08.12.2015 : Jon Williams

BIM – One size fits no one!

Clients should engage with BIM advisors to facilitate these discussions. A key principle of BIM is to remain outcome focussed.

There is no one BIM approach or strategy that is right for all. Everyone needs to tailor their BIM usage to their individual needs, the needs of those they are collaborating with and the specific project objectives. Using a standard ‘“off the shelf”’ BIM plan can lead to waste, frustration and a lack of future adoption.

As outlined The Three Worlds of BIM, BIM means different things and offers different benefits in each part of the design, construction and operations cycle.

Most asset owners are not involved in the detail of the design and construction process. BIM workflows can become so complicated that it is easy to lose the perspective of what we are really trying to achieve. The above example from PAS 1192-2 is an example of this. When this happens, asset owners will not become advocates for the BIM process and adoptions rates will reduce.

It doesn’t need to be this hard. The starting point of a successful BIM journey is asking the right questions at the start of the project. The aim being: To clearly document the project objectives and gather the ‘information’ related topics that the stakeholders believe will give them the most benefit.

Clients should engage with BIM advisors to facilitate these discussions. A key principle of BIM is to remain outcome focussed.

What does the client want and how does the project team deliver it? Far too often our industry is guilty of providing clients with either what we have done on the last project or what we think is the latest trend. We miss really finding out and delivering what the client actually wants.

Once the objectives are clear, the BIM advisors can work with the client to develop the specific aspects of BIM that will assist with meeting these objectives. Skilled BIM advisors will be looking for areas where additional value can be generated. For example, if 3D models are being used for coordination and document production, can they also be used as a part of the stakeholder engagement and sign off process?

It is different for every client and can be unique for every project. Too many clients are being asked to leap head first into an overcomplicated 3D, 4D, 5D and 6D modelling exercise which are actually adding little value to them as owners and operators.

Using the ‘start with the end in mind’ philosophy, this diagram is useful in framing the conversations with the various project stakeholders.

BIM project benefits
From the output of these discussions an effective and project/client unique BIM strategy can be developed. We have found it to be the simplest way to communicate the needs of ‘Operate’ back into the ‘Design’ and ‘Build’ worlds.

BIM strategy
Determining WHY a BIM process should be employed is the most important first step. This can be complex as the project will have multiple stakeholders each with different project outcome needs. By representing each of these needs and their application in the BIM process individually, it is possible to have a meaningful multi-stakeholder BIM conversation. Benefits, implications and costs can be reviewed and a concise BIM Strategy documented. As they have direct input into it, it should be understood and accepted by all stakeholders.

When the end users have documented their BIM strategy the designers and constructors can go through the same process. Taking the end users requirements as a given, the design/construction team can then add what BIM activities will benefit them in their specific tasks. The design BIM strategy must be developed collectively by the whole design team. If the procurement method allows it, the contractor should be a part of this process.

These design, construction and end user BIM strategies can then be brought together to form an integrated BIM Execution plan (BEP). The complete BEP will contain a lot of other BIM mechanics but it’s the capturing of the holistic BIM strategies and how they are to be delivered that is the key.

The difference between the above process and what has been seen on many projects, is starting at the end to confirm what is really wanted, rather than at the beginning with a focus on what can be produced.

I am confident that in a few years BIM will move to a business as usual activity. BIM management will become an extension of project/design/construction management. The current market attention with BIM is an ideal catalyst to improve project delivery and end user satisfaction. We must use this BIM focus on design/construction processes and outputs to drive:

  • greater collaboration between designers
  • improved integration of the design and construction phases
  • reduced wastage during construction
  • improved safety outcomes
  • reduction in overall project costs and time frames.

Increasing the adoption of BIM by clients is not easy. However, taking the above outcome focussed approach that delivers a client specific strategy with real benefits should make this process easier.

About the Author

Jon Williams

Business Director - Practice Development

Jon is our Building Information Modelling (BIM) strategic leader. He established our in-house approach to BIM and is setting industry standards by helping to develop the National BIM Handbook in New Zealand. He is focused on using BIM to drive a positive change in the building industry and is working with clients to help achieve this.

Ignite Your Thinking

What Do You Think?

ADD A COMMENT