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How to manage data in the digital age

Document management needs to reflect the changing ways we work

Ever-advancing tech capabilities have given architects new ways of developing and designing projects and fundamentally changed the way we work and manage data and information. Best practice regarding document management and staff buy-in are important. 

At astudio, our documentation management follows a file structure based on our function as a design practice, specifically catered to the nature of its workflow. This focuses on design and project administration and is informed by software that we use: Revit, MicroStation, NewForma and Office 365. 

As the design needs of the sector and technology have evolved, the initiative covers design data production and information exchange. This has involved development of the BIM Protocol, established by the Construction Industry Council as a standardised supplementary legal agreement. 

Document management is an essential aspect of ISO 19650: International Standard for managing information over the whole life cycle of a built assets using BIM. It outlines concepts and principles, and provides recommendations on how to manage building information and supply information management requirements in the delivery phase of assets. The ISO standard is designed to reduce the barriers to collaborative working and competitive tendering across organisations. 

Astudio is a founding member of the BIM4Design Forum, an initiative formed by digital technology representatives of architectural practices to improve BIM processes. This includes design documentation, production, management and exchange. This has meant implementing new document filing systems to speed up communication and navigation of drawing files. BIM4Design Forum engages with industry documentation managers at industry events and within members’ architectural practices, if they wish.

Ensuring staff adhere to document management protocols means giving new starters effective training and resources, first with an induction and comprehensive training on astudio’s intranet site.

For current staff, it’s important that training is refreshed during courses, meetings and internal masterclasses. This ensures everyone adheres to the same standards and ways of working, because ultimately the employer is  responsible for ensuring the protocol is in place.

Keeping your practice at the forefront means staying ahead of industry standards; hence the need for the BIM4Design Forum. Structure and staff enthusiasm sit at the heart of this. As the way we work and technical capabilities evolve, so too will documentation management.

We see its future blending into the delivery of the BIM model, a single source that can document a project’s progress and be a facilities management tool. This will streamline architectural activities towards the design model.


Richard Hyams is director/founder at astudio

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