There’s More to BIM than Meets the Eye
There’s no question that BIM delivers new levels of performance for the AEC industry. Architects, engineers, and constructors can easily visualize what is to be built in a 3D simulated environment. As a result, they can quickly identify any potential design, construction, and operational issues, reducing waste and optimizing efficiency through all phases of a project life cycle.
Given the diversity of the tasks that a BIM Manager must accomplish on a day-to-day basis, however, it can be useful to see how their alignment with an organization’s overall BIM vision will deliver stronger outcomes.
The BIM Framework
Of course, BIM is way more than technology change, so I hope that the industry as a whole begins to understand the importance that BIM management role can also play in the overall growth and adoption of BIM.
Technology “picks and clicks” alone, as shown in the illustration below, account for less than one quarter of a whole BIM implementation. Even as you factor in training and support initiatives, you cover less than a quarter of what BIM impacts. And as you further break each planning initiative into individual tasks, the scale of what needs to be done grows exponentially.
Clearly, the BIM Manager needs to look far beyond the technology to create, implement and manage change throughout almost every part of the organization.
Road Map to BIM Value
BIM requires savvy and dedicated management -- from redesigning intra and inter-organizational practices to enforcing new workflows, standards and legal compliance for the enterprise.
To achieve true digital transformation, the BIM Manager will also need to understand and reflect the goals of the organization.
This means looking at business, legal, project and technology issues, and then formalizing initiatives for each area. Core working parts of a well-defined BIM execution plan may include:
The Enterprise Track
A high-level plan begins with a look at the goals of the organization. The aim is to identify transformational opportunities, and the combinations of process and technology that can make them happen. This strategy should be aligned with the cultural and professional context of the organization.
For example, find out what investments and activities are needed to close the gap with the company’s BIM vision, including the timing and scheduling for each initiative.
You will need to rethink a socio-technical system that optimizes people, processes, and assets to support delivery of business objectives and improve team communications throughout project life cycles. This calls for an organizational capability development plan that will mix several complementary approaches – including hiring, training, and partnering.
The Project Track
Combining strategic plans with day-to-day billable project work is no easy task, as BIM project management covers a wide range of interactive processes that interface people, projects and documents.
Specifically, the BIM Manager is responsible for subdividing BIM-related tasks, managing information and linkages from conceptual design to construction, meeting specific demands for data visualization and validation, and sequencing work for these different types of projects.
This requires balancing limited resources with the need to achieve the time/cost objectives of multiple projects.
The Legal Track
The collaborative use of BIM also raises potential legal challenges.
Project participants rely on and affect the information that is entered in the BIM Model by others. This level of integration may cause legal issues concerning allocating risks and liabilities among trade partners.
In particular, you need to understand the risks that come with data aggregation and association. If your model also contains confidential or proprietary information, such as copyright and licensing of the model and/or personal contributions to the model, liability for content, including corruption, alterations or misinterpretations, you need to make sure that the contract includes confidentiality/restricted access provisions.
Finally, you need to identify how evolving political, economic, socio-technological or environmental regulation might influence threats to your asset or activities.
The Technology Track
As we leverage technology to enrich design and construction processes, information needs to be integrated across disciplines and in a life-cycle context.
This calls for an open solution that is robust yet adaptable for linking to multiple information sources and providing a single source of truth for all stakeholders.
It is also critical for the BIM Manager to anticipate future requirements on hardware performance, data storage, information transfer speed and network configuration.
Implementing good standards also facilitates collaboration, reduces time to completion, and improves quality. Data management, in particular, plays an essential role: the objective is to create BIM data once, update it automatically when it is modified or repurposed, so that it can be reused over the entire life of an asset.
Looking ahead, the cloud is also quickly becoming an innovation model for delivering IT infrastructure and applications. You may wish to move your hardware infrastructure toward a cloud-based set-up with high bandwidth and thin-client end-user interfaces. With the development of cloud-based services, project stakeholders can then access current model-based information anywhere, anytime.
For instance joint ventures between companies; Technologies such as GDaaS allow the companies to instantly deploy workstations and servers (like Revit Server) from the cloud, work together on one BIM model in real-time and bill each JV partner in a pay-per-use model.
Focus on BIM Execution
Crafting an incremental plan will allow you to roll out and support various initiatives in such a way that they build on one another.
At the heart of such a plan is the creation of an internal self-sustaining BIM ecosystem. It will help drive how BIM management and coordination can occur on projects, as well as the overall level of planning, such as content strategies, budgeting, and information/data protocols.
As part of a “just-in-time” strategy, you will need to provide rapid up-skilling of team members for specific projects. You will require a combination of skills and competencies -- from the technical savvy to high-level thinkers, innovators and collaborators. Sadly, many BIM Managers associate BIM training with software training only. As much as software forms an important factor, these skills are just one aspect within a range of other things to know about BIM.
Different training modules can focus on various aspects related to BIM delivery. To advance your colleagues’ BIM skills to a desired level, you can deliver internal training by drawing on internal expertise, such as training sessions by the practice BIM manager, BIM power users, or one-to-one project training. At other times, you may need to look for external partners.
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