requirements and/or workflows. Also there are some aspects of the PAS which seem more clearly defined than others. Level of Detail/Definition (LOD) is one key area which would benefit from more work and specific guidance for practitioners. At this point in time, the concept of LOD seems ahead of industry’s ability to deliver on the detail.

PAS 1192-2: 2013 is riddled with acronyms, but pushing these to one side, ascertaining a client’s information requirements from the outset of a project is not rocket science. Clearly, some clients may be more interested in post-handover aspects of information management than others. For a housing association with a significant maintenance portfolio, efficient post-handover information management is a given. While a commercial developer might have little interest in the maintenance phase and may be intent on selling on an asset as quickly as possible after completion.

Perhaps significantly, the director of one architectural practice reflected that with BIM, his firm were less inclined to rush into design quickly and more likely spend time with the client thinking about and discussing information requirements in detail. As with the application of BS1192: 2007, taking a structured and holistic view of data management seems little more than common sense in a digital age.

A BIM Execution Plan is simply a formal record of who does what and when in relation to the generation and management of digital data. Even the smallest building commissions may sit within established industry frameworks for design management and cost control like RIBA Plan of Work 2013 and NRM 1,2,3. A BIM Execution Plan can interact and comfortably mesh with these templates.

As handover approaches, whatever the scale and value of projects, most design and/or project managers will gather together information necessary to facilitate their client’s use of the building. PAS 1192-2: 2013 simply sets out protocols for formalising and structuring that digital data prior to building occupation. After that, the associated PAS 1192-3 picks up the reins as a “specification for information management for the operational phase of assets using Building Information Modelling”. Or in plain language, a protocol for managing information after handover.

Wiki tells us that the term “the curate’s egg” derives from a 1895 Punch cartoon which depicted a hapless curate eating breakfast at his bishop’s house. In response to the bishop’s embarrassment that his guest had been served up with a bad egg, the curate desperate not to offend his host responded "Oh no, my Lord, I assure you! Parts of it are excellent!"

This micro-SME would argue that PAS 1192-2: 2013 comfortably escapes the curate’s egg tag. Most of the document is understandable, palatable and makes sense. Cutting through the jargon and acronyms, the PAS maps out pathways which support structured and logical workflows. In the digital age, data is king (or queen) and PAS 1192-2: 2013 serves its purpose well as an enabling tool. We await the revised document with interest.

Graham Paterson is an architect, chartered technologist and core group member of BIM4SME

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