Friday, 19 July 2019


I attended the BIM4Heritage Annual Conference on the 27/28 June this year and, I have to say, it was one of the more enlightening and educational experience I’ve had for a while. 
Prior to the event I had a pretty well-defined idea of what technologies were relevant to FM (Facilities Management) in the BIM (Building Information Modelling) context.  For example, I had thought of laser scanning as a nice way of generating 3D images of buildings but, was of little use to FM in real terms as it rarely captures objects that are enclosed in voids such as ceilings and floors etc.

This is of course true when we are hoping to capture building services equipment such as fan coil units, fire dampers and other ‘hidden’ items that we traditionally associated with the hard FM set up in a building asset.

So, here is my first learning point:

Context matters

When considering the care and maintenance of Heritage assets, a point cloud scan can be essential.  Not necessarily to aid the maintenance process but, to capture the site/object as it exists at a point in time.  The recent disasters of Notre Dame and the Glasgow School of Art are testament to the value of a good accurate and up to date point cloud scan.  Neither of these sites had a full laser survey completed prior to the disaster and consequently, some information was inevitably lost.

Picture courtesy of NBC News

Laser scanning can also give the asset custodian the ability to track changes over time, whether this is after a disaster or simply deterioration over time.
In a traditional FM setting, the value of a point cloud is limited to a nice to look at object that is of limited value during operations.  In a heritage setting, this resource is elevated to a ‘must have’ piece of the ‘Golden thread of information’ we are currently obsessed by.

Picture courtesy of

The fact is that laser scans still must be painstakingly re-modelled in architectural design software if we are to resolve the images into separate objects with attached meta data.  A process that is still time consuming and expensive although, as technology improves, data processing in both visual and actual terms is becoming more efficient.

Damage at the Rennie Mackintosh Building, Glasgow.  Image courtesy of the Mirror.

I saw the value of BIM information and data being used in new and interesting ways throughout the two days.  I feel much better equipped to think outside the box – we often fall into patterns of behaviour and use of conventional wisdom when we stay in our own little worlds for too long.

It’s generally accepted that FM is coming slow to the BIM party despite sterling efforts from some quarters.  The work that BIM4Heritage has done during the last 3 years is impressive.  Visit their website here for more information.  Whilst the FM sector has produced some laudable work, it tends to have come from the membership organisations via working groups and has been limited in depth (this is largely because BIM has not fully made the transition into the Operate and Maintain phase yet).  I think the key difference is that the BIM4Heritage group has gripped BIM by the scruff and used the available technology to ‘do stuff’.  They haven’t waited for someone to say ‘hey, here’s BIM 4 FM, it’s all sorted for you, just use it out of the box’.  That is never going to happen folks.

Learning point two:

If you don’t make it happen, it will happen to you.

There is so much innovative technology out there and so many bright people in the FM industry that I wonder why it is such a hard sell to get BIM and other workplace tech in use across the sector.  BIM in the FM sector is going to be driven by client request.  The days of the big, lumbering giants of FM delivery providing a standard, off the shelf service are numbered.  FM needs to adapt to change, use technology where it is beneficial and start to innovate from within.
At FM180 we are constantly looking for new solutions that will help deliver the workplace experience of the future.  Whilst that is important, we also need to understand how that tech can be used in other contexts.  I see new ideas and technological solutions appearing in the marketplace on an almost daily basis.  Much of this tech is geared towards the corporate property world or technical FM.  Thinking outside the box, I can see applications for these technologies and processes in other areas such as heritage.  I have no doubt that both examples given had some form of fire protection in place but, it clearly was not effective enough to ward off the disaster.

Sensor technology is now readily available in multiple forms and types.  A basic search of the RS Components website (there are others) reveals over 20,000 items for various applications.


So, what is my point?  Sensor tech is not new, software applications are not new however; we still seem to struggle to bring disparate sources together easily to form cohesive and effective solutions to common problems.
For example, if the systems available at my two examples had been ‘enabled’ enough to identify the build-up of heat/smoke from locally placed sensors on vulnerable structures and those sensors had a communication link with a system that could use that data to make a decision, perhaps the damage could have been reduced if not avoided.

Ok so, the sensor tech is not going to stop something happening but, it could tell a system or someone that a problem has occurred.  The next logical step is for locally placed ‘intelligent’ equipment to be informed and be able to do something about it.  We must be realistic here though.  A loss of connectivity (common during fire and flood) can remove the technological advantage.  We therefore also need to consider physical interventions (automatic fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems, absorbent barriers, intumescent strips are all examples) as part of the arsenal.

That said, we seem to be relatively poor at learning from the past, until the next incident triggers a limited response for a time.  Note that the ‘Golden thread of information’ is becoming a buzz word around the information piece following the awful Grenfell disaster but, after many of the cladding tests are forgotten, have we really come up with any innovation to stop the same thing happening again?

Source: Maxwell, Ingval - Fire and Flood in the Built Environment - 2015

Trying to get back on piste, the point is that technology can make a real contribution to monitoring, managing and preserving our heritage assets.  Whether it be a detailed point cloud showing surface level details and relief, HD photogrammetry giving precise records of construction, surface and layout, drone footage of inaccessible areas or BIM models developed in a 3D virtual world with AI providing ways of generating individual stones on a medieval building.  All is possible.  The value of our heritage assets is incalculable. What seems to be missing at present is an effective ‘ecosystem’ mentality.  More often than not we see single application promising the world which is rarely realised.  A more realistic approach is to consider the bringing together of several applications and data sources to form a cohesive and accessible tool that can be used to help us make decisions, take action and project outcomes.

Learning point three:

You are only limited by your imagination.

The answers are out there, we just need to be more effective at joining the dots.  Think out of the box, define what you need and then seek out the way you are going to deliver the vision.  Sure, it helps to be tech savvy, but if you can explain clearly what you need to achieve, someone will be able to help realise the solution.

One of the observations made during the conference was that we lack effective case study material.  Whilst it is true that we have plenty of case studies of previous disasters, we are really talking about examples of the use of BIM and other technologies as exemplars of heritage management and preservation during the operate and maintain phase (which in this setting is considerably longer than traditional FM is used to).

We are therefore offering up a challenge to the Heritage FM and Asset Management folks out there[1].  Take us up on a free consultation about your heritage asset, the information you hold and the challenges you need to overcome, and we will provide you with an unbiased report on possible solutions that could make your job easier.

Learning point four:

If you only ask questions internally, you’ll only get the answers you are expecting.

I am now completely converted to the idea that Heritage needs technology.  Having always had a strong interest in the sector but, never the opportunity, bringing two subjects that I am passionate about is a chance too good to miss.  If this sounds interesting to you, drop us a line at or send us a message on Twitter @fm180ltd, @fm180steve or via LinkedIn.

[1] Subject to availability.  Limited to one built asset per organisation.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

CDBB – Round Table 8 event on ISO 19650 compliant BIM

On 17th June 2019 I was privileged to be invited to a round table event hosted by the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) to discuss how the new ISO 19650 standard was going to impact asset and facilities managers.  I was genuinely interested to see the parties from the Facilities Management (FM) sector who were looking at this and developing strategies to utilise the information and data provided by the Building Information Modelling (BIM) process to improve FM delivery and lifecycle management.  The question posed was relatively simple:

Delivery of ISO19650 compliant BIM, and in turn a digital built Britain, offers significant benefits to asset owners and operators, are you identifying and realising these benefits and what is still required to help you to make BIM ‘business as usual’?’

At this point, if you are not a ‘BIM bunny’ I should explain briefly that BS 1192 is a series of documents that were developed to help standardise and deliver BIM to the requirements of the British Government.  These documents have subsequently been superseded by the International standard ISO 19650.  This is a simplification but, essentially, there is much discussion about the changes between the two sets of documents.  In my opinion, the lack of FM engagement is the saving grace here as ISO 19650 is as new to FM as the BIM concept anyway (I am being cynical here, forgive me).

As this article is not about the standards themselves, I’ll move on and back to the event.

Whilst there were key FM personalities from Sodexo, John Lewis, Higher Education and Government/MOD present, it was disappointing to see the lack of uptake from other invited FM organisations on the subject.  Is this due to lack of understanding of BIM generally or that FM feels that the ISO is not relevant to them?

I’d be happy to take responses from the sector, invited or not.

Accepted is the fact that Parts 1 & 2 deal with the first two BS 1192 documents which are mostly concerned with design and construction (although they lay the ‘ground rules’ for BIM delivery).

I’ve been moving around in ‘BIM’ circles for at least 6 years now, constantly banging the drum for FM involvement but, feel the industry has moved forward very little in this time.  I should say at this point that there are laudable works going on with organisations such as IWFM, The BIM Alliance and BIM4FM groups but, in real terms the FM sector is still not engaging with the BIM process.
So why is this?  I’ve already spoken at numerous events, written articles and spoken to many Tier 1 FM suppliers with little or no forward movement.  I have concluded that the BIM4FM revolution must be client driven.  Neither the FM suppliers (with a few notable exceptions) or FM software industry are moving fast enough to drive the change that is needed.

I see plenty of ‘BIM for FM’ advice being peddled by application vendors with very little real substance  or actual evidence of development to either meet the BIM challenge (for traditional CAFM/IWMS applications) or to understand the complexity of FM operations (this is levelled squarely at app vendors who have some 3D viewer capability and rudimentary work reporting function.  Stop telling people you are FM software, please).

How do we engage FM as a sector in a subject that is going to impact on them for the foreseeable future?

The round table event was number 8 in a series of 9 events held by the CDBB and should have been overflowing with FM’s champing at the bit to inform the world about how the new standard would impact/help FM make use of BIM data.  Sadly, as at so many of these type of events, FM came up short.
I’m used to working alone in hostile environments (not that this event was at all hostile) with little or no support so, not entirely outside my comfort zone although, I continue to be disappointed by what I see as my sectors lack of involvement.

So how did the event shape up?

The discussion centred as much around the involvement (or to be more correct, lack of involvement) of FM during the BIM process as it did trying to answer the question.  It was very clear that of the FM personalities present, there was a frustration that it was difficult to get FM involved early enough in projects.  There are always notable exceptions but, these tend to be larger organisations or ones with strong client focus on owning and utilising their own data.

It was also apparent that there was a general acceptance that there needs to be an interface person/organisation/appointment that bridges the gap between client/contractor, AEC/FM, Capex/Opex etc.  This function needs to understand the language of both sides of the AEC/FM areas and deliver the client brief.  Moreover, this function may need to consult on all sides to advise, address, mediate and educate.  A tall order.

One of the interesting arguments was how to ‘sell’ this to the client.  BIM should save money rather than cost more.  That said, this advice has a value but, cannot be free if we are to avoid people asking for everything.  We need to get clients away from blanket statements like ‘I want Level 2’ without having any idea what that actually means or how it fits their vision.

BIM for FM is not going to benefit from information overload and the only way that we can ensure the effectiveness of the process for the Operate and Maintain phase is to understand what information and data is:

a.     Important
b.     Required
c.     Benefits the organisation
d.     Delivers value during the lifecycle of the Asset

To ensure this is achieved at the right time during a project lifecycle, FM involvement must come earlier.

I’m looking forward to the results of the round table series and hope that we can change the status quo.

If you have any comments, would like to discuss BIM in the FM environment or have case studies you’d like to share with the wider FM community, please drop us a line.

Monday, 3 June 2019

Duty Now For The Future (Remix)

Three years ago, our Head of Workplace, Will Easton, wrote about the need for a shift in mindset, from the traditional Facilities Management to Workplace. Calling on the industry to adapt to the demands of the ever-evolving business agendas, it offered up the argument that if the industry wanted to survive, it needed to change its approach. 

Since its original publication (Duty Now For The Future (2016), we have seen the subject debated with increasing popularity, the rebranding of BIFM to IWFM and increase in roles with specific reference to workplace.

It has been something of a contentious issue at times, with workplace being a word that excites, as well as stirring emotion within the profession. But the fact that those discussions do take place highlights the importance of identity within the discipline. Is the identity positioned at the right place for the present as well as the future?

Here is the original blog from 2016:  
The future of work is changing rapidly. In fact, so rapidly that as I write this a new concept or model will have replaced last week’s trend. This makes it hard to know where to look in order to keep up with the latest hyperbolic crusades.

One certainty is that every function in an organisation needs to be prepared and armed with the flexibility, adaptability and foresight for impending changes. Facilities Management, as a profession, has long argued its case for a seat at the top table, in the boardroom, demonstrating its untouchable importance to the organisation. In truth, this is justified, but no so then the next department or business function. HR, IT, Finance, Sales, Procurement, Legal and many more are all equally important to the success of any organisation.

However, the future trends of work will see a systematic shift in the responsibilities of business functions. Relationships between uneasy bedfellows, newly formed tribes and surprising allegiances will need to develop to cater to the future of work.

For FM this will see a shift towards greater Workplace Management as we shift from the reactivity of poorly formed strategies and the reduction of monotonous, low skilled activities through the increase of automation and the use of Artificial Intelligence. But this the shift should not be a deskilling or decline of the industry but as an opportunity for growth and a push towards the coveted top table.

You see, only by letting go of the old attitudes and practices can the true potential and power of the Workplace professional fully is recognised. This will come in the form of more engaged and intellectually stimulated individuals being able to harness the input of their profession to the advantage of the organisation.

The question is FM ready and equipped for this shift?

If not, then we will be standing on the edge, facing oblivion as another specialism swallows up the function. As demand for the user prioritises a more connected, borderless and symbiotic workplace experience, preparation and reaction are required now. If we are, what are we doing? Is FM making the transition to Workplace Management to ensure it couples with its allies in HR, OD and IT to create those ‘trophy’ workspaces? Indeed, is it taking steps to attract, source and retain the best talent for an organisation? Is it ready to go beyond traditional trappings, resistance and attitudes and prepare for a rapidly changing and increasingly demanding future?

Like it or lump change is coming (and is already here) and all those working in the FM sector have a duty to learn, educate, prepare and change for the ultimate prize – survival. Time to switch from the reactive ‘old dependable’ to the proactive and more cerebrally challenging aspects of the workplace.

Love the industry? You have a duty now, for the future.

So, the question is; In the 3 years since this was written, have we seen the change needed to adapt to future business requirements?

It is interesting to note that according to IWFM’s Pay and Prospects Survey 2018/19, almost of a 1/5 of FM’s looking to leave their current role said they wanted to do so because, primarily, of the excessive workloads. This could suggest that they are unable to break away from monotonous tasks that become a huge drain on this vital resource. This is backed up by the 36% that want a new challenge. A possible indicator that routine nature is having a detrimental effect on retaining talent. This could be a huge risk factor to an industry desperate to attract new thinking and skills.

Data enabled decision making, virtual enterprises and human-robot collaboration made up the key trends from the 2017 Global FM Market report. This identification of trends that should enable the FM professional to become more strategic seems somewhat at odds to the narrative of an industry struggling to entice and keep hold of skilled individuals. However, we still seem to be operating with outdated methods, not equipt to support modern organisations. 

People are the heartbeat of any organisation or industry, and it is always a delicate ecosystem when one of its key elements is also it's most vulnerable.  So, it’s over to you. Do we have an industry this is ready for the future or are we risking it’s very being?

Let us know what you think and where, if at all, things need to change.  

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Workplace analysis – Finding the balance between quantitative and qualitative data

Prior to any workplace change programme, baselining the workplace’s performance is essential to understand where an organisation can start making improvements. No matter what the initial drivers are; rationalisation of space, increase collaboration, improve employee satisfaction or to aid new ways of working, it is important to measure and understand the use of the physical space.

With property being the 2nd biggest cost to any organisation, after its people, it’s an obvious consideration for any organisation to measure the performance of the workplace, thus ensuring space is optimised and waste is reduced. The better an organisation understands this, then the better the decision-making process becomes.

However, many organisations can often be led down a path that relies purely on the quantitative data and therefore the output does not deliver the desired outcome. Here organisations often fall to a ‘paint by numbers’ approach that results in workplace change programmes that are nothing more than an expensive and ineffective reshuffle.

Why is this? Well firstly, we must look at what ‘workplace’ is.
There are of course many variations and opinions as to the precise definition, with some claiming there are no defined boundaries to the discipline. However, etymology aside, it can generally be agreed ‘workplace’ is the blend of physical, digital and cultural factors that allow an employee to perform their role, hopefully in the best possible way. The workplace often manifests itself in the physical space of an organisation but is not solely this environment. This is crucial to get right and is often the reason for organisational change projects to end up circling around cookie cutter approaches as to how it uses its space. It is important to understand the cultural aspects of an organisation, as well as its digital capabilities, as these are significant in determining the success of the physical environment.

We must, therefore, approach quantitative data as it is – a snapshot in time. It is a measurement that, once gathered, is already at risk of being obsolete, if it is not used in the correct manner and being married up with robust evidence-based qualitative data.

A utilisation study may highlight an estate that is vastly underutilised, and therefore the decision to remove allocated desks, in one example. In theory, this may play out well in the spirit of a ‘smarter working’ programme. However, if there are workers who are low mobility, in relation to their tasks, then their work style and the role has not been considered and this has a negative impact on the change journey. Any negative factor during change will have a direct and indirect impact on the successful delivery of the project.

Furthermore, is the IT infrastructure in place to remove desk ownership?  Do the employees have the digital tools to communicate and collaborate effectively in order to optimise the use of the physical environment? There is also the need to understand permissions and trust within the organisation and those cultural drivers represented by the leadership team.

If the physical and digital factors are taken care of, are the staff given the right level of trust? If an organisations leadership has relinquished that control, are the employees able to carry out their tasks in a variety of different settings via the appropriate technology? And does the physical space allow its users to work productively with the level of comfort, convenience, and connectivity suited to their function within an organisation?   

Finally, are the solutions implemented being tailored to the organisation or is the organisation being made to retrofit into an off the shelf solution?

It is important to ensure there is a balance of quantitative and qualitative data when embarking on any workplace change programme. There must be a robust and evidence-based approach to any decision-making process and ensure that the change programme isn’t forced down a path of fait accompli and predictable desk ratios.  

So, it would be recommended that any workplace analysis undertaken is done so with a balance of quantitative and qualitative data.  Of course, it is important to measure the utilisation of the space available to its inhabitants. However, understanding how they work, what tools are at their disposal and the cultural and behavioural aspects of the workplace are essential to making informed decisions. The quality of the output is completely dependant on the quality of the input, and this comes from knowing how the organisations employees work and what they require to maximise their productivity.  

Workplace strategy, change programmes, and management must be approached from a solid, evidence-based process. Can you afford to risk making decisions based on one-sided data?   

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

From the Land of Ice and Fire to Arabian Nights - FM180 on the move

Well, it's been a busy couple of weeks so, where to begin?  I guess I should start with my recent visit to Iceland where we received some additional training on the new version of MainManager.  

GIS and BIM integration seamlessly integrated into one FM platform.
 As well as our own training we discussed joint development and partnership opportunities around the world and across a number of subjects.  The current focus is obviously within the BIM4FM arena where new functionality is meeting innovative requirements from prospective clients.  We are already benefiting from MainManager's ability to integrate BIM, GIS and traditional 2D floorplans although the next version will take this interactivity to a whole new level.

During the visit we were also able to sign off a new agreement for partners in Malta and the UAE which will see MainManager available in those markets for 2019 onwards.  FM180 and FMCore have a long history and it is with some satisfaction that we were able to facilitiate them bringing MainManager to their clients.

Guðrún Rós Jónsdóttir - CEO of MainManager co-signing
the Maltese Agreement for FMCore
Earlier in 2018 we had worked with FMCore to deliver the agreement across the UAE and look forward to some very interesting projects in the Dubai and Ahbu Dhabi region in the coming months.

Gaurav Bhatia - CEO of the new FMCore venture in the UAE.
Prior to the visit to Iceland we had successfully completed the delivery of MainManager to Slough Borough Council's flagship leisure facility - Slough Centre Leisure.  The project see's the Leisure portfolio fully utilising the 3D design and associated BIM models and O&M data within an integrated FM platform.

At the official opening on the 15th March we were able to demonstrate the application to dignitaries and senior members of Slough Borough Council as well as the wider Morgan Sindall project team.  The Centre opened to the public on the 25th March.

Explaining the finer points of BIM in an
FM setting to key SBC dignitaries

2019 looks to be a busy year not just for BIM and FM generally but also for FM180 as we add Workplace to our portfolio of services.  More about this in due course from Will Easton, our new Head of Workplace.

For now, I will leave you with a couple of images from opposite sides of the globe which I hope will show the global reach of BIM and FM180 in delivering solutions to our clients.

We look forward to speaking to you during the year to help with your BIM, FM and Workplace requirements!

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Slough Borough Council and Morgan Sindall leading the way in BIM4FM delivery

Morgan Sindall and Slough Urban Renewal teamed up to provide Slough Borough Council with a BIM solution not just for the design and construction of 4 leisure centres but, also for the FM delivery post completion.  In order to provide this end to end solution, Morgan Sindall engaged FM180 to deliver a unique and cutting edge IWMS solution for the client.  The system chosen was MainManager, a Scandinavian solution that has the capability to integrate 3D models directly into the FM functionality.

The project consisted of 4 refurbished leisure centres funded by Slough Urban Renewal and delivered by Morgan Sindall.  The first three centres are already complete and operational with the final centre being delivered by the end of March 2019.
First to complete was Slough Ice Arena, followed by Salt Hill Activity Centre and then Langley Leisure Centre.

Although MainManager has been used in Scandinavia for many years and already manages numerous ‘BIM’ structures, this is the first deployment in the UK.  There were obviously differences between the UK BIM process and the Scandinavian methodology but, technically, we are in the same ballpark and FM180 have been using MainManager in the UK for over 6 years.  This deep understanding of MainManager and the UK BIM mandate has allowed us to work with the developers to ensure a robust and effective method of capturing BIM data for the Operate and Maintain phase in a UK setting.

One of the main challenges with converting BIM data for operations is that the FM team need to be able to structure not only the data itself but, how that data is organised for operational delivery.  For example, a flat import of COBie or an IFC will create objects although, the data itself doesn’t understand how to group and sort these objects for optimal FM service delivery.  MainManager has processes that allow us to configure the asset register in a way that supports the FM operation for the client.

Whilst every site is different, the principles are the same and we have found that using the ‘BIM’ way in all our projects has given us valuable benefits.  We have always used solid project delivery methodology but, bringing the BIM process into our way of working has given us further efficiencies.  Added to that the level of automation that is now possible via importing of IFC’s produces savings in time, resource and vastly improves the accuracy of asset information transfer.
As an experienced FM practitioner, I have no hesitation when I say, give me a BIM model every time over any traditional data capture method.  Due to the stringent validation carried out during the BIM process, FM can expect the most accurate information about their assets possible.

We often hear the cry that BIM just means data overload but, certainly in the case of MainManager, this is unfounded.  Whilst it is true that you can capture all the data from a BIM model, the detail needed for FM to deliver its services hasn’t changed that much from a traditional standpoint.  The key here is knowing what information is relevant, interfacing that with the FM engine and allowing the remainder to stay in the background for reference.  One aspect that does change radically however; is the use of information during FM operations.  In the past, the FM would need to identify components manually and then search diligently through a number of volumes within the O&M’s to find the answer to questions.

Rather than these being held separately as is still common, MainManager allows us to fully integrate this information into the system.  MainManager has a fully functioning Document Management System that also allows connection from files within the DMS to objects within the 3D model and the asset register itself.  By connecting the documentation, hyperlinks, videos and drawings to the FM system and even the objects themselves, finding information is much more productive.  This is a key benefit of BIM for the operational FM and the wider team saving vast amounts of time and speeding up decision making.

By utilising MainManager earlier in the BIM process than is usual, we were able to help reduce the traditional issues post-handover.  Using the incident handling process we worked with the aftercare team to implement their existing defects process.  This approach allowed us to capture and segregate defects from general fault reports.  The defects process then kicked in enabling the team to evaluate and process defects and either deal with them and close them out or generate work orders which could then be assigned to the appropriate contractor for action.  Maximum use was made of mobile devices so that issues could be captured directly from the front line and automatically captured in the system.

A clear benefit of being able to leverage the visual output from BIM within the FM context is that we can now use the ‘virtual asset’ to do much more than simply view a ‘dumb’ 3D model.  We can interrogate the objects in the model as we have said before but, we can now also inspect areas within voids, strip back walls, ceilings and floors to reveal the location of hidden objects and use the model as a focal point for discussions and training even when the people involved may be geographically dispersed.  This use of BIM models in FM delivery will mature over time and we are already seeing build sequencing on the roadmap for MainManager as well as the ability to carry out EPD, LCM and other condition-based projections.  We will soon be using the ‘virtual asset’ to carry out activities such as evacuation simulations, fire safety assessments and plan LCM activities using visual cues.

Bringing all of this together with a powerful task management suite that enables planning and costing of maintenance, condition and other tasks over multiple years allows the client to project and adjust operational costs year on year.  Again, the quality of data within the model ensures a clear, accurate and granular asset register which allows the generation and implementation of the required PPM regime.  Add to this the standard statutory and regulatory tasks and the client is considerably de-risked.  The automation of the system and mobile enabled workforce give instant, real-time feedback to managers at all levels with the ability to aggregate reporting across a large mixed portfolio.

This is just the start of the journey for the first three centres.  Over the coming months and years, the data they generate through operations will feed into the wider estates information providing effective lifecycle data that can be used to make strategic decisions, inform product procurement and suitability and also, reduce the overall cost of service delivery through efficiencies delivered by quality, accessible data.

If you would like to know more about BIM for FM operations, MainManager or FM180, please contact

Thursday, 9 March 2017

The Real Value of BIM Data for FM

As per my last blog, getting out of the office is getting harder and harder these days but, on the days that I manage it, I'm always convinced I should do it more!  Today I attended a BIFM sponsored breakfast event hosted and delivered by Chris Senior of @infiniteBIM.  Although Chris, as he is quick to point out, is not from an FM background, he clearly has a handle on what makes for good FM data.  More importantly, through experience of delivering actual projects (yes, you heard me right) he understands what is less helpful.

This is not a sales pitch for @infiniteBIM but, it really is heartening to see, at last, some real debate and news about getting FM into the BIM conversation.  Clearly, it is easier to engage with FM from 'the other side' if you are working in an environment that has it's own service provider that is sold on the value of BIM.  It is less clear cut when we are discussing new builds where the client is less informed and may or may not have their FM operation in place.

Our experience, validated by organisations such as Infinite BIM, is that FM (as a discipline) is generally engaged far too late in the process.  When FM is involved, the process is improved for all involved.  There is education on all sides and the puzzle that is BIM becomes slightly clearer to all.  Where we have the opportunity to redress this balance we should make the most of learning the lessons (however disjointed at present) and utilising the learning on future projects.

As anyone who knows the real story will agree, we still do not have a single example of a delivered BIM project that has benefitted from the Operate & Maintain (FM) phase engagement throughout.  What we are now seeing are some of the early adopters showing evidence of the potential benefit gained by joining the party late.  Better late than never.

If you are thinking of a new BIM project or, have embarked on one and haven't broken ground, please consider involving an FM 'intelligent client function'.  You may be surprised at the results.

When speaking to Architects and design houses, we often hear the phrase "Start with the end in mind".  The time is right now to put your money where your mouth is and actually engage with FM.  The BIM guidance and documentation all points to early engagement yet it still happens all to rarely.

And to the FM community, let's stop avoiding the subject and get on board the BIM train.  BIM has the potential to change how we care for our built environment in a fundamental way.  Stand up and take one step forward.

A fantastic event that gave me much food for thought.

Friday, 11 November 2016

A walk in the peaks or a day in the office?

If you are running a business, or you are a senior manager running someone else’s, what is the most beneficial to your organisation?  A day in the office, right?

I had the privilege the other day to be invited to a gathering of like-minded people who still believe that making the world of work a better place is a worthy struggle.  And added to that, the belief that making this abstract, ‘touchy-feely’ stuff a part of understanding our business will improve the bottom line.  All too often we make decisions based on a business case full of figures on a spreadsheet or design something based on external constraints and then push what we all say is our most important asset into a situation or space that is doomed to fail.

I must say at this point (and those who know me will no doubt back me up) that I am not prone to an overly gentle approach to life and business but, I listened to some fantastic accounts of examples where actually putting people at the centre of the solution (rather than just saying it or writing it on the front page of the corporate website) made a significant (and dare I say measurable) difference to performance, wellbeing and, you guessed it, profitability.

My world is generally full of order and process and deadlines, no surprise there.  I’m not saying we all have to go out and ‘hug a tree’, just that every now and again, take a step back from the straight lines and try to understand why we do what we do, why that is important and whether we are in fact doing what we think we are doing.

Too flowery for all you hard-nosed business folks out there?  I know a few people who can prove you wrong (and probably save you a few bob in the process).

If you think you have a good/great/exceptional team and want to make it better, drop me a line and I will point you in the right direction.

If on the other hand, your business is top notch and you can’t improve it, who am I to argue?

Tuesday, 4 October 2016


My name is Steve and I’m a BIMaholic, my problem started about 3 years ago when I attended a BIM event.  The problem is, I’m an FM and FM don’t do BIM…… Well judging by FM attendance at most BIM events at least.

During the last week of September I was honoured to have a small speaking part at the BIM Conference 2016 held at Coombe Abbey.  The Conference was almost entirely attended by Architects, Designers, Construction professionals and Supply Chain specialists.  I was invited to share some information about how the Operate and Maintain function fits into the BIM process.

The keynote presentation was delivered by Professor Mervyn Richards OBE and covered a whole host of information about BIM, Level 2 and the history of construction in general.  The presentation was fantastic, as you would expect from ‘BIM royalty’ and taught me quite a few things I hadn’t know or realised previously.  Suffice to say, the conference earned its pay in the first hour for me.  If only there were more ‘FM types’ at these events.

“It was quite impossible for the surveyor to take out quantities from drawings such as sometimes come from the architect’s office, imperfectly finished and possibly incorrect”

The Present Condition of the Building Industry - A paper and discussion reported in RICS
Transactions Vol. XXXIII (1900– 01)

It was very interesting to see some of the quotes and comments from history that are still relevant today.  We seem to be much better at identifying our shortfalls and giving advice to future generations than we are at following that advice.  Perhaps that is just human nature?

When we think about BIM for FM, I believe we are in a position at the moment where we can either sit back, and carry on making the same mistakes as we have in the past, or we can change the narrative around delivering our built environment to the eventual operators and users of those assets.  What do I mean by this?

Currently, we view BIM (largely) as a tool for design and construction to save money and reduce waste.  BIM offers much more than that.

Design and Construction have been working closely to develop our BIM guidance to make the most of the technology and process to realise the savings that have been projected but, they have never really included the Operate and Maintain element in the early stages of the process.  It is true that much of the documentation and guidance mentions operations or FM or ‘the client’ but, in reality their actual involvement prior to handover very rarely happens.

Why is this?  Well, I have a theory.  It may not be popular with some groups or individuals but, here it is:

Firstly, the divide between Capex and Opex is difficult to bridge.  Whilst ever the people delivering the asset are concerned only with the Capex element, it is unlikely that they will consider the effect of changes that impact only on the Opex budget.  It’s somebody else’s problem.

When we order a new car, if we ask for air conditioning and electric windows, we do not expect someone else to decide that actually, manual windows and a decent fan will do.  Put this in the context of a building project and you know it happens all too often.

We do however; accept that if we want aircon and all electrics, that we have to pay extra for that.

Building an asset is similar although the figures are a little bigger and the timeline (depending on car manufacturer) longer so, you would expect we would have the same mental approach?  Sadly this doesn’t seem to be the case in my experience.

BIM offers us a chance to change this two stage view as long as we truly look at the ‘bigger picture’.  Anyone heard of this ‘Lifecycle Management’ idea?  It’ll never catch on!

Secondly, when we talk to Architects and Designers, we commonly hear “the client has asked for Level 2 BIM” often followed by “we asked them why and they said, ‘because we have to have Level 2’” or “but, we have no idea what that is.  We were hoping you were going to tell us”.  Unfortunately, it is still the case that most clients do not fully understand what Level 2 BIM (or indeed BIM generally) means to them.  They also don’t know what information they need and how they need that presenting.  

The painful truth is that they (FM/client/owner/operator) do have all the answers but, haven’t been asked the right questions.

Education is lacking on both sides, we must be able to educate ‘the client’ on what/why they should be asking the design team (and vice versa), what that means for them and, most importantly, what benefits it will bring.  If there are no benefits, why would you do it?

Finally, the current leading edge of BIM (Design & Construction) do not always understand the way that buildings are used and operated.  Sure they know how to design them, specify and install assets that fulfill specifications and meet the standards but, by the time we have to actually use the building/asset in anger, they are usually long gone.  

There is this description, ‘Post Occupancy Evaluation’ but, to my mind at least, all the POE I have ever come across is largely a list of what should have worked but doesn’t and how we will try to correct it.  Surely with the advent of BIM (the process and it’s supporting technology) we should be able to do better?

Ok, so there’s clearly a lot more to consider than the three points above but, I don’t want the reader dropping off whilst I’m in mid-rant.

The design and construction industry spends a fortune on showcasing and selling their BIM credentials and services.  FM as a sector is sadly not part of this circus as yet.  We need clients to wake up, service providers to get on board and software developers to come up with solutions rather than waiting for someone to do it for them.

We now have good evidence of the value of BIM to design and construction.  The true value of BIM for the Operate & Maintain phase has not been fully realised (although there are some very promising early adopters coming to light – MOJ, Manchester City Library etc). 

We even see main contractors with an FM arm who still don’t do joined up BIM.  Why?  Because Construction and FM are separate functions and they only cross paths at handover.  Time for a change?

In order to progress the use of BIM generated data within the FM environment, FM as a sector/discipline has to take responsibility for telling Design and Construction industries what it needs, in what detail and at what frequency in order to streamline the delivery of the operate and Maintain phase as we have now done for design and construction.

I may sound like a grumpy old man but, the truth of the matter is that someone needs to bang the collective heads together of all stakeholders in the BIM process and show them how to play as a team rather than them telling each other how good they are at their own bit.

We are better together, greater than the sum of our parts etc etc.

Perhaps, the current problem of transitioning BIM from Construction into Operate & Maintain is due to the fundamental separation enforced by our previous approach to handover at Practical Completion.  

Here at FM180 we are trying to bridge the gap and act as the island in the stream that allows that bridge to be built (in BIM obviously).  We have a solid foundation in FM and the BIM process.  Why not talk to us about how you can turn your BIM project into a winner on all sides?

I should probably qualify that by saying that we are independent, have the interests of our built environment at heart and are fluent in FM, colloquial level in Construction and can order a beer in Architect.  Whatever your discipline, we are here to help.

#Facman #BIM #BIM4FM #FM180