The role of the Common Data Environment


Michelle Mason, of CONJECT outlines the Common Data Environment and what it means for your business…

The hype around BIM continues at pace, with the UK Government’s mandate of achieving Level 2 BIM on all central government projects by 2016 fast approaching. We frequently engage with project teams that have been asked to implement ‘BIM’ on both public sector and private sector schemes, without any real objectives of what needs to be achieved in place.

BIM is not all about the design and construction phases of the process. There are savings to be had from the ‘build it twice’ (once virtually and once in reality) approach through the avoidance of clashes and rework, but the greatest savings by far will be realised in the operational phase of the asset…provided an accurate, up to date data set of what the asset actually consists of is in place at handover

The term Common Data Environment, or CDE, has appeared in our industry over recent years as a result of documents like the PAS 1192 series. But what does this actually mean and how do you select a CDE that is fit for your requirements?


From my perspective a CDE is just a new term for what we know as a collaboration system and indeed a ‘project extranet’ before that. One difference is that the CDE needs to be able to manage data related to the asset as well as files such as drawings, specifications, reports etc. There are some fundamental requirements for the CDE:

  • Ideally the CDE will be available via the web and hosted in a secure environment ensuring all project participants can access the system to input files and data as required;
  • The CDE will have levels of security to ensure project participants only access and amend data and files in the areas of the system that they are permitted to do so;
  • Version control – the collation of a robust audit trail and history related to the data and files will be controlled by the CDE.

There are other considerations which will undoubtedly help and in some instances are fundamental to the successful outcome of the project (i.e. completed on time, on budget and with a full and comprehensive set of data and files available at handover):

  • Will the CDE support a standard, PAS 1192-2 naming convention and process for managing files and data?
  • Can a schedule of deliverables be developed in the CDE so that deliverables are clearly identified?
  • Is the CDE capable of managing information and data supplied from non-design sources, such as commissioning data for example?

Can project participants continue to easily utilise the applications that they need to carry out their role on the project…Revit, Sketchup, Vectorworks, Syncro, Solibri, etc?

These requirements begin to differentiate the generic file sharing applications such as Dropbox from the developed for purpose applications such as CONJECT.

Don’t forget time, quality and cost

However there are also some fundamentals that absolutely have to be considered if the traditional time, cost and quality outcomes are to be successfully achieved. The CDE must facilitate collaborative working but must still provide the level of control required to ensure that the asset complies with the requirements of the original scope and that both the client and the delivery team are provided with, or providing, exactly what they expected to be provided with or delivered. This means that the CDE must still allow the traditional project controls for managing contractual correspondence and communications if the project is to have any chance of a successful outcome.

The CONJECT CDE has been built on the same principles as we have always applied to collaboration and control and can help organisations achieve successful project outcomes.

Find out more in our Common Data Environment information sheet.

To support Level 2 BIM, users need a CDE that is able to manage data related to the asset as well as files such as drawings, specifications, reports etc.


CONJECT is a leading international software company, providing SaaS solutions to support BIM and manage key processes throughout the plan-build-operate life-cycle for the real estate as well as architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industries. The CONJECT mission is to help its clients increase quality, reduce costs and better manage risks across their property and infrastructure portfolios. Operating in 14 international cities; the UK head office is in Woking, Surrey. CONJECT applications are used by more than 40,000 businesses worldwide, and every month there are more than 3,000 new users of CONJECT software.

For more information see, or follow CONJECT on LinkedIn and on Twitter @CONJECT.

Michelle Mason



  1. I guess”from my perspective” kind of excuses it but the CDE isn’t another name for something that has anything whatsoever to do with software (later the “perspective” of “leading software company” is given). The CDE has direct lineage through the CPI documents describing the model exchange method that itself was a decedent of systems like copy negatives and has absolutely solid foundations in construction best practice from before software was much of an industry at all. Advances in computing and software is now better enabling such things but nothing in the PAS1192-2 borrows anything from that industry and it is similar to a “collaboration system” only in the sense of the (pre- computing) dictionary definition of those words to help describe something. Sadly few are interested in this let alone acknowledge its importance and suffer the misguided impression that the thinking is new and IT related.
    While on – we need to be clear – the ‘hype’ around BIM is undeniable but it is within those clouds of hot air that surround the efforts of the Task Force, BSI and those writing sanctioned tools and guides not within them. One of the mottos of the initiative was to “leave the detail to the market” and this inevitably creates the hype as vendors and others crawl over each other to offer ‘solutions’ – some of which are or will be very good – hence the motto.


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