Opinion

The BIM Manager pt 1

 

From BIM Journal. Click Here to Read Issue 2

With the role of the Information Manager now fairly well defined (here), the nature and extent of the function, reach and significance of the BIM Manager should be easier to outline. It is hoped.

Official/ Non-Official

Many roles and responsibilities are mentioned in key standards and guidance documentation, yet the named role of the BIM Manager does not feature at all. Neither does BIM Coordinator, BIM Modeller nor BIM Consultant. Could it be that these roles already exist?

A draughtsman many years ago used pen and paper on a drawing board, then CAD, before migrating to BIM authoring tools to generate the exact same views and information needed. The role stayed the same - merely the underlying technology shifted (and then some). A car mechanic using a digital diagnosis machine may now be an Automotive Technician, but the end result or “deliverable” of what this means, to diagnose and repair cars, has also remained the same.  In the case of the aforementioned “BIM” roles, it surely comes down to the role that any given individual already has, and how much it lends itself to absorbing the duties of the generally established BIM workflow thereafter, as to whether or not this individual is anything like “suitable”.

As such, seemingly anybody willing or able enough could become a BIM Manager. What we need to focus on are the specific traits needed to fulfil the role and, thanks to the extensive canvassing of leading industry practitioners undertaken, form a detailed consensus on the duties of the role outright in order to establish its look and feel much more clearly.

Relationship - Project Wide

The Information Manager needs to agree and establish the information deliverables from all project parties in terms of what information is needed, when, and by whom to honour the MIDP and other project particulars to deliver the Employer's Requirements in full. Consequently, the key personnel that represent the separate organisations in a BIM capacity are very likely the BIM Managers. Whether they call themselves this or not.

Compounding the confusion further however, the Information Manager may well be the leading parties’ BIM Manager, who has adopted the Information Manager duties, as these duties have ultimately been positioned to be absorbed by other roles already, as we have learned, but the project may officially need somebody nominated in the Information Manager role regardless. Somebody has to steer it at any given time and that person has to be named.

That said, parking Information Manager duties to one side, the BIM Manager should therefore prepare the pre and post BIM Execution Plans and understand the reach and implications of the MIDP and MPDT that they or their colleagues are subsequently agreeing to. However there is growing evidence of the title being given to people who have experience using the software but not necessarily any experience when it comes to understanding how a building is put together or indeed how to manage a team of people[18].

As such, this suggest an important nay senior role for an individual who is well versed with sufficient contractual knowledge when it comes to planning technical work and associated project risks. As well as being an open and clear communicator all that good stuff. This is also where we see BIM Consultants come into play, which is unsurprising given the necessary levels of commitment and control necessary to honour such a role.

Indeed many BIM Consultants and indeed BIM Managers are subsequent “BIM Evangelists” and are in a good position to happily advise the client and others. Although it is often felt by some that Project Managers should start to step up a gear when it comes to advising clients about BIM and the value of data in the first place, but I digress.

Certainly the BIM Consultant often tends to be the person that Frank Weiss (Aconex) hints at  as being the kind of individual that has been parachuted in to plug BIM specific knowledge shortfalls as felt by the already harangued Project Manager. If we were to generalise his comments further[3].

But the additional appreciation of the intricacies of BIM are paramount to the role and, very often the ‘lead’ BIM Manager may also put steps in place to make sure that all personnel benefit from collaborative training sessions and CPD initiatives project wide. That kind of thing.

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Many select individuals have morphed into what we see as a kind of BIM Consultant, who can also be, more or less, an external party advising a client or project participant of the whole BIM journey, items such as:

  • What do you need in terms of budget?

  • What is your IT blueprint?

  • What knowledge do you need to have?

  • What education and training will be needed?

  • What is the journey for your specific organisation in terms of a pilot project, or two or three projects?

  • What is the investment case?

  • What are the BIM use cases you should pursue?

  • How should we involve other parties? etc.

Before they do a full rollout. This role can also be done by a so called BIM Manager, but now we get to the point where the BIM Manager role kind of breaks apart into different pieces. Such as a BIM Coordinator or a BIM Engineer etc. It really depends on the size of the project.[3]

FRANK WEISS - HEAD OF PRODUCT MANAGEMENT AT ACONEX

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Relationship - Internal

The above already sizeable undertaking is the easy bit. Within the organisation that the esteemed BIM Manager works a torrent of other responsibilities are to be met. These are often split into People, Process, Policy and Technology[12] and, as we examine these realms further this exercise also begins to outline where the role of the BIM Manager ends and that of the BIM Coordinator begins...

Part 2 here.

For references see BIM Journal magazine.

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