The Project is late again
There is a new schedule and estimate and there will probably be further changes. The tenants are eager to take occupancy and there are penalties for delays. Subcontractors are taking shortcuts in order to reduce their costs and keep to schedule, (very difficult to prove afterwards). There are problems with quality. Overall costs are escalating with reports on new cost items being presented daily. Nobody knows what the final figure will be.
All these are known problems in most construction projects. Why aren’t they solved?
It is common to blame management for problems, but is this fair when they are working with traditional systems that cannot really control the construction process effectively?
Holding others accountable is the easy option in the high pressure environment of a modern construction project, but it is not helpful. Projects can best succeed if the whole team shares responsibility for problem solving. Banning the statement "it’s not my fault" is a good start.
Project Managers are generally competent and manage to the best of their knowledge and ability. They are supervised by qualified and capable directors, who are trying to avoid any irregularities with budget, schedule and quality.
Often it seems almost impossible to manage and organise large quantities of complex information. Frequently, information on delays or similar anomalies arrives too late for the project manager to take meaningful action. If the information was available earlier, many problems could be fixed immediately. The impact of late problem solving increases and unmanageable chaos can result. This forces decisions to be made without reference to the real situation.
If managers had access to current project data with transparency of the details, they could fix the causes of problems rather that their effect. Making decisions based on guesses, without any simulation of future consequences, is always a huge risk.
The problem does not lie with management. It is caused by the lack of proper, detailed and timely information, on the current and projected status of various parts of the project.
It is impossible to have the detailed information at hand all the time. That is what many people say and given the current processes and work flow, there is some justification in the statement.
Others claim that a good project manager asks people working on the project how they are proceeding. This is true, but there are rarely efficient mechanisms in place to validate the answers, which are based upon often inaccurate information from other stakeholders.
Strict contractual controls are frequently used in the hope that they will force transparency and timely information exchange. However, the general outcome of such an approach is to generate suspicion, mistrust and conflict. This creates an environment where managers are told what they want to hear, rather than what they need to know.
These problems can be solved, by implementing a Constructible BIM Approach.
Constructible BIM Approach
BIM is often seen only as a design tool that allows design teams to spin the model for effect and visual communication. However, if applied correctly, extending the use of BIM can dramatically improve the entire construction project.
What is it?
When an organisation implements BIM with a wider perspective, rather than just a software tool for modelling, the process is known as Constructible BIM.
Constructible BIM can benefit the whole construction project. It enables the adoption of emerging concepts such as Integrated Project Delivery and Lean Construction, thereby bringing tangible savings for the whole construction project.
How is it implemented?
To achieve maximum benefit from Constructible BIM, it is necessary to commit to developing and improving the way construction projects are handled. The easiest way to get started is to adopt methodologies based on current global best practice. An example of a BIM process is a methodology that looks at information management of the construction project as a whole. It encompasses four key aspects of construction information management:
Process: Having the most suitable processes for information exchange.
Technology: Using a suitable and interoperable technology for effective operations.
People: Ensuring that appropriately skilled professionals are working on the project.
Information: Making sure that the format of information is well defined throughout the project, to ensure rapid and automated processing.
Success depends on utilising processes such as Building Information Modelling, Quantity Information Management, Last Planner System and/or Lean Construction, as enablers.
Advantages of correctly deploying this system include:
- A solid and manageable information structure.
- Standardised knowledge transfer - removal of unique gatekeepers.
- Project wide data modelling.
- Combination of all data streams.
- A recognised system of certification for people and organisations.
In most businesses it is unrealistic to deploy sweeping changes. Implementing BIM process utilises existing project organisation and systems where possible, rather than replacing everything. This is achieved through a process of thorough analysis, gradual deployment and where necessary, by further development. From the first implementation, benefits to the current and future projects will be apparent. Over time, development and maintenance will facilitate even more advantages.
What can it do?
Using a BIM process in any construction project brings a large number of benefits to the organisation. These can be summarised in three areas:
1. Design Team Benefits
- Improved design coordination - architectural/structural/ HVAC, clash detection and modelling conventions.
- Better communication platform between disciplines, rules and conventions.
- Faster turnaround of routine tasks.
- Wider scope for designers to enable smarter team work and participation.
- Very fast and affordable design alternative turnaround time (also costing and scheduling).
- Easier and more flexible delivery of designs and design variations to the project. More up-to-date and liked design practice.
- Ability to use manufacturer-specific components for better accuracy.
2. Peer benefits
a. Commercial (Client/Owner/Developer/Sales/Finance).
- Accurate cost estimates from sketches.
- More design alternatives can be presented.
- Early and accurate budgeting and scheduling.
- Sales and marketing materials provided from the model.
- Consistent management reporting.
- Efficient pre-claims management.
b. Production (Site/Project Management/QS/Subcontractors)
- Fast quantity take-off.
- 4D scheduling task level.
- 5D costing item level.
- Up-to-date as-built-models.
- Better resource management.
- Easy management and tracking of project anomalies.
- Visual and numerical project management.
- Improved subcontractor management/control.
c. Production Support (Procurement/Logistics/Accounts/Business)
- Procurement planning and optimisation
- Logistics planning and optimisation.
- Strict accounts/invoice control and integration to ERP etc.
- More accurate communication with building users.
- Easier post-commissioning.
- Intelligent facility management data.
- Accessible as-built data.
- Designs are usable throughout the building’s lifecycle.
3. Competitive Edge
Given the global downturn and problems with project budgets and schedules, owners and developers are already starting to adopt project wide approaches. Because of their usage and need to work in a wider construction environment, design practices can become major enablers or disablers of these approaches.
Deploying the Constructible BIM approach brings significant potential savings in cost and time, whilst maintaining or improving quality. Those who include a BIM Process as an integral part of their offering, have a huge advantage over competitors using traditional methods. As a result much higher proposal conversion rates can be expected.
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