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  These documents have subsequently been superseded by the International standard ISO 19650.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.