ISO 19650 - An Evolution Not a Revolution

I have read and listened to many positive and negative comments relating to the recently published ISO 19650 series of international standards. My personal position is only positive when considering the wider impact, and I take the view that these new standards are just another evolutionary step towards industry digitisation and the further development of the information age we are all living and working within.

ISO 19650 - An Evolution Not a Revolution

So, are these new international standards the dawn of a brand new information age? I personally do not think they are, they are not even revolutionary in their content but they have elevated the effort, work and commitment undertaken by the UK’s construction sector to the International stage in a way that should not be undervalued, or its longer-term impact ignored.

The new ISO 19650 series provides today’s global construction sector with a consistent framework for adoption, driving standardisation whilst still allowing for innovation; it also validates or reconfirms that BIM provides that much needed foundation for the organisation and digitisation of information for buildings and civil engineering works. But for me there is one very important concept that I would like to highlight in this article and that is the changes relating to the responsibilities for information delivery, including the project management of that information.

PAS 1192:2 introduced and described several roles, responsibilities and authorities using descriptions such as Task Team Manager, Task Information Manager, Interface Manager, etc. This caused confusion for many across the industry and an incorrect belief that more people had to be employed on projects to fill these new roles, a simple case of misunderstanding despite the original concept having good intentions. In ISO 19650 these role descriptions no longer exist, and have been replaced by functions and a new process to assign these functions to the most appropriate organisation is now available, via what I personally consider is a well thought out RACI table, titled the Information Management Assignment Matrix. I propose this matrix will support very useful and productive initial discussions within Employer organisations, or by those advising Employers, Clients or the Appointing Party (using the ISO term) when developing the overall information management plan for the project.

I am also pleased to highlight that Information Management will no longer simply equal Information Manager. There is and remains a key role for Information Manager(s) on projects, on both the Employer and Supplier sides, but now we have a wider opportunity to de-centralise information management and assign it across project teams to those that have the most appropriate skills, rather than within a single or very limited number of appointments. This approach also supports my strong belief that we all need to be personally responsible for information management for the greatest success.

My advice moving forward for Client organisations is to implement the Information Management Assignment Matrix proposed in ISO 19650 with immediate effect when developing project information management plans, or by those engaging with Employers, Clients or the Appointing Party in an advisory capacity. Although I cannot provide legal advice, I am confident the completed matrix will assist in defining and scoping information management functions and services required from the supply chain and inform the required appointment or contract inclusions.

The template for the Information Management Function Assignment Matrix can be found within BS EN ISO 19650‑2:2019, Annex A. Note: Once an activity has been assigned, it is for the relevant party to assign the appropriate resources for that function or activity.

There were many concepts within the ISO 19650 I could have focused on in this brief article, but for me personally, I firmly believe having a clear understanding of ownership of roles and responsibilities is key for project success, and the introduction of the Information Management Responsibility Matrix is an easy process and tool for this purpose. In our capacity as Client Advisor or Information Manager, Symetri is already starting to adopt and test the matrix as a framework and we are developing further tools for each of the functions based on this international standard and our experiences have been positive to date.

You will read and see lots of presentations, advice, updates and multi-media in the public domain relating to the new ISO 19650 so do try to consume as much of it as you can, there are excellent resources available for free so do take advantage of these and start to understand what the impact, however minor may be to your organisation.

And finally, there is no immediate rush for you to adopt ISO 19650, it is an evolution not a revolution and the industry needs time to adjust, therefore the first projects being fully aligned to ISO 19650 may be 3-6 months away. But do start thinking about updating current documents to the new ISO in terms of terminology and concepts, but at a pace that suits you and your Client’s projects. Also, consider communication of the changes and the impact to Employees and Management so they are not confused or concerned. This is not the dawn of a new age, but it is another significant step in our evolution.

For further information you can watch our ISO 19650 - An Introduction webinar.


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