The Pains of Being an Author of BIM Management Documents

This blog focuses on the process of authoring Exchange Information Requirements (EIR’s), Asset Information Requirements (AIR’s), BIM Execution Plans (BEP’s), Policies, Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) returns, etc. But I want to start by sharing a few famous quotes with you.

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.” — Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. “Writing is supposed to be difficult, agonizing, a dreadful exercise, a terrible occupation.” — Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing. “Examine every word you put on paper. You'll find a surprising number that don't serve any purpose.” — William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Audio Collection.

If any of the above quotes resonate with you, please do read on.

PEER REVIEW – THE “PHONE A FRIEND” OPTION

Being a Building Information Modelling (BIM) Manager or equivalent title can be a lonely existence sometimes with an assumption that you know everything there is to know about BIM. In most cases, you do not have anyone to bounce ideas off or ask for advice. You lack that “phone a friend” facility you desperately need. Symetri can be that friend. In fact, we are friends with many organizations across the industry answering questions, reviewing documents, provide advice, and just as important, help develop confidence. So, whether it's a BIM Execution Plan, PQQ, tender return, client-side documentation, we can assist with this agile but very cost-effective type of support.

CO-AUTHORING

The next level of support is the collaborative approach where we work with you to develop your documentation. We have regular alignment meetings where we agree tasks and divide sections between us to the author. We reconvene to review the sections, amend, and confirm that the content is clear and easy to understand. We find that this is a very organic approach and enables a lot of knowledge transfer during the engagement. This is because it encourages a lot of Q&A, discussions, and if you are unsure of elements within a particular standard or functionality within a software application, as examples, this can be explored in detail.

THE FULL BIM DOCUMENT AUTHORING PACKAGE

The final typical level of support I am going to term “the full package”. This is often requested when an owner operator client wants all their information requirements documented, which can include: EIR, AIR, etc. Or a lead designer or contractors project team is setting up their projects BEP, etc., or following a GAP Analysis or pre-assessment as the first step towards achieving ISO 19650 Accreditation, a company needs the gaps filled with all the required documentation ready for project implementation. In this scenario, we are trusted to deliver all the required documentation and often there is an appreciation by customers that they may not have the required resources, expertise, or even reach. The conclusion that it will simply take a lot longer to achieve the desired outcomes via the available in-house resources. Symetri’s approach is to:

  • Pre-agree the set of documentation required.
  • Ensure the project or organization requirements are met via regular meetings and discussions.
  • Complete the authoring process.
  • And finally, and I believe the most important part, ensure there is a full and concise hand-over where we present every single document section by section, so there is a full appreciation of the content and its intended purpose and benefits.

Of course, there are other approaches, but the above three service types remain the most popular and provide a lot of flexibility to suit any scenario or requirement.

ABOUT YOUR FELLOW BIM AUTHOR

My working life revolves around a lot of technical writing, and my specialism is information management documentation for client organizations, including Organisational, Asset and Exchange Information Requirements, with many forming part of contractual frameworks. Although there are similarities, every single one is different and written to align with that client’s specific information, data, or process requirements. I work directly with the client on these engagements and only rely on internal peer reviews for support, which forms part of our quality assurance processes within Symetri.

I can of course also write BIM Execution Plans, and I have written countless over the years, far too many to even remember, but here I rely on extra support. We have so many technical consultants, application specialists, industry practitioners from design, construction, and manufacturing within Symetri, it would be some form of insanity if I did not open this huge knowledge bank. No one can be an expert in everything, and there can be many facets within a BIM Execution Plan and subtle elements that can enhance it from being okay, to transforming it to a plan that provides confidence, is well thought out, and most importantly workable during project delivery. In essence, what I am trying to convey here is that we all need help and assistance at some point in our daily working lives.

We are constantly refining our document authoring approach here at Symetri, whether it is because we need to adapt to the latest or changing industry standards, developing best practice, incorporate new technologies or functionality, or apply learning following project lessons learned reviews. All these refinements are informed by our assigned experts who are charged to make sure they fully understand the latest industry trends and developments. In case anyone was wondering, industry standards and specifications is my area of focus. Who doesn’t like sitting by a roaring fire, all curled up to read word by word the latest UK National Annex or copy of ISO 19650-4?

I opened this blog with three quotes, I will end with one now.

“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.” — E. B. White, Charlotte’s Web

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