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Last edited 02 Mar 2022
Information management is crucial in facilitating the smooth running of construction projects. It is the collecting, storing, distributing, archiving and deleting/destroying of information. Efficient information management ensures that the right people have the right information at the right time enabling them to make the right decisions. It is generally centrally managed and allows the parties to project or programme to manage their time and resources in the most effective way to achieve the desired results.
Typically, information management is achieved with the use of information management systems that provide a common structure, protocols and automated systems.
In the course of a construction project, consultants, clients, contractors and subcontractors generate huge amounts of information, much of it in a digital format. Storing information in this format is easier compared to hard copy documents, papers, drawings, letters, invoices and other by-products of the construction process (for more information see: Document control).
The introduction of Building Information Modelling (BIM) in the construction industry has helped standardise the way that digital data and information are created, stored and managed so that it is easier for teams to collaborate and ensure the client's information requirements are satisfied.
Once stored effectively, information can increase value by allowing management, planning, organising, structuring, processing, controlling, evaluating and reporting to take place in a more efficient way. However, the information that is stored must be retrievable and understandable if it is to have maximum value.
The first step in information management is creating or collecting information such as capturing the client’s requirements, expressing the brief, formulating initial responses and solutions. This may be followed by architectural concept sketches, formal plans, which are then supplemented by designs from other consultants, such as engineers, surveyors, contractors and sub-contractors. Depending on requirements, some stakeholders may also have rights to access or input information.
On projects using BIM, these requirements may be described as Employer's Information Requirements (EIR). A common data environment (CDE) may be created as the single source of information. This is used to collect, manage and disseminate documentation, the graphical model and non-graphical data for the whole project team (i.e. all project information whether created in a BIM environment or in a conventional data format). On small projects, the CDE may simply be a collection of folders on a single server or could be a web-based file-sharing application such as Dropbox.
For more information see: Building information modelling.
Projects may go through a number of stages, or gateways, at which information is collated and approved, then change control processes are introduced for aspects of that information that are considered 'frozen'. For more information see: Change control and Data drop.
A Request for Information (RFI) (occasionally referred to as a Technical Query) is a formal question asked by one party to a contract on a construction project to the other party. Typically this will be a request from the contractor to the client’s consultant team, but it may be between any of the parties, for example from a sub-contractor to a contractor. For more information see: Request for Information
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