At the project outset, the Employer should define their project information strategy including their information requirements and details on data exchanges, when and in what format. Essentially the employer should have clear strategic goals and use cases for the data and information generated through the project life-cycle.

The employer should then develop a CDE strategy that responds to their information strategy and data exchange plan both in the context of the construction stage Project Information Model (PIM) and at the operational stage Asset Information Model (AIM) for all the assets in an Employer’s portfolio or estate.

It is important to remember that that regardless of what BIM maturity you are working at, the CDE should be a main priority for any organisation wishing to work within a BIM enabled environment. A project may also have more than one CDE. For example, designers and contractors may have their own CDEs for  day to day working and sharing information, while the client may have their own CDE for receiving and publishing data when complete.

There are different CDE options that an organisation shoudl consider:-

Enterprise level AIM CDE

With this solution the CDE will cover multiple projects and usually has unlimited number of users. This strategy allows the employer a view of their information across their entire estate and supports the information processes identified in PAS1192-3 for information management stage during the operational stage. 

An enterprise level AIM CDE is a major invesment for an organisation. It should go through a detailed business case to determine functional requirements and intergration with other systems before instigating a procurement process. 


Design & Construction Stage CDE

With this solution the CDE is being procured to support the information delivery lifecycle on a singular project.

The design & construction stage CDE should be instigated as early as possible in the process, it can be bought either by the employer or as a service as part of the project from the supply chain such as the lead designer or main-contarctor. Usually the WIP is undertaken by the various domains such as architecture, engineering etc. using their own technologies and systems for data storage and sharing. This shared and published documentation environment is often provided as a service by the lead designer or main contractor, provision for this service should be clearly defined in the EIR including number of employer licences, training requirements, built in viewers etc. As the CDE is normally a cloud-based environment it is important the employer also considers their infrastructure to ensure data and information can be efficiently, accessed, shared and maintained. 

This Shared and Published Information Environment provides the employer and their suppliers with the capability to manage the coordination and dissemination of models and electronic documentation in a consistent manner.  It is important the chosen CDE be configured to support the processes and procedures described in BS1192:2007 and PAS 1192-2.

It is important that the employer considers early on data archiving and transfer into AIM environment. The transfer of data and information should be a gradual transition as trade packages become complete.

Mindful security should also be considered when developing the CDE strategy with regards mitigating information management risks and determining appropriate CDE technology solutions. The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure [CPNI] has prepared guidance on Common Data Environments for BIM Level based on Implementing Cloud security Principles (NCSC, 2016), but tailored to address the requirements of a CDE accessed by users from both the employer/asset owner and by suppliers/contractors. It should be read alongside PAS 11992-5 as both use a common set of terms and definitions. The guidance can be downloaded at:

A template scoping document when procuring a Common Data Environment can be found at the following link.