It’s all in the Data

In just the past couple of years, we have seen a tenfold increase in the amount of data contained in models. As we move from a model-centric to a data-centric approach, data management will become more and more critical.

The challenge with this increase in data density, is the need to know what the data is, how it is to flow through a project and how to manage it. This is where Data Maps can come in — a Data Map being the project’s roadmap on how this is accomplished. Data management can be broken down into two primary areas: Model Data Management and Project Data Management.

Model Data Management deals with the ability to break the model down into its simplest format — a database — and harvest that information for Model Based Estimating, Project Management and Facilities Management. Recently, an increase in the number of software providers, such as Assemble, Autodesk BIM 360, Scenario and VEO, are all attempting to do just that. Unfortunately, there is yet to be one all-encompassing solution, requiring the combination of several software programs in order to fit a team’s processes and needs.


An example of this is the combination of Revit, Navisworks, Autodesk QTO, Assemble and Maximo to provide information over the entire lifecycle of the project. One important point to remember is to adapt the software to your needs instead of your needs to the software’s capabilities. Doing so will prevent you from having to change your procedure every time a new version of the software is adopted and limiting your abilities to the capabilities of the software.

Project Data Management relates to the project as a whole. This includes 3D models, 2D drawings, submittals, communications, meeting minutes, etc. With project teams spread across multiple locations, it is imperative that people have access to the right information at the right time. To ensure this, the following points must be taken into consideration:

  • Does this platform (hardware and software) allow for version files? (i.e. Does it allow you to save a file with the same name and keep the old copy also?)
  • For security concerns, can access to files and folders be restricted to control ability to only view instead of edit?
  • Is this platform interoperable with other team members?
  • Does this platform charge per user or is cost based on storage?
  • Is this platform scalable so storage space can be added as needed?
  • What happens to the files/data at completion of the project?

The decisions your team makes for data management can improve your project’s quality, enabling an efficient and timely delivery. Better data management helps avoid costly change orders and rework by providing the most up-to-date information to all stakeholders at the right time.

1 Comment

  1. Regarding your final bullet point, "what happens to the files/data at completion of the project?"

    As a provider of software for facilities management, I represent the building owner point-of-view. We're working with our clients to try and get something more at contract completion than boxes of paper, and something less that all the data required by the contractor. We're looking for the most relevant subset of the mass of data that will be most useful for post-construction building lifecycle management.

    Ideally, we'd like to extract that data subset from the as-built model. That, of course, assumes that the model is maintained throughout the project lifecycle. Too much data becomes just noise for the owner. I'd be interested in what others are doing for the completion hand-off.

Leave a reply