Line of Sight

Dave Philp and Dr Jennifer Schooling set out a new approach that provides organisations with a line of sight between assets and organisational objectives to enable better outcomes. 

Dave Philp, impact director at the Construction Innovation Hub.

Many organisations struggle to make a clear and quantified link between the function and condition of an individual asset within a system – be it a building or a railway network – and the value that it brings in terms of delivering organisational objectives. This has consequences. Not having a line of sight between these individual points of reference can, for example, make it hard to justify investment in a substantial piece of maintenance or to prioritise works and management interventions when, as inevitably happens, there is more to be done than there is budget available. 

A new approach designed to help provide a line of sight has been co-developed by the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction (CSIC), at the University of Cambridge, in partnership with Costain and the Construction Innovation Hub (the Hub). The Line of Sight Methodology helps translate professional BIM asset management information requirements into organisational objectives that can be useful and understandable to senior management who may not themselves be built environment professionals. Importantly it helps with apportioning value that built environment assets bring to the business and identify the information about those assets that is vital in helping to deliver the organisational objectives.

The CEO of a hospital trust, for example, might not include the heating, cooling and air conditioning equipment in the building as top of their worry list. More time and focus will probably be directed towards the allocation and availability of medical staff resources – it is more likely that the number and condition of highly utilised equipment, such as expensive MRI or CT scanners, is of immediate concern. The CEO will rely on built environment professionals to manage the building and its systems and while these assets and systems are important to the CEO’s ability to deliver healthcare, there is not a direct line of sight between those assets and the associated service delivery in the same way there is for the in-high-demand scanners. 

There needs to be an understanding of how the asset in question helps to deliver the organisational purpose and objectives. Traditionally in BIM systems we are familiar with the concept of asset information management (AIM) and asset information requirements (AIR). We are also used to the concept of organisational information requirements (OIR). However, it is often challenging for client organisations to really work out which organisational information requirements are meaningful in the context of their built environment assets. It’s also challenging for organisations to link their organisational information requirements to their asset information requirements. 

The Line of Sight Methodology does this by introducing the concept of functional information requirements (FIR) which help everybody in the chain to understand the link between the asset and the information that the asset manager gathers in terms of asset information requirements, the function it supplies to the business, and how that function helps to achieve organisational objectives. 

For example, in the case of a bridge in a railway system, the structural engineer needs to understand the condition of the bridge. What might not be quite so clear to them is the details of how that bridge helps to deliver the function of having trains running on time – the organisational objective. Having a line of sight helps link what the structural engineer knows and understands with what the route asset manager knows and understands with, in turn, what the rail operations director knows and understands. It helps them all understand what information they need from whom. The Line of Sight Methodology provides a structured way of both defining and linking those information requirements together in an information architecture.

In summary, this approach provides a line of sight for information requirements and enables an organisation to gather the information required to support organisational objectives and to optimise the use of the information gathered to achieve better-informed decision-making processes for operational, financial, social and environmental outcomes.

Dave Philp is impact director at the Construction Innovation Hub, and Dr Jennifer Schooling is director of the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction.

David Philp will present ‘Implementing Government Soft Landings and the Line of Sight Methodology’ at Digital Construction Week, Wednesday 24 November at 3pm. Click here for further information and to book your place at the event.

If you would like to contact Rob O’Connor about this, or any other story, please email roconnor@infrastructure-intelligence.com.