To get the most out of CMMS using COBie, it is essential to clearly define the needed data. Telling a software provider, architect, engineer, contractor, or consultant, "I want COBie" is the same as saying to a car dealer , "I want to buy a car" and handing over $15,000. You might want a sports car, but the dealer wants to make money and could offer to sell a used mini-van. By failing to communicate expectations, at least one party is likely to be disappointed.
When applying this to the use of the COBie standard for maintenance management, it is important for managers to clearly state the type of information required and the needed level of detail. In order to populate the required information into a CMMS, it is critical that any contractual documents between the maintenance management team and the service provider clearly document the information managers request.
The current best practice should be to provide a description that is as detailed as possible about managers' data needs. Although providing a great level of detail might seem time-consuming, it shows is serious about having a populated CMMS and understands the value.
Managers can use COBie to improve organizational effectiveness by determining asset data to collect and support the population of CMMS with this data in order to make smart, proactive decisions. It is important to remember that COBie does not have a prescribed list of assets. It is up to each management team, regardless of the size of the team or parent organization, to determine the targeted assets and data. Managers can use the equipment schedules provided during design, as well as the most important maintainable equipment the CMMS commonly tracks, to determine the data to collect using COBie.
Now is the time for managers to act. Software tools with the necessary functionality are available, and the standard and contracting structures exist. Managers and their teams need to determine the essential data and its uses. Answering essential questions up front will help to reduce costs while adding value to the department, positively impacting the mission of the organization the maintenance and engineering team supports.
Managers can consult the COBie Guide.
Angela Lewis, P.E., PhD is a project manager with Facility Engineering Associates in Fairfax, Va. Birgitta Foster, BSME, MBA is the former facilities BIM champion at Sandia National Laboratories. She advises organizations on the advantages of BIM for facility management and design for maintenance when not in her role as assisting director at buildingSMART alliance.
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