Build your BIM capability into your Integrated Management System

BIM is an unstoppable force. Contractors of all types and size will need to demonstrate, as a minimum requirement of prequalification, the capability to work in a BIM environment.

This will mean embedding BIM processes in your business; such processes should of course become an integral part of your current management system, your current way of doing things.

Indeed the requirements of PAS 1192-2 (the Specification for information management for the capital/delivery phase of construction projects using building information modelling (BIM)) are satisfied by processes that sit within and are supported by an ISO compliant integrated management system. When the national standards body, the British Standards Institution (BSI), who are at the forefront of developing the BIM Standards to ensure a consistent and collaborative approach to BIM declares that, “Systems (ISO) Certification provide the foundations for BIM Certification” then we know that an integrated management system (IMS) is the way to go. So, what are the practicalities of developing an IMS, looking at the ISO Standards first and then the more specific demands of BIM?

The requirements of the ISO Standards that concern construction specialists can and should be successfully combined to form an Integrated Management System (IMS). This is why almost all our specialist contractor clients successfully secure Certification to ISO 9001 (Quality Management), ISO 14001 (Environmental Management) and OHSAS 18001 (Health & Safety Management) at the same time by developing an IMS containing all the necessary processes to run their business (your IMS can of course contain processes and requirements beyond the demands of the ISO standards’ as well and we always urge you to do so). There is much commonality in the requirements of the ISO Standards. In fact, for 9001, 14001 and 18001 there have always been sections that are almost word-for-word the same. ISO 9001 is undoubtedly the bedrock; while 14001 and 18001 have been designed to both standalone and to combine with or bolt on to ISO 9001. Furthermore, 9001 and 14001 have recently been updated (2015 versions) to the same common structure and 18001 will follow suit soon, probably later this year. All this makes integration easier and the most successful Integrated Management System framework has always taken ISO 9001, quality management, as the base dealing with the common elements of ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 simultaneously and adding the unique elements of 14001 and 18001 according to where they arise within the Plan-Do-Check & Act fundamental philosophy of the ISO standards.

If you have the mind-set to achieve ISO 9001, you can add the others with not much more of a stretch. Far from being more complex, it can actually prove easier to begin with the end of an integrated system in mind rather than developing three systems with the intention of integrating them at a later date. There are obvious immediate benefits to going for an IMS, not least the elimination of duplication among the Standards.
The time and cost saving can be substantial in the preparation phase, whether you engage a consultant or not. Some requirements of all three Standards can be satisfied by one procedure within your manual. Specific operational activities, such as risk assessments for example, can tackle Health & Safety and Environmental risks within the one assessment.

The time and cost saving when it comes to auditing can be even more favourable. Certification bodies will happily visit you on three separate occasions to audit your Quality Management System, then your Environmental Management System and then your Occupational Health & Safety Management System, and happily charge you for the privilege on each occasion. The time taken to audit can legitimately be reduced substantially under UKAS rules when there is a properly integrated management system.

Tackling an IMS from the outset compels you to think holistically about your business; all construction projects face Quality, Health & Safety and Environmental issues and your customers demand that you address all three areas from the tender stage onwards. In fact, even before that. Expectations of quality delivery are taken for granted and have you ever seen a PQQ that did not enquire about your Environmental competence? Or omitted questions about your Health & Safety capabilities?

BIM requirements are also rapidly becoming staples of PQQ’s; in fact an assessment of supply chain BIM capability is integral to the 2016 Government mandate for BIM. When that is the case why not develop an IMS that aims high from the start and uses the requirements of the ISO Standards and the PAS 1192-2 to drive best practice in all areas of your business?

To that end, let us look in a little more detail at adding BIM processes to our developing IMS. The PAS is a little different, but ISO principles run through it and the fact that it is far more prescriptive than ISO because it has been designed for a particular situation, namely working in a BIM environment, only reinforces the suitability of your satisfaction of its requirements being located in your IMS. In fact, a) ISO wraps nicely around PAS 1192-2 and b) the prescriptive elements of that specification can be used to further inform elements of your ISO system.
For example, in relation to the former, with an already ISO compliant IMS the elements of PAS that are quintessentially ISO 9001 will have already have a firm foundation; namely, policy statements, strategy (Business and BIM), knowledge, competence and training, roles and responsibilities. With regard to the latter, your unique operational elements will need to be enhanced by the demands of the PAS and these will be within your IMS’s implementation and operation section. A specific example will illustrate that point. Any robust ISO-compliant IMS will contain your best practice in managing project information, but BIM will add pressure to such procedures. Not only could there be an increase in the amount of information generated but the PAS, and indeed documents that support it, will add further requirements for the issue, recording, use, reuse and final handover of such information. The requirement to respond to and contribute to your customer’s BIM Execution Plan is another specific example that will build on what you already do to ensure effective and appropriate project-specific communication with your customers.

BSI are already Verifying the BIM capability of our Main Contractor customers, and the principle requirement of this verification is that they can demonstrate their capability to work in compliance to PAS 1192-2. The extension of this verification scheme to the specialist contractor supply chain is well under way. Whether you choose to seek Verification or not, you will need to demonstrate BIM capability in some way. A look at how that verification scheme has taken shape enhances the argument for an ISO-compliant IMS that goes further and embraces BIM processes. Indeed, in their “Principles of Verification” BSI actually state that, “this (BIM) capability needs to be prescribed in accordance to a controlled documented system (e.g. building on your ISO 9001 documented system)”! What this means is that for every process requirement of the PAS 1192-2 you would need to demonstrate a controlled documented procedure, built on your ISO-compliant IMS foundation, for how this will be done and also for ensuring that your people are competent to do so (as you would expect, “competence” and the training required to achieve it, are fundamental ISO concepts and will already be enshrined in your IMS).

Integrated Management Systems provide a central hub for all your defined best practice. They are never cast in stone and indeed ISO Certification compels you to ensure, through ISO practices, that your management system grows and evolves with your business. It is widely believed that for most specialist contractors it is not a question of “if” they will need to develop a BIM capability but “when”. When that capability needs to be demonstrated against the requirements of a Standard that builds on ISO principles and practices then actually the real question is not “if you should” develop an ISO-compliant integrated management system but “when will you”?

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