Over the years I have worked on projects where we have encountered the need to sift through countless documents and drawings that clients have stored in drawers or on hard drives or servers. The problem that we face when undertaking this information-gathering stage at the start of projects is to disseminate what is reliable and what is current. We wade through the sometimes random numbering and naming systems that consultants have used to document previous stages of works trying to find a complete set of drawings. It is a task that currently takes a considerable amount of time to gain the right level of understanding.

It currently isn’t seen as a big issue by most asset owners as they don’t call upon the documents that often, with minor and major refurbishment works typically occurring every 7 and 15 years respectively. Imagine having the same approach of no structure in your accounting systems with the application of random numbers for your revenue and expense numbers. The need for structure and logic in your accounting system is paramount so why should it be any different with your built asset record systems.

Picture the time you could save in the management of your built assets if you applied the same logic and built a structure in the numbering and naming of documents of your built assets. It would enable consistent naming across stages, disciplines and even sites. Your maintenance staff or facility management team would then be able to locate appropriate documents quickly and easily as the naming structure would be consistent across all documents.

As a first step asset owners should start with specifying the numbering / naming structure for all documents as part of their deliverable requirements. Now for most clients deriving their own numbering / naming structure from scratch is not really a feasible project to undertake. There is a place where asset owners can start and that is by following the British Standard BS1192:2007 + A2:2016. This standard, in my opinion, would be the most current available standard for document numbering / naming. It is also the basis of a yet to be released International Standard ISO19650 which hopefully will be released later this year or early next year.

The second component of BS1192 that could be adopted by asset owners is the use of a Common Data Environment (CDE) paired with Document Status and Suitability. A CDE is a single online location where digital information is collected, managed and shared between stakeholders working on projects throughout the whole lifecycle of a building. When paired with a document status and suitability a user accessing the documents can quickly identify the document (due to consistent naming) and know the document status and suitability by the associated coding.

With Building Information Modelling (BIM) capabilities for the majority of the design and construction industries in Australia still in the learning phases, this first step in efficient information management is achievable by the whole industry as it is just simple file naming and document management.

If you would like assistance in the development of a document numbering / naming system for your built assets or the provision of a CDE for your documents, please don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss your needs.