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Information Delivery Manuals

by Jan Karlshøj last modified Mar 10, 2011 08:31 AM

The facility and construction industries are characterized by bringing many different companies and authorities together in a project specific organisation. In order to work efficiently it is necessary for all participants in the organisation to know which and when different kind of information has to communicated. The issue is even more important when digital tools are applied, since most ICT tools have a very low threshold of tolerance when it comes to the ability to interpret digital data.  The ISO 29481-1:2010 “Building information modelling - Information delivery manual - Part 1: Methodology and format” standard has been developed by buildingSMART in order to have a methodology to capture and specify processes and information flow during the lifecycle of a facility.


The methodology can be used to document existing or new processes and describe the associated information that have to be exchanged between parties. The output from the standard can afterwards then been used to specify a more detailed specification that if necessary can form the basis for a software development process.

It is important to state that in order to make an information delivery manual operational it has to be supported by software. The main purpose of an information delivery manual is to make sure that the relevant data are communicate in such a way they can be interpreted by the software at the receiving side.

The methodology is today accepted as an ISO standard. It is expected that additional material will be added to the standard in order to make it more specific in relation to the documentation of the exchange scenarios, as well as to have well-defined stages in a communication process between parties. A number of IDM projects were started simultaneously as the methodology was developed.


Several of the IDM project have lead to specifications that have been tested in real construction projects or competitions. The concept is today explored and collaborative efforts are being made in order to make IDMs that can be used. Despite the progress it is conclusive that it is a challenge to make IDMs in some areas, because there is a lack of structured and well-documented processes. In such cases, it is necessary to agree on the processes and the relevant activities and exchange requirements. In some cases it is necessary to have the IDM development work followed by a software development phase. This means that if the software development is nonexistent it will not be possible to get the expected results. It is therefore crucial to make sure that the initiator behind an IDM has a clear strategy on how to get the IDM implemented in software solutions.