Opinion

BIM Implementation and Execution Plans

 

Maybe you are captivated by the proposition of BIM and want to take it for a ‘trial run’, or you are somewhat convinced of the benefits and are keen to roll it out.  You are looking at getting started and want to find a BIM in a BOX solution; unfortunately you are in for a little surprise. 

For a number of years many BIM professionals would refer to BIM as a software package.  Marketing by a number of leading software vendors was the main cause to this mistaken thinking. The BIM new-comers will be disappointed and perhaps frustrated to know that there is no BIM in a BOX solution, in its current state BIM is a bespoke solution.  The reason is that the applications of BIM are too broad, the requirements of the users are too diverse, and software development is in a fairly continuous state of development and transformation.    

BIM is a methodology that throws much of the onus back on the user to investigate the possible applications of BIM, the available technologies and appropriate workflow strategies. Benefits and limitations must be accurately evaluated in respect to one’s business model. Although this can be a demanding process, if it is well structured it can be managed successfully.  This can be with specific steps to make rapid inroads into the world of BIM.

Before commencing on your BIM Journey, two questions need to be answered ‘what can BIM do?’, and ‘what can it do for me?’. Another way to view these two questions; what are the opportunities with BIM?, the ‘broad BIM uses’ and what are the real applications needed by you?, the ‘must have BIM uses’. It is important to focus on the must have BIM uses for your own business needs and then set out to develop some goals and lay-out a roadmap.   

After defining the goals and roadmap, the next step is to develop an implementation plan specifically focusing on resources and capabilities that are needed.

BIM is a change process and at times will be disruptive. We need to ask ‘what are the processes and infrastructure that can support me in achieving my goals?’ In posing this question we must recognise that processes will change as much as technology. It is not simply a question of software selection as stated earlier. An organisation adopting BIM must be prepared to experience a disruption (and of course an improvement) to existing processes. 

It is to a certain extent a step into the unknown, a process towards improvement, however there do exist an extensive source of project references, international standards and best practices and numerous guides and references documents to support the transition. The BIM Hub has a rich resource of information to assist BIM professionals through this process.

The following two articles provide a snapshot of the process of BIM implementation, as well as offering a selection of references and practical tips.

GUIDE FOR BIM DEPLOYMENT
This article introduces some basic strategies to support organisations in implementing building information modelling. It suggests developing a familiarity of standard BIM functions and processes from which to define one’s goals and implementation strategy. The article also provides practical guidance on developing a BIM Execution Plan, setting standards and protocols, and launching a pilot project.

BIM FUNCTIONS AND PROCESSES
BIM has a broad range of application; right cross the design, construction and operation process. It is often impractical for any single BIM user to have expertise in all areas, nevertheless, it is important to be aware of the areas of application and thus be able to select which BIM functions are most applicable to one’s own business The Pennsylvania State University

Building Information Modeling Execution Planning Guide
Defines twenty-five distinct BIM functions. Branching into the specialist areas of BIM one could argue that there are many more. buildingSMART International currently has over one hundred BIM activities defined as individual Information Delivery Manuals (refer to the image for definition of IDM’s). Regardless of how they are defined, BIM Functions can be roughly grouped into five categories:

Having a healthy understanding of these functions enables one to make an informed decision about which functions one may want to deploy. It also gives an appreciation of the activities undertaken by other parties, in which one may need to be indirectly involved (eg. in the exchange of model data).

The process of transitioning a building information model from one function to the next, and indeed the progression of the model through various levels of development, must be pre-conceived and well- structured.

For example, if one intents to perform accurate cost estimations, specific data needs to be imbedded into the model objects at an early stage of development. buildingSMART International has defined Information Delivery Manuals (IDM’s) to provide a framework for describing such model progressions. Each activity is described in a unique IDM in the form of Process Maps, Exchange Requirements and Functional Parts. There are currently over one hundred IDM’s being developed by buildinSMART members worldwide. (Further information regarding IDM’s can be found at buildingSMART International IDM website.)

DEFINE GOALS AND IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGY
Once the desired BIM Functions and associated processes have been identified an organisation can define its goals and lay-out a roadmap for achieving these. Although the end-goal may be ambitious, it is important to establish achievable milestones. It may be advisable to initially pursue the ‘low-hanging fruit’ of BIM; functions such as 3D coordination and drawing extraction that yield the greatest return for the minimum effort. More complex functions and processes can be tackled as competency and confidence increases.

FOSTER A BIM CULTURE 
Transitioning to BIM is greatly benefitted by developing a healthy BIM culture within an by, for example, recognising BIM Champions and forming steering committees. Organisation may also choose to engage external BIM advisors or develop strategic partnerships with specialist consultants.

DEVELOP A BIM EXECUTION PLAN
A BIM execution plan establishes the project objectives, roles and responsibilities of the various parties, and required process maps and information exchanges. An excellent reference for developing a BIM Execution Plan is the Pennsylvania State University’s Building Information Modeling Execution Planning guide.

DEFINE STANDARDS AND PROTOCOLS
The Execution Plan should be accompanied by a comprehensive set of standards and protocols that regulate everything from modelling practices to file-naming conventions. This takes some of the burden off individual stakeholders in defining their own standards, and most importantly ensures consistency across a project. A useful reference for BIM standards is the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) Building Information Modeling Standards.

EVALUATE AVAILABLE SOFTWARE SOLUTIONS
Software selection is a critical process in BIM implementation , and ought to be undertaken in consideration of specific user requirements. A useful guide for software evaluation and selection can be found in BIM Journal Issue 34: Metrics for Analyzing BIM Tools

LAUNCH A PILOT OR PARALLEL BIM PROJECT
It is advisable to start the transition to BIM with a pilot project that is neither excessively large nor complex. Alternatively one may choose to undertake a parallel exercise, where a BIM team operates in parallel to the standard project team (using traditional methods). This relieves the BIM team from the pressure of meeting construction deadlines, while still supporting the construction team with benefits of 3D visualisation, coordination, construction simulation, quantity take-off and other basic functions.

REFERENCE INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS AND BEST PRACTICES
Apilot project that is neither excessively large nor complex. Alternatively one may choose to undertake a parallel exercise, where a BIM team operates in parallel to the standard project team (using traditional methods). This relieves the BIM team from the pressure of meeting construction deadlines, while still supporting the construction team with benefits of 3D visualisation, coordination, construction simulation, quantity take-off and other basic functions.

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