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Since the release of BS EN ISO 19650 (Parts 1 and 2) there has been a noticeable industry shift towards a standardised approach to information briefing, delivery and management using building information modelling (BIM). ISO 19650 is a series of international standards which define the collaborative processes for the effective management of information throughout the delivery and operational phase of assets when BIM is being used. Here, Organisational Information Requirements (OIR) sub working group member, Ryan Tennyson, Infrastructure technology advisor at Scottish Futures Trust (SFT), provides a briefing on the challenges and opportunities of the  OIR and how they support the delivery and operation of assets, ultimately improving the services they provide.

BIM was never just about the delivery of accurate 3D representations of new buildings and infrastructure, it is about the careful planning, development and coordination of data-rich project models, capable of delivering predefined information sets throughout an asset’s life cycle.

BS EN ISO 19650 outlines a clear responsibility for an appointing party such as clients, including public sector organisations, to understand and specify what project and whole-life asset related information they require from the project outset onwards.

The ISO further describes the importance of the appointing party understanding their Organisational Information Requirements (OIR), which explain the information needed to meet the needs of its asset management system and answer or deliver high level strategic objectives within their organisations. Such requirements can arise from:

  • strategic business operations,
  • strategic asset management,
  • portfolio planning,
  • regulatory duties, or
  • policy making.                                                                 [BS EN ISO 19650-1, 5.2]

This may seem obvious in principle, but in practice it is quite common for UK construction projects to commence work without a clear client brief and appropriate Project Information Requirements (PIR) and Exchange Information Requirements (EIR) in place. Additionally, many client bodies and organisations lack understanding of what information they require at an organisational level to strategically manage the performance and productivity of the assets they own and operate across the whole lifecycle.

BS ISO 55002:2014 ‘Asset management – Management systems…’ states that an asset management system forms an integral part of an organisation’s management system and that the outputs from asset management activities are key inputs into establishing realistic and achievable organisational objectives. Therefore, organisational objectives, asset management objectives and their respective information requirements are intrinsically linked and hence clients should not develop or deliver either in isolation.  

The challenge and opportunity

Whilst the above standards give the definitions, relationships and dependencies of OIR, associated Asset Information Requirements (AIR) and also PIR, they do not prescribe how they should be developed in detail or managed on a live project or programme. 

There are very few industry cases of client organisations developing successful OIR to AIR and PIR, because it requires a top-down approach and extensive stakeholder engagement across multiple business levels.

This can be challenging because stakeholders at opposite ends of the organisational spectrum tend to be disconnected, using different lines of communication and they are generally focused on their own workstreams, objectives and outcomes. By default, information can become decentralised, hard to access and not utilised for wider strategic planning and decision making.

Take for example a team responsible for maintaining pumps or a boiler in a new public building. They are primarily interested in the assets and systems they connect into and the periodical activities required to keep them running efficiently and compliant. The maintenance team will store technical information relating to the assets and possibly capture operational data to check performance and record compliance against any statutory obligations or manufacturer’s warranty requirements.  

Whilst the technical information and operational asset data have no direct value to the boardroom stakeholders, when aggregated with other asset or system information can provide valuable metrics for comparative analysis and evaluation against KPI’s and strategic business objectives. Such examples include:

  • asset level performance vs estate level environmental targets
  • real time energy use vs yearly operational expenditure budgets
  • number of monthly faults and call-outs vs backlog maintenance reduction targets

Although there is a current need for appointing parties to better understand how their information requirements are aligned to their organisational business objectives and intrinsically linked to their asset management systems, in due course the need for well-defined OIR and aligned AIR will also become increasingly important as clients become bound to maintain accurate up-to-date information records of their assets. Known as the ‘golden thread’ of information, this will be a digital record of how a building has been safely designed, constructed and maintained up to its current state. Structured information planning, delivery and management using BIM will be at the heart of this process.

The Public Sector ISO Transition Working Group (PSITWG), which is facilitated by the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) and which I am a member of as the representative of Scottish Futures Trust, are looking to create a standard approach for developing and maintaining OIR and AIR within the public sector. During this year a PSITWG OIR sub-group aims, through wider industry engagement and research, to develop a common OIR/ AIR methodology, which can be adopted and evolved by public sector client organisations and then shared with the wider industry.  

We believe that this work will have real impact helping public sector clients and potentially private sector appointing parties, to develop information requirements which support the delivery and operation of their assets, and ultimately in alignment with their organisational objectives, help better manage and improve the services they provide.  The output will help drive the uptake of BIM, lead to higher levels of built asset performance and support assurance of the golden thread of information.

We would like to hear from those who have expertise in and recent experience of OIR development within client organisations. If you would like to get in touch please email

Author: Ryan Tennyson, Infrastructure technology advisor at Scottish Futures Trust and OIR sub working group member.