top of page
  • Writer's picturebreakwithanarchitect

The strategic role of international standards in BIM: An introduction to ISO 19650 standards

Updated: Oct 30

This post includes my BIM Coordinators Summit 2022 presentation, which took place on 8th September, where I talked about the strategic role of the ISO 19650 international standards in BIM. Below you will find a summary describing the key points of the presentation.

The strategic role of international standards in BIM: An introduction to ISO 19650 standards

BIM Design Hub

BIM Design Hub

First, I would like to introduce myself. I am an architect with 15 years of experience in construction and the founder of BIM Design Hub, an Autodesk training centre specialising in integrating ISO BIM standards and Autodesk technology in the design and construction process. I am currently researching a PhD in BIM at UCL University in London. You can connect with me on Linkedin here:

BIM Design Hub

I will start the presentation today with a quote from Benjamin Franklin that says the following: the best way to teach someone something new is neither to tell it nor teach it. It is to get people involved. This also applies to BIM and digital construction.

BIM Design Hub

According to the European BIM Task Group, the BIM process relates to four key areas: Process, people, technology and policy. The process area relates to methods and procedures and information management through international and national standards. The people sector is about leadership, collaboration, owner involvement and the development of skills. The area of technology refers to BIM models, simulation and interoperability. Finally, the policy area includes the integration and development of local guidelines and standards, contracts and the legal aspect of the BIM process.

BIM Design Hub

Here, we can see the countries with mandatory use of BIM in public works in red and countries with expected mandatory use of BIM in blue. We can see that northern European countries such as the UK, the Netherlands and the Nordic countries are leading the way in BIM adoption through the mandatory use of BIM in the public sector.

There are also other cases, such as Poland and Lithuania, where the use of BIM is emerging gradually. Korea, China and Japan are promoting BIM adoption through roadmaps and pilot projects. Several studies highlight the importance of the role of the public sector in BIM adoption, which plays various roles such as the regulator, the educator and the researcher.

BIM Design Hub

Since 2011, the UK government and the British standards institution have been developing standards and guidelines to support the adoption and implementation of BIM. Today, the government program called Digital Built Britain works on the strategic plan for the implementation of BIM Level 3.

The UK BIM Framework, created by the UK BIM Alliance, British Standards Institution and Center for Digital BIM Britain, sets out the approach to implementing BIM in the UK using the framework for information management based on the international standard ISO 19650, with a series of guidance documents.

Globally, there are various organizations that develop and support BIM adoption, such as Building Smart International, the EU BIM Task Group, Can BIM, the Hong Kong BIM Institute and others.

BIM Design Hub

Now, let's discuss the BIM adoption drivers. The first driver is considered the international standard ISO 19650, which creates a common ground for implementing BIM in different construction markets. Second, project owners and governments recognize the benefits of BIM in terms of cost and time savings, leading to the mandatory use of BIM in many countries worldwide. Third, construction projects and teams are increasingly geographically dispersed, highlighting the need to adopt digital processes and establish a common language for digital collaboration. Read the blog post ISO 19650 Benefits and Challenges.

BIM Design Hub

Here, we can see some of the BIM guides which have been issued by various countries, organizations, institutions and universities internationally. BIM is used all over the world but it is not equally defined in terms of standards and implementation. An international standard helps the industry agree on a common definition and a single process to increase the efficiency and quality of the implementation process. ISO 19650 is currently implemented in many markets, such as Australia, China and USA, while in Europe the interest in adopting the standard is constantly growing. See also What I learned from studying the ISO 19650 standards.

Also, do you know that the word "ISO" comes from the Greek word "isos" which means equal?

BIM Design Hub

In the diagram, we see the different standards in the construction industry. At the base are the Professional Codes, Guidelines and Best Practices. Next are the company's technical specifications. Following are the private standards and consortia and then the sponsored standards published by the British standards institution, BSI, which are called Publicly Available specifications and are used as a basis for the development of the ISO standards. Following are the national standards (e.g. BS British standards) and the Regional standards (e.g. European standards). Finally, at the top, there are the International Standards, ISO. Watch the Youtube video: ISO 19650 in 3 minutes - The need for BIM standards in digital construction.

BIM Design Hub

Here we see the timeline of standards for the implementation of BIM in the UK from 2007 to 2021. BIM started in the UK in 2011 when the government set a strategic goal of mandatory implementation of BIM in all public works by 2016, known as BIM level 2. The initial BIM Level 2 standards were used as a basis for the development of the ISO 19650 series. The first 2 ISO standards were published in 2018.

BIM Design Hub

Here, we can the ISO 19650 series and the UK BIM standards that are associated with them. The ISO series consists of 5 documents. ISO parts 1 and 2 refer to the Digitisation and organization of data about civil engineering works and buildings, including BIM. ISO 19650-1 has the title Concepts and Principles and part 2 is about the Delivery phase of the assets. ISO part 3 focuses on managing the operational phase of the assets and part 5 describes the security-minded approach to information management. In ISO, there is also a provision for a National Annex that includes relative national standards relating to specific regions or countries.

BIM Design Hub

In the figure, we can see that ISO 19650 is implemented in the life cycle of the asset. The blue line indicates 3 points in the project delivery phase, A is the beginning, B is the development of the digital construction model and C is the delivery phase, where the operational phase begins. In the right figure we can see that the ISO 19650 series is linked to ISO 55000 and ISO 21500, the standards for project and asset management, and ISO 9001, which is about organizational management.

BIM Design Hub

The ISO 19650-1 document describes the concepts and principles of information management. ISO 19650-1 removes barriers to the collaborative process, enhances cross-border tendering and reduces risk and cost through the use of asset models. The document describes the framework for collaboration, the introduction to the Common Data Environment, the functions of information management for the project parties and the information requirements. See also ISO 19650 in 3 minutes-Information Requirements.

BIM Design Hub

ISO 19650-2 defines the management of information. This document helps the owner define the information requirements and determines the right commercial and collaborative environment for information production. The document also describes in detail the activities and tasks of the project parties at each project stage, from the Assessment and Need, to the project close out.

BIM Design Hub

The figure here shows the BIM maturity levels according to ISO. It follows the initial BIM level 2 diagram but also defines 4 BIM development layers, the standards, the technology, the information and the business layers. The implementation of BIM according to the ISO is equivalent to Stage 2.

The BIM stage 2 requirements are:

  • Common data environment

  • Structured and unstructured information

  • The use of the Information Models (PIM, AIM)

  • The implementation of the standards ISO 19650 - 1, ISO 19650 -2

BIM Design Hub

A successful outcome of the adoption of BIM processes according to the ISO 19650 series will have the following characteristics:

  • The clear definition of the information required by the project client or asset owner for the procedures and deadlines for the production and review of information.

  • The quantity and quality of information are sufficient to meet the information requirements.

  • Efficient transfer of information between parties.

  • Informed and timely decision-making.

BIM Design Hub

This diagram derives from ISO and describes the information requirements of a project. Information requirements include the questions that need to be answered to make key project-related decisions at different points during the delivery and operation of an asset. Watch the Youtube video ISO 19650 in 3 minutes - Information Requirements.

First, the owner states what he or she wants to be included in the information requirements. Then the lead appointed party should prepare a response for each requirement about how and when the team will deliver the requirements. The delivery team then delivers and manages the response to each requirement. Finally, the information is managed and approved by the client. In this process, there is feedback between the parties when necessary.

BIM Design Hub

Here we can see the information delivery cycle according to ISO.

To have a better understanding of the cycle, we can consider these questions:

For number 1, what information do I know?

For number 2, what information is needed?

For number 3, can my supply chain support it?

For number 4, who delivers what and when?

For number 5, what are the information exchanges, and how do client decisions affect the process?

And last for number 6, what information do I need to manage the asset?

BIM Design Hub

In ISO, the life cycle is divided into three main stages and eight activities. The first activity is the Assessment and Need. For example, if you wish to build a house, you should define the type of house, the materials, the area, when you want it to be delivered, and others. At this stage, the main active party is the Appointing party, the client.

Then is the Procurement stage. The client will contact potential companies to undertake the project based on the project requirements. The client will then receive different quotes and proposals from the Lead appointed parties and task teams.

Following is the planning stage. After selecting the company, you will agree with them on the project's details, and then the company will mobilize the team and technology to design and construct the house. At this stage, all parties are involved.

Next is the production stage. At this point, the Lead appointed party, and task teams will start to collaborate and design and construct the house.

Before handing over the house, teams will conduct quality control and review the house. If the review is not successful in some aspects of the house, teams will need to start the collaborative production again. If the home is as requested and accepted by the client, then the last activity will be the project closeout. See also 10 reasons why your company needs to adopt ISO 19650

BIM Design Hub

Based on ISO, each member of the project has specific functions for each stage. In green we see the functions of the client which include the definition of the project requirements, the creation of a protocol, the approval of the information, the creation of the common data environment and others. Watch the Youtube video ISO 19650 in 3 minutes - Information Management functions

In blue we see the functions of the lead appointed parties, those parties appointed by the client that include the response to the tender, the planning of the project and the confirmation and management of information.

With purple, we see the functions of the appointed parties, the parties that produce and coordinate the information for the project.

BIM Design Hub

In ISO, there are four types of information requirements: the Organizational, the Asset, the Project, and the Exchange information requirements. The types of requirements relate to each other and contribute to the creation of the Asset and the Project information model, the information deliverables.

BIM Design Hub

The principles of BIM according to the standard define that the discipline's models are created separately and then they are all combined together in the federated model – the composite model that combines all the information of the individual models. In the federated model, we can perform coordination and conflict controls and we can work with other dimensions such as time, cost, management and energy analysis.

BIM Design Hub

The Common Data Environment is also a requirement of ISO 19650. Here we see how the standard defines the collaborative process and efficient exchange of information. The Common Data environment consists of 4 stages in which models are checked, approved, published and stored, thus creating a reliable basis for collaboration during the project development.

BIM Design Hub

This diagram shows the Level of Information Need framework which is a European standard, published in 2020 and is also a requirement of ISO. The Level of information Need is defined by the geometrical and the alphanumerical information and the documentation. The new standard removes the LOD, and the LOI concepts, replacing them with the Level of Information Need. This aligns with the goal of ISO to have ‘one world, one standard’ for all BIM-related aspects.

BIM Design Hub

Another basic principle in BIM implementation in line with ISO 19650 is the open BIM standards. For the successful collaboration between the different software, a series of standards have been created by Building Smart International which facilitates the exchange of information. The best-known standard is the Industry Foundation Classes file type, IFC, which is a file format that allows the exchange of data and geometry between different software, which has been included in ISO standards. On the right, we see other forms of files that relate to the exchange of information in relation to procedures, technical specifications and BIM objects.

In the video above, you can see an overview of ISO 19650 BIM courses offered by our centre. The training is based on ISO 19650-1 and 2 and is delivered through an educational platform with a rich learning environment. The training includes 2 courses, the BIM Foundations and the BIM Information Management. The first course presents the UK BIM standards, the transition to ISO 19650 and the key elements related to information management according to ISO. The second course includes a detailed understanding of the information delivery cycle in line with ISO 19650-2 and describes the tasks of each party and the documents that support the BIM process.

The 2 courses are certified with Continuous professional development, by the CPD certification service in the UK (learn more here: and have been on the shortlist of the European Excellence Awards 2021.

BIM ISO 19650 training benefits:

  • Demonstrate competency and skills in using BIM​ in line with ISO 19650

  • Develop BIM workflows and improve productivity ​

  • Improve ability to implement and realize project goals

  • Work with the latest BIM industry standards

Learn more here:

Subscribe to the BIM Design Hub youtube channel for more content on BIM and ISO 19650.

Author: Panagiotidou Nicoleta

Terms and conditions

All content provided on breakwithanarchitect is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. We are happy for others to share our blog posts through all social media platforms, including the original blog posts with credit to the author and providing a link to the original content. However, we would appreciate it if the content is not reproduced in full on other sites or publications without written consent being granted by breakwithanarchitect. These terms and conditions of use are subject to change at any time and without notice.



BIM training by BIM Design Hub introduces you to the concepts and principles of Building Information Modeling, BIM, in line with ISO 19650 and provides sufficient skills and knowledge of the BIM process, standards and guidelines that support the digitalization of the construction industry.

bottom of page