From BIM to Facility Management

BIM (Building Information Modeling) has become an essential tool in building architecture and construction. Creating a logical, structured model of all information related to a building project can help the project move seamlessly from one phase to the next.

BIM helps keep building projects on schedule and on budget. It helps ensure regulatory compliance. It helps facilitate the necessary collaboration that must occur between a project’s planning and eventual construction. A quality BIM also helps keep stakeholders involved in the process, adding a kind of transparency that inspires trust and confidence.

For most people, the notion of a Building Information Model implies a detailed 3-dimensional rendering of a building. With the 3D imaging and design software technology available today, it is true that designers and architects are enjoying powerful new tools to do their jobs, and these 3D models are in fact a big part of BIM. They are not, however, what BIM is all about.

A typical BIM will include not only detailed renderings of the planned building, but also specific information related to the engineering, construction, and operation of the building. This information can include designs, architectural specifications, site information, material sheets, budgets, schedules, personnel and more. BIM is not only useful in the design and construction of a building, but can also be very helpful in the management of the building once construction is complete.

COBie

In 2007, a pilot standard was developed by Bill East of the United States Army Corps of Engineers for the delivery of building information that is essential to the operations, maintenance, and asset management of a building once construction is complete. COBie (Construction Operations Building Information Exchange) was accepted by the National Institute of Building Sciences in December 2011 as part of its National Building Information Model (NBIMS-US) standard.

COBie is used to capture and record essential project data at the point of origin, including: product data sheets, spare parts lists, warranties, and preventive maintenance schedules. COBie’s popularity is increasing, and in September 2014 it was included in a code of practice issued as a British standard (BS 1192-4:2014 “Collaborative production of information Part 4: Fulfilling employer’s information exchange requirements using COBie – Code of practice”). This standard will require contractors involved in the construction of government buildings to comply with COBie when delivering facility information to the building owner after construction is completed.

While this expectation in Britain is controversial, and it has been characterized as “unrealistic”, it is becoming increasingly clear that the information involved in Building Information Models can, should, and will be used to aid in the maintenance and management of the building after its construction. This is where BIM becomes facility management, and this is where some enterprising software developers are creating a new market for themselves.

Some developers of BIM software have expanded their product portfolios by including Facility Management products that transfer the information from BIMs into a useful format for operating and maintaining the constructed building. This seems to be a natural extension of BIM, and these companies will benefit greatly by placing themselves ahead of their competition in what is nearly certain to become a large and lucrative market.

In the space between BIM and Facility Management, there is often a need for greater automation. The exchange of building information today frequently requires a tremendous amount of labor – an amount of labor described in man-years.

Often, facility managers are provided several large boxes of paper documents, from which they must manually retrieve asset information and maintenance schedules to be entered into Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS). This process usually involves pallets of boxes full of paper of operations and maintenance manuals and drawings. Imagine the time required to create, review and transcribe hundreds of pages of documents, validate the transcriptions, and manually enter data, assuming a system like a CMMS is even used.

Even if a CMMS is used, maintenance technicians often still need to search for information in these paper boxes to complete many of their jobs. As time passes, documents can be moved or lost, increasing the cost of maintenance activities and potentially increasing downtime in mission-critical facilities. A study in 2011 suggested that 8% of annual maintenance budgets could be eliminated if open-standard electronic information were made available to technicians before starting complex work orders.

This is where some BIM software developers are finding a new market by providing the tools to painlessly transfer BIM information into a facility management system. This is also where there are still many who would benefit from an open software platform that allows users to consolidate and organize disparate information, making it available for real-time visualization on any device.

How Organizational Structures Affect Projects and Project Management

It is true that the structure of an organization can have a major impact on project management.

Think about your own experience. Is it difficult to get a traction on your projects? Are there numerous layers of authority that you have to navigate to get approvals for basic tasks? Does your budget get cut because of competition for limited funding? Do your projects lose out in favor of day-to-day routine operations? And you thought it was something you were doing, or failing to do! Well it may have been, but it's more likely that you are feeling the effects of the organizational structure within which you work. Understanding your working environment better will help you to rise above organizational issues and smooth the way to successful project management.

By looking at three different organizational structures – functional, matrix and projectised – we will discover how each distinct organizational style affects project management.

  1. Functional Organizational Structure . These firms are organized into functional divisions based on primary functions such as engineering, human resources, finance, IT, planning and policy. Each different functional division operates independently and isolated groups of workers in a division report to a functional manager. The functional manager generally both allocates and monitors the work and carries out tasks such as performance evaluation and setting payment levels. In this model project managers have very limited authority. Functional organizations are set up for ongoing operations rather than projects and so this organizational structure is often found in firms which primary purpose is to produce standardized goods and services.
  2. Matrix Organizational Structure. In a matrix organization control is shared. The project manager shares responsibility for the project with a number of individual functional managers. Shared responsibilities can include assigning priorities and tasks to individual team members. But functional managers still make the final decisions on who will work on projects and are still responsible for administration. Project managers take charge of allocating and organizing the work for the designated project team. In this type of structure there is a balance between ongoing operations and projects, so it is a common structure for organizations that have these dual roles. For instance, local body organizations that are responsible for both maintaining existing infrastructure (ongoing operations) and commissioning the construction of new infrastructure (projects) often have matrix structures.
  3. Projected Organizational Structure. In a projectised organization the project manager has full authority over the project. This includes the authority to set priorities, apply resources, and to direct the work of the project team. All members of the team report directly to the project manager and everyone is assigned to a project. After completion of the project, resources will be re-assigned to another project. This type of structure is common in firms that work on size-able, long-term projects, such as in the construction industry.

Take a moment to reflect on which type of organizational structure you work in before we move on to discuss how these organizational structures affect projects. Then see if you recognize any of the issues raised.

So what are the implications for project management?

In a functional organization, projects that exist within a single functional division generate no particular organizational issues, but projects that cut across functional divisions can be challenging to manage. Why? Because the project manager has no direct functional authority and must obtain continuous cooperation and support from functional managers of other divisions in order to meet project objectives. This can get complicated.

Because the matrix structure gives authority to both project managers and functional managers the income is to provide a more seamless division of labor and extremely to build a stronger team culture. However, the potential for conflict between functional managers and project managers still exists because there is still resource conflict. Everyone who is on a project team has two bosses – their functional manager as well as their project manager.

In a projectised organization authority is centralized. Because projects are removed from functional divisions the lines of communication are shortened. Both these factors enhance the ability to make swift decisions. Project teams develop a strong sense of identity which in turn creates a high level of commitment from team members. Due to their involvement in consecutive projects of a similar nature projectised organizations can develop and maintain a long-term body of experience and skills in specialized areas.

It is clear that projectised organizations make it easier to run projects because the entire structure is set up for that purpose. But if you are managing a project within other organizational structures, then recognizing and understanding the impacts will raise your awareness of the potential project management pitfalls, so that you can be proactive about resolving them. Communication, conflict resolution and team building will be key to your success.

Renting Your Next Holiday Home

Renting your holiday home!

The DIY holiday property rental market has increased dramatically over the last few years. This is due to various factors including the explosion of the internet, a desire to cut out the commission charged by the high street travel agent, and the satisfaction of bringing one’s own research to fruition.

So what makes a good holiday home?

Requirements from a holiday home will differ from group to group and as will indeed the reason for the holiday. It is best to make a list for both, so that when you do your research you cover all the bases.

Expanding this point. You know your family or friends who will be holidaying with you. Would they be content to be in a remote spot, or do they prefer to be within walking distance of bars and restaurants and of course the beach? Do they wish to be near leisure activities such as horse riding or golf? If you have grandparents with you don’t forget that they may well want to be able to do there own thing. They will not want to be with you 24 x 7, they might wish to be able to walk into the village/town/resort to get treats for the kids, or just to have an hour on there own. Make sure you ask them what they want to get from the holiday. If you have teenagers/young adults with you, they may not thank you if there is nowhere to go ‘clubbing’. The aim is to keep everyone happy.

Villas

Renting villas for holidays is very popular, they provide a general feeling of luxury. A villa sleeping traditionally 2-20 can often be cheaper than renting a room or rooms in an apartment or hotel. Most villas come complete with an outdoor pool. However wonderful it sounds you must consider Health and Safety issues. Not many pools will be fenced off so you will have to watch small children closely. If teenagers remember they might be able to swim, however consider the effects of alcohol. Even a glass of wine over the family lunch can take effect in the heat! The good thing about villas are that one is not tied to meal times and you can do just as you please, eat outdoors or in, on site or go out.

Apartments

Apartments are one of the favourites with teenagers and families. The good thing about apartments is that they are normally grouped together around gardens/pools with a bar or and restaurant. If you have children or teenagers they can make new friends and to some extent amuse themselves. The owners may put on some entertainment. Check the advert for full details. The quality of apartments can vary so make sure you know what you are booking. There are varying types of rooms available ranging form studio’s, to 1, 2 or even 3 bedrooms. Fully consider your needs before make a booking. I always like to have more room than I need on holiday. So for example depending on price, for 2 persons, I tend to book a one bed roomed apartment rather than a studio. This provides that extra bit of space for your baggage.

Important points to consider when making your decision.

Cleaning: You will be expected to keep the villa/apartment reasonably clean and tidy. Check the detail on the website. One can sometimes arrange for someone to come and do the basics for you. This might be included in the price or incur an additional charge.

Linen change: Again check the detail regarding linen changes. Most adverts will offer a change on a 14 night holiday, however some will charge additional monies as well! If it is not clear on the advert ask! Also check regarding the provision of towels. Some properties provide even the beach towels which will save you quite a bit of weight for a large family. More room for duty free goods!

Directions: When booking check how you will receive the address and directions from the airport. Often the website permits these to be down loaded once full payment is obtained. Ask where the keys are collected from. It is not unusual to collect them form under the geranium pot outside, but you do need to know.

Terms and conditions: Make sure you fully read and understand these fully! These will inform you as the following: The time you can enter and must leave the premises, (You can sometimes re-arrange this to fit in with flight times); Security Deposits (This is a refundable deposit. A claim can be made against by the owner/agent for loss or breakages); and cancellation charges.

Welcome packs: Welcome packs are often either provided for free or at a modest cost, (on a per person basis). A pack will see you through your drink and possibly light meal. That said I know some owners/agents who supply a feast fit for a king or queen. Again check the advert. If a pack is not free do consider your arrival time at your holiday home. Will the shops be open? If likely to be closed you will be grateful for the basics to be delivered for you.

Vehicle hire: Some companies will provide vehicle hire as part of the package. Check the details. Your own car is very useful for getting around and seeing the best the area has to offer. Remember to take your driving licence with you. If a vehicle is not provided shop around as prices do vary. But please be wary. Some companies abroad are as not as health and safety conscious as others. Expect to pay for extras such as extended insurance cover, child seats or harnesses. When you collect the vehicle you will very likely be asked to hand over your credit card for details to be obtained. Make sure you fully check for dents and scratches when you collect it and when you drop if off. I know of several people who have been charged against there credit card for fresh scratches. They denied all knowledge but to no avail!

Travel Insurance: By law you are legally bound to have travel insurance. You will not however be prosecuted if you do not have it. It is simply your responsibility. Policies differ. Make sure you have full and financially adequate cover. Beware of cheap policies. They are not cheap if you end up not being covered. Do not put you or your family at risk. If you are holidaying in Europe make sure you also have a European Health Insurance Card. The card entitles you to free or reduced cost treatment in European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland.

Finally enjoy your holiday it is what we all work for!

Kevin Gale

Herbal Medicines

Herbal Medicine is the oldest form of health care known to mankind. Herbs have been used in all cultures and form an integral part of modern civilization. Cave men studied the effects on animals when they ate certain plants and through trial and error each tribe will have added the medicinal powers of herbs to their own knowledge base. They systematically collected information on plants and herbs and developed well defined pharmacopoeias.

In the 20th century much has been learned from the herbal lore of native peoples and much of the scientific medicine has been derived from this lore. Many of the drugs used today are derived from plant material in fact about 25% of the prescription drugs issued today in the US contain at least one ingredient that has been derived from plant material. For example the powdered leaf of the foxglove plant is known as the cardiac stimulant digitalis which keeps millions of heart patients alive worldwide. St Johns Wort has become very popular as an alternative to Prozac, without the side effects, to help with mild depression.

The World Health Organization noted that of about 120 plant-dervived pharmaceutical drugs around 74% are used in modern medicine in ways that directly correlate to their traditional uses by native cultures. Extensive research is currently being carried out by major pharmaceutical companies on plant material collected from rainforests and other places to test their medicinal value.

Many people are starting to turn more and more to herbal cures for what ails them. The over prescription of antibiotics has left us with a legacy of "superbugs" on which modern medicine has little effect at times. Can herbal remedies help? Only time will tell if the "superbugs" are too much for natural cures.

It should be noted that care should be taken when dealing with herbal remedies and that too too much result in side effects. Any herbal supplements should also be obtained from a reputable source.