Forming a Brief

Hello BIMfans,
If any of you have friended followed connected to me on LinkedIn, you may have read my post on The Great British BIM off.  In essence, the post used Bake off to demonstrate that clearer a brief is, the easier it is to supply the employer with a satisfactory product or service.  Otherwise, elements (including cakes) can be open to interpretation.

This is how briefs often work (I love

To show what I mean, here are two briefs for the same ‘project’.

Version 1:

“Can you please bake my son a birthday cake?”

Kids still like Minecraft don’t they?

Version 2:

“Can you please bake a nut free (my son is allergic) chocolate cake with Spider-man icing for my son’s Superhero themed birthday party the day after tomorrow for him and his 11 friends?”

With great cake comes great responsibility

It is clear which of these two briefs more likely to give the best result.  Version 2 is a better brief because it is SMART:

  • (S)Specific = The cake needs to be Spider-man themed, chocolate, nut free, and be big enough for  12 people;
  • (M)Measurable = Need 1 cake, and it is clear when the task is done;
  • (A) Achievable = It is possible to bake such a cake;
  • (R) Realistic =  The cake can be done in the time given; and
  • (T) Timely = The cake is needed for the day after tomorrow.

When it comes to capturing information requirements, the document that captures the SMART objects in regards to data producing, managing, and sharing information on behalf of the employer is known as an Employer’s Information Requirements (EIR).

Employer’s Information Requirements, as a document, is fairly simple by definition. It outlines two sets of requirements:  What information is needed and when, as well as any standards, methods, and procedures that need to be followed when producing this information.

A definition is one thing, but what about content?  Well, there are guides for this. PAS 1192-2 is a core BIM Level 2 document that specifies how to undertake information management during the capital phase (when an asset is being designed and built).  Within this document, it defines what content should be in Employer’s Information Requirements under section 5.3 by providing which can be used as a framework.  However, subheadings only go so far, so it would really help if there was support relating to what information should go into each subheading.  Luckily, there is.

Guidance on the content can be found in several places.

The first is the BIM Task Group‘s EIR Core Content Guidance Document, which, to be honest, is a bit dated.  However, there are still plenty of useful elements that I will be able to extract and use.

The second is PAS 1192-3, a core BIM Level 2 document which specifies information management during the operational phase (when an asset is in use).  Within this document, it defines the basis for Employer’s Information Requirements, by stating several feeder documents from your organization and your asset team (neither of which I have for my house!).

Finally, there are also two core BIM Level 2 Standards that have been written to support the briefing process BS 8536-1 (for buildings) and BS 8536-2 (for infrastructure).  These Standards not only outline the core plan of work stages, but also key activities, and documents a supply chain would be expected to deliver.  As my home is a building, I will be focusing on BS 8536-1.

However, there is also a fourth feeder, my Plain Language Questions (PLQ).  The Plain Language Questions capture information requirements in simple terms against the project milestones.  The idea is that the supply team develops their information to the point where they can answer all of the questions for that particular milestone, giving both the employer and their supply team confidence that the project is proceeding as intended.

So before I write my Employer’s Information Requirements, I’m going to need some Plain Language Questions

Note:  If you have any comments regarding how to form a brief, then please let me know either on Twitter, or by commenting below.

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