Before we get into what is a Common Data Environment (CDE), you first need to know that to develop a project under BIM methodology, information and data exchange must be managed in a structured and secure way, and this requires the use of a common open digital space that can be accessed by all members of a team to share project information.

What is a Common Data Environment (CDE)

 As its name suggests, a CDE or Common Data Environment is a digital collaboration area, usually in the cloud with solutions like Autodesk Docs, where all project information is stored securely, and to which all members of the work team have access to make revisions according to their role. Its use improves security and reduces risks such as information duplication and miscommunication.

 The CDE should be the main source of information for the project and used to collect, manage and disseminate documentation, models, and non-graphical data (i.e. all project information whether in BIM format or a conventional data format) to the entire task force.

 It is important to identify the project’s model and information management agents, who are in charge of centralizing and managing information.

 Access to project information must be restricted to the agents defined in the BEP allowing permissions and user control.

 The BIM Manager is responsible for the implementation of the CDE structure in the BIM Execution Plan, as well as for ensuring its maintenance and integrity, and in particular of the model, making backup copies with the appropriate frequency. For this purpose, BIM Collaborate is a complete tool used by important construction companies.

Areas of a CDE

 It is important that the CDE is structured and subdivided into different areas by information status:

Work in Progress

 The Work in Progress status is used for information that is being developed by a team. Therefore, it contains working documents, by discipline, not validated or verified in the project as a whole, such as schematics, concepts under development, and partial models.


 The purpose of the Shared status is to enable collaborative information model development. In this area of the CDE, teams share information and therefore contain data approved by the BIM manager of each discipline and suitable for use by other teams to coordinate with their information.

 Shared information must be visible and accessible by all, but not editable. If editing of an information container is required it should be returned to Work in Progress status so that its author can edit and resubmit it.


 The Published status is used for information that has been authorized for use. This area is fed by the client with information verified and authorized by the BIM Project Manager of your organization.


 It is used for disused or replaced material, as well as for housing the As-built model.

What are the advantages of a CDE?

 There are many compelling reasons to implement a common data environment on construction projects:

  •  Improves collaboration: Digital technologies have repeatedly proven that they can improve collaboration if used correctly. That means that all project information and data should flow and be updated in a centralized system. This leads to better coordination and teamwork.
  • Create a single reliable source of truth: Never underestimate the power of a single source of information on a project. A reliable real-time place for team members to access plans, changes, and data leads to better decision-making and insight across projects and companies.
  • Improve efficiency and quality: Common data environments reduce the need to create data manually, leading to reduced input errors and lost information. Consequently, the entire company has better access to information that empowers teams to make decisions more quickly.
  • Reduces overall risk: A CDE reduces risk with greater transparency and insight into the entire project landscape. Over time, this allows for continuous improvement and predictability, crucial to excelling in the future of a business.
  • Strengthens security: With a CDE, administrators and IT, professionals have better control of data and information, creating more security in the short and long term.