How to choose the right CDE for BIM compliance

Higher quality builds and more sustainable assets, reduced construction times, lower costs and better collaboration are just a handful of the benefits that BIM compliance can bring to your construction industry projects. They are some of the reasons why, in 2016, the UK government mandated the use of BIM on public funded construction projects. BIM Level 2 has recently been moved to an International Standard known as ISO 19650, although many people still refer to it as BIM.


Common data environments (CDEs) are the platform required to implement BIM. This is because cloud-based CDEs facilitate the principals of the BIM framework – integrated and shared information that’s easy to manage – to bring the following benefits:


  • The ability for project team members to make decisions quickly and assuredly from a single source of information.
  • The relevant documents and data one system that boosts productivity.
  • The ability to help reduce the costs of your projects long term due to being future-proof.

The problem with common data environments is that there are so many on the market and not all of them meet the high standards required for BIM compliance. Many project information managers need guidance on what to look for in a CDE.
Here we will explain what you should look for in a CDE that complies to the UK BIM framework and explain how our BC Projects software might be your perfect solution.
There are many resources available to help you understand what BIM is, so we recommend looking at those if you need to go back to basics.


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How to choose the right CDE for BIM compliance

BIM compliance is the thing you should be looking for in a CDE. Without it, your CDE will be no better than a file storage solution. There are many benefits to be gained from using a CDE including:


  • Reducing project risk management

    Maintain accurate information, records, and audit trails of all project documentation and data


  • Improved project reporting and decision making

    Provides a ‘Single source of truth’ (vs unreliable and inefficient email and file sharing methods)

    Documents and data can be quickly found


  • Better quality project delivery to clients

    Valuable documents and structured digital information available for use by building owner/operators


  • Improved IT and security

    Zero install requirements reducing the IT strain and costs

    Consider the hosting and data security accreditations of your provider



Questions to Consider


Does the common data environment store the correct data in the correct way?

The ability to store and organise the correct data is the bedrock of BIM ideology. This is because managing data as it’s created is the best way to ensure easy future decision making.


  • CDEs need to be able to handle both graphical and non-graphical data created in a BIM environment, as BIM requires ‘3D building information with data attached’. Therefore a CDE should be able to handle IFC 3D models large and small to cope with whatever project you’re working on, as well as the associated data attached to the model. A CDE should not only store data but boost your productivity by delivering the right information to the right people at the right time.

Is it easy to use?

One of the main issues people find when using CDEs is usability. If your teams can’t easily find information, there is poor acceptance or take-up.


  • A CDE should be able to handle industry-standard file-naming conventions and make file searching simple. Look for features such as metadata tags that allow files to be categorised by their content, easy to upload via drag and dropping files, and automatic file naming to remove the confusion and time consuming task of renaming files from suppliers. This sets up your data for easy retrieval in the future.

  • There should generally be four main areas for storing and sharing data, with a sign-off process allowing information to pass from one area to the next. These are Work in Progress (WIP), Shared, Published and Archived.

Can you collaborate with others on the CDE’s stored data?

A CDE is all about gathering data for easy future decision making as well as collaborating with teams, so it should enable you to make decisions assuredly.


  • In terms of access, people should be able to log in to the CDE through their browser, using a laptop, phone or tablet to view information. And in terms of backing up, your cloud-based CDE should automatically save and back up any changes.

  • Many UK organizations also require their data to be hosted and stored in the UK for data protection so this should be a consideration if you are working on sensitive projects.

  • Does it provide a single source of truth for your project?

    A CDE should ensure that every file is always up to date and should record version history for accountability. This ensures that everyone has a single source of truth they know is the most up to date version of information to base decisions upon. This reduces the risk of delays as people search for to right information, or information is lost due to being stored on personal laptops.


What common data environment should you choose?


BC Projects is the best program for implementing BIM into your construction project. By providing a single source of truth, it stops communication errors and ensures decisions are made quickly and easily. By offering you the necessary features in one package it can boost productivity, and by brilliant future-proofing, it will save you money and worry long term.

Business Collaborator (BC), part of Bentley Systems, are experts in BIM implementation. Get in contact with BC to see how their BC Projects program can help you to seamlessly implement BIM into your construction project, quickly and easily.


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