Opinion

BIM: What's in a Name? The Emerging Job Roles pt 2

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From BIM Journal. Click Here to Read Issue 2

from pt 1 here.

Back to Basics

We will examine this role in greater depth in the next article, but in the meantime you must know that the BIM Protocol defines the importance of the Information Manager thus:

The Protocol requires the Employer to appoint a party to undertake the Information Management Role. This is expected to form part of a wider set of duties under an existing appointment and is likely to be performed either by the Design Lead or the Project Lead, which could be a consultant or contractor at different stages of the project. In some circumstances the Employer may appoint a stand alone Information Manager.[1]

This translates to, if the job is colossal then a dedicated Information Manager will be needed. If the job is microscopic or you just don’t have the scope then hire a consultant to take it on instead. If it is anything in between (most cases) then the Design Lead, Project Lead, contractors’ Design Manager or some other schmuck can do it along with all of their other duties.

But this is the wrong tone. After all the process itself seeks to minimise the “other stuff” in a positive way, although it does bring the expectation that the first project this person oversees with this role slapped onto them does need some slack cutting from the client and the wider project team. Spirit of collaboration and all that. Somebody has to do it and in BIM Protocol terms the Employer has to have somebody in place in this regard so it is very much a nailed on set of duties. Subtleties can also arise if the job is design led or contractor led too, which we will identify later. Also whether or not this is a logical role for document controllers to migrate to will be looked at as well.

In the either case, the lucky person will inherit the duties of Information Manager regardless of their title and in essence act as a custodian, often going on to hand these duties from designer to contractor as the project progresses. So it does not really need to be a new role at all and in most cases it doesn’t tend to be. However...

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To push their BIM agenda company wide many professionals will have likely rebranded themselves with the “BIM” suffix and likely sought certification that bolsters their prowess even further. Both of which are sensible measures deep down, but we will look at the pitfalls and the perils of using “BIM” by name once again in the consensus at the end.

Duties.

The general duties according to the BIM Protocol do not include any clash detection or model coordination activities typically associated with a ‘BIM Coordinator’ - another role that we will examine. What is does include however, are the general managerial duties summarised below:

• Managing the processes and procedures for information exchange on projects;

• Initiating and implementing the Project Information Plan and Asset Information Plan;

• Assisting in the preparation of Project Outputs, such as data drops; and

• Implementation of the BIM Protocol, including the updating of the Model Production and Delivery Template (MPDT)[1]

These are the principal generic duties. We will delve into the many specifics next, but there is clearly a lot more to it than being a Document Controller, that is for sure.

So to “do BIM” correctly, the BIM Protocol will often be used. But key questions can still be raised as to whether organisations really have alignment with one another when it comes to adopting these new roles. Just how are Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) embracing these roles on projects of rapidly varying size and scale? Where do these duties blur? Does more than one Information Manager or BIM Manager exist project wide? How are Tier 1’s leading this transformation? Are they leading this transformation? What should be prioritised? What should be relegated? Who is doing what, when, and how?

All are questions that we will look at in the articles that follow.

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Give us your personal opinion of the BIM markets globally - any trends or cohesion?

Well what is difficult to answer here is that when we speak about BIM we assume that we all share the same context globally, but for some it is just sharing models and very little more.

Indeed we have observed a number of clients who purport to be utilising BIM on a couple of projects but as a matter of fact they are really just using model data instead of drawings, which means the size is five to ten times bigger. Plus they hardly use the document register when managing these model files. Although it is a definite step up in terms of “BIM maturity” it’s not the way that we understand BIM management. Whereas for some it is just about model coordination at the moment, yet for others it’s about data management too.

If pushed I would have to say that Finland and Norway are probably the most ahead of all the markets, but they aren’t really broadcasting their achievements. Even though their market is small - they are very knowledgeable and it is hard to find a non BIM project over there.

Another very mature market is the Netherlands. They have something like a 7% demand from the public side with 93% coming purely from the BIM business case. It is also a very mature market insofar as they would all like to begin to really link their data with one another. Which is a great pleasure to see and to understand how they want to tie the whole initiative up collectively, in the concept of Smart Cities, Smart Living and Smart Homes.

After all we don’t do BIM for BIM’s sake, really we are serving the methodology of the next phase, a higher purpose, which of course is tied into sustainability and better urban planning.

If we compare this to the USA and California especially, they are knee deep into the design process a the moment and it is probably quite hard to find parties who cannot deliver even partial models. However, it is pretty much isolated to the design phase - we haven’t seen it being fully implemented by the contractors in the construction phase wholesale. Plus a few attempts to get it running for asset owners is also in a very early stage.

In EMEA it is different again, with Qatar and Dubai pushing it a lot.

In Australia New Zealand I suppose I would have to say that BIM hasn’t fully landed there yet, but there are some early adopters and it is about to really take off. This will probably get an even bigger push when an official standard comes along of course.[3]

FRANK WEISS - HEAD OF PRODUCT MANAGEMENT AT ACONEX

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For references see BIM Journal magazine.

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