Collaboration in construction: the essence of ISO 19650 and how a CDE helps with that

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Demi-Jo Smith, March 25, 2024

It’s pretty simple in construction: on your own, it gets pretty tough to deliver an entire structure. So you need others. But cooperating with all those different partners is not always that simple. Fortunately, we can then fall back on ISO 19650. The what? Indeed, ISO 19650 forms the backbone of effective collaboration processes, focusing on the management of information throughout the entire life cycle of a structure. It is increasingly being requested by clients, so we list for you exactly what it means, why it is important and how you can comply with it using software.

ISO 19650 status in Prostream

What is ISO 19650?

ISO 19650, also known as NEN-EN-ISO 19650, is an international standard for managing digital information. It is about secure and standardised cooperation between all parties involved, think of clients, architects, contractors and subcontractors. The standard is enforced worldwide and applies to all information collected during the lifetime of a structure, from the development to the operational phase.

Originally, ISO 19650 was created to establish a common standard within Building Information Modelling (BIM). In this way, it was hoped to encourage the construction industry to use BIM. Over time, however, the standard evolved into a more widely applicable, official NEN standard.

The standard describes collaborative processes that make managing information as effective as possible. In doing so, it provides a general description of the terms Level of Information Need (LOIN), Exchange Information Requirements (EIR), BIM Execution Plan (BEP) and Common Data Environment (CDE).

With the increasing demand for compliance with ISO 19650, it is imperative to ensure that your company is compliant.

Why is ISO 19650 important?

There is no escape for serious construction companies: compliance with ISO 19650 as the official NEN standard is necessary. In the market, there is a growing need for conformity and this creates external pressure from clients: you won’t be building if you don’t comply. In addition, there are increasingly internal motivations to optimise cooperation processes. And that is precisely where this standardisation helps.

As a tool for improved collaboration within teams, ISO 19650 not only provides a framework for structured information management, it is also a response to increasing demand from clients. With the increasing demand for compliance with ISO 19650, it is imperative to ensure that your company complies so that clients (continue to) choose you.

What are the benefits of ISO 19650?

Despite the fact that it may feel like yet another new regulation, there are actually benefits to be gained from working on the basis of ISO 19650. For example, the standard helps achieve business goals, because:

  • Errors are identified in time and can therefore be prevented;
  • Time and costs are saved by working more efficiently;
  • Cooperation between all different parties is simplified;
  • Adequate procurement is promoted;
  • Safety is increased;
  • Costs are made predictable.

How do I comply with ISO 19650?

To comply with ISO 19650, you need to have a structured process for collecting, managing and exchanging information during all phases of a construction work. This includes using BIM standards, establishing clear responsibilities for project participants and ensuring proper documentation and information management.

You can find the specific requirements of ISO 19650 by purchasing the official documentation from ISO’s website (www.iso.org) or from NEN’s website (www.nen.nl). These documents contain detailed information about the standard, including guidelines and requirements for implementation.

Using NEN Connect, you can always view the latest version of a standard. This ensures you are working with the most up-to-date information.

With a CDE as a central system, you simplify collaboration processes and ensure compliance with the standard.

How does a CDE contribute to ISO 19650?

Understanding a complex standard like ISO 19650 and maintaining compliance can be labour-intensive and error-prone. Fortunately, there are tools to support you in this. Consider, for instance, a CDE; the term was briefly dropped earlier in this article.

With a CDE as a central system, you simplify collaboration processes and ensure compliance with the standard. By using such construction software, you can increase your company’s efficiency, minimise human error and seamlessly integrate the standard with existing work processes.

Prostream: a practical example

To comply with ISO 19650, it is important, among other things, that each document or file is given a status. In Prostream, this can be done on the basis of metadata. In addition to your regular metadata template, you give files an extra metadata field: an ISO 19650 status. This metadata field offers a choice of three different statuses. A document is:

  • Work In Progress (WIP) – Documents have the status ‘WIP’ when they are still being worked on. In Prostream, WIP documents are files without a status icon. To keep control over who can see a document version with this status, assign permissions. Do you want someone to be able to see these documents? Then set the permissions so that a user (or a group of users) can see all versions of the document, regardless of status. In practice, this is often done for an internal (project) group.
  • Shared – It is possible in Prostream to mark files with a green tick. You can give that green tick a name of your own. To comply with ISO 19650, you can choose to give this tick the designation ‘Shared’. You give documents the status ‘Shared’ when they are shared, for instance to retrieve feedback. In Prostream, you assign permissions where a user or group can only see documents with a ‘Shared’ status. That way, they only see files with the green tick. In practice, this often happens for external users.
  • Published – In Prostream, you can also tag files with an ice crystal. You can name that ice crystal yourself. From an ISO 19650 point of view, you can give the ice crystal the designation ‘Published’. You give files the status ‘Published’ when they are finalised and ready to work with. You assign permissions in Prostream that allow a user or group to see only the documents with an ice crystal. In practice, this often happens with a different group of external users than the ‘Shared’ documents are shared with.

You can display documents with different statuses in several ways within Prostream. You can do this by choosing:

  1. A folder view (based on a folder structure);
  2. Saved searches;
  3. A personalised view.