The correct implementation of Common Data Environment (CDE) status codes and workflow are key for successful delivery of BIM projects. In this article, we discuss how to use them effectively to maximise the BIM benefits.
The Common Data Environment and metadata
The Common Data Environment, also known as CDE, is defined in ISO 19650 Part 1 as a ‘combination of technical solutions and process workflows.‘ Generally, the CDE solution is a software or online tool that facilitates the management and exchange of information in BIM projects. Some of the most typical Common Data Environment solutions used in the engineering industry in the UK are ProjectWise, BIM 360 and Business Collaborator.
One of the key elements that differentiate a CDE from a traditional file manager is the presence of specific metadata. The metadata is a set of data that gives information about other data. ISO 19650 series requires, as a minimum, the following metadata within the Common Data Environment:
- A container unique ID (set as the file name)
- A revision code
- A status code
- A classification code
CDE solutions may also include extended metadata, such as author name, description, issue date, etc.
The CDE workflow
For the purposes of this article, we will focus on the status code. This code was previously referred to as ‘suitability’ code, in the superseded PAS1192 series. As the name suggests, the status code indicates the status of each file (information container) at any given point in time. Or as the ISO 19650-1 clause 12.1 puts it, ‘an information container should be assigned a status code as metadata to show the permitted use of the information container.‘
The Common Data Environment status code plays a key role within the CDE workflow. The CDE workflow represents how the information containers develop from one stage to another. Within the CDE workflow, we find the following states:
- Work In Progress (WIP) state
- Shared (and Client Shared, separately) state
- Published state
- Archive state
Visualising the CDE workflow
When an information container is created, it begins in a Work In Progress state. If we take the design of a building as an example, once the first draft of the structural design is finalised, the native file moves from WIP to Shared state. Then, the model can be used to coordinate with other disciplines. After carrying out the coordination, it is likely that the structural model will need adjustments. In this case, the model returns to a WIP state in order to implement such changes. The information container can thus cycle from WIP to Shared and back to WIP for as many iterations as needed.
When the design is finalised, it can go from Shared to Client Shared, so that the client can also provide feedback on it. Then, the model returns to WIP to implement the client’s feedback. Once everybody is happy with the information, the container moves to Published state, and it becomes available to other stakeholders, such as contractors or the public. Whilst this CDE workflow occurs, new revisions of the information containers are created, and old ones are continuously being archived so that they can be accessed if necessary.
Common Data Environment status codes for the UK
Re-visiting the Common Data Environment status codes, it is important to notice how these codes drive the CDE workflow. As the information container moves from one state to another, the status code also changes to reflect the new state. Thus, the status codes have a double function. On the one hand, they clarify what the information should be used for (for information, for coordination, etc.) and, by extension, what it should not be used for. Conversely, the CDE status codes clarify where information resides within the CDE workflow, as we will see below.
The National Annex within ISO19650-2 provides standardised status codes for the UK. They are as follows:
- Work In Progress (WIP)
- S0: initial status
- Shared (non-contractual)
- S1: suitable for coordination
- S2: suitable for information
- S3: suitable for review and comment
- S4: suitable for stage approval
- S5: currently withdrawn and not in use
- S6: suitable for PIM authorisation
- S7: suitable for AIM authorisation
- Published (contractual)
- A1, A2, An, etc.: authorised and accepted (contractual revision)
- B1, B2, Bn, etc.: partial sign-off with comments (preliminary revision)
- Published (for AIM acceptance)
- CR: as constructed record document (contractual revision)
Get your status codes right for successful BIM delivery
As we can see, the status code tells us how we can use the information (for coordination, for review, etc.), and also where in the CDE workflow the information exists (Shared, Published, etc.). For example, an MEP model has a status code of S1 in the Common Data Environment. Automatically, we know that we can use this model for coordination, but not for review or stage approval. At the same time, we know that it is in the Shared state (non-contractual, that is, under internal use), and therefore cannot be used for contractual purposes, such as tender or construction.
In summary, the Common Data Environment status codes are an integral part of any BIM project. It is therefore essential that we use them correctly if we want successful project outcomes.