BIM Journal Interview with Jonathan Hewitt, - pt 1


As Director of what actual duties are you carrying out in this role? 

As a BIM Consultant my role is wide and varied on a day to day basis.  My clients range from Tier 1 contractors to Fit Out companies to IT Cloud Services and Smart Building Tech companies from here in the UK to the Middle and Far East.  

My support can be from establishing a BIM strategy to guidance or development of processes, to basic training and awareness courses or simply putting people in touch with one another.

My clients are either people that I’ve worked with before or I have been recommended to them for others that Ive done work for. I suppose I do very little promotion or touting for work.  

What do you enjoy the most about the role?

The variety of the role and service that I provide is what I enjoy the most.  I particular enjoy the moment that the penny drops with a client when I’ve explained a particular process or idea and they get it.  Oh and when I receive feedback or a thanks is also great.  I guess in short I enjoy helping people on their BIM journey.

What, in terms of the traditional process or your “old role” do you miss the most/the least? 

My old role (Commercial Lead for BIM at Carillion) was a great experience in terms of understanding the challenges of implementing BIM across multiple businesses and locations.

They say people are one of the main blockers to BIM success and it's so true.  My background is Quantity Surveying and my experience from project level allows me to get into project teams and talk their language and it usually makes people a bit more open to the idea when they release it wasn’t actually that long ago that I was delivering projects in portacabins and facing the day to day challenges that they have.

Is this a “bolt on” to another role you also carry out? What role is that?

No, this is my full time bag now.  A lot of roles do tend to be a bolt on though, especially in the contractor tier 1 environment where head count, profit and cash is king.

What about the emergence of BIM job titles?

I am not a fan of job titles with “BIM” in them. In fact I discourage it as much as possible (yeah yeah I know I’ve got BIM in my job title and my last job title as well!).  

The industry set off to try and make a more efficient process for design, building and operating built assets.  To date all we have managed to do is create a complete new discipline, a new cog to the already clunky process to confuse things even more.  

For BIM to work properly it needs everybody (from the top to the bottom of the supply chain) to contribute and pull in the same direction.  By introducing “BIM” into job titles or even departments is just making the problem worse.  Its giving responsibility to an individual or group of individuals which then gives the rest of the people involved the excuse “The BIM guy deals with that”.

That's an expecially good point. Industry does seem to be running with these roles however at present. On that tack, what is a BIM Coordinator in your view, what do they do day in day out?

I’ve seen the “BIM Coordinator” role used as a bit of a facilitator at the start of projects.  Its somebody that is employed from day one to put into place the methods and procedures that will be

And a BIM Engineer?

…..and BIM Technician.  Both the same to me, they create models.  Keep it simple. Model Authors that sit within the Task Teams and take on the responsibilities laid out in the PAS 1192:2

Information Manager?

Key Role – the Protocol names this person.  Sets up and manages the CDE – vital to BIM!  Could be wrapped into existing roles/up skill current roles such as Document Controllers.  This role doesn’t have any design responsibility – its about the information and process side of things.

He/she is responsible for granting project/task team members access to the CDE, ensuring documents are named inline with the nominated naming convention and making sure the security provisions are in place, active and up to date.

Modern day Project Manager?

A Project Manager for me is still the traditional role.  The top dog on the project, everything and everyone goes through him.  

Its important that the PM is BIM savy as he/she is normally the Alpha –(fe)male of the project and has the most influence over the team.  For the BIM process to work properly this person needs to be clued up and pushing the process and not leaving it to the “BIM Person/People”.  

I would like to see more PM’s getting educated on the BIM process and taking a lead.

CAD Manager?

Standard CAD Manager – title has been around since before BIM.

BIM Consultant?

Still trying to work that out!  

It’s a catch all.  My role as a “consultant” is the full monty.  Doing and Telling - Anything from putting a strategy together, to implementing a process, to putting together some standard BIM documents/contracts, to training courses, to supporting on tender submissions, to just general guidance and advice on all of the above.  I can tell them how to do it or do it for them.  I’m pretty much doing or have done all of the above.

And what does a BIM Manager do “officially” for that matter, if you were to qualify the role yourself, in a published standard for others to honour. What would it say?

Personally, I would avoid the title BIM Manager.  If it’s a project level role I don’t think we should be creating a new role called a “BIM” anything.  We need to share the additional responsibilities between current project members.

If its an organisational role however then I think “BIM Lead” or “Head of BIM” or something like that is a good idea.  That person should be responsible for creating and implementing a BIM strategy and vision.  Its important for organisation to have central person that people can recognise as the BIM expert.  Unfortunately it tends to be some from the design side of the business and this for me sends the wrong message a little – it reinforces the idea that BIM is a design thing – “its all about a 3D design model right?!”  An operational lead would be a good choice for me.

Task Team Manager, Task Information Manager etc..?

This best suits a Design Team Lead or I would favour a Operational Discipline Lead such as a Section or Area PM/Contract Manager for MEP, Architectural, Structural or a CRE for Track, S&T, E&P, OLE etc.   He/She is setting out the plan (TIDP), lining up the resource, reviewing/approving information produced by the team against the original task brief and assigning suitability codes.

Task Information Manager is an assurance role – assuring capability of the team to produce information inline with the SMPs – provide education to the Task Team on SMPs, assuring the information produced by the team is inline with the SMPs before sharing.  This position for me is a “critical friend” role – basically an internal check point within the Task Team to make sure that information produced is correct before it is shared with the rest of the project/other task teams.  This fits into a trusted number 2 position – again depending on type and size of project – it could be a lead engineer siting under the discpline lead.

Interface Coordinator

Deals with any spatial cooridnation issues with Interface Cooridnators from other Task Teams – this clearly needs to be somebody with technical ability – Senior Designer?

Information Author 

The person creating the information and models.  Could be a member of supply chain (as could the whole Task Team for that matter) – producing information inline with SMPs, spatially coordinated the models – reporting any issues to the Interface Manager and submitting the information for approval to the Task Team Manager inline with the TIDP.  So this/these person(s) is/are doing the grunt work – the actual model and information.  So typically I would say a design focused person.

So in short the Task Team Manager and Task Information Manager are leaning more towards Operational roles and the Interface Coordinator and Information Author are more Design orintated roles.  Again depending on the size of the project some of these roles could be combined – much the same flavor as the answers to the other questions I sent through – I think it more important to make sure the responsibilities are covered rather than the roles – and that the responsbility isn’t just left soley with the design department.

Read part 2 here.


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