BIM: What happens after you’ve decided to take the plunge?

It is more than likely that during the past year you will have heard a few key buzzwords and phrases such as “BIM”, “Parametric Modelling”, “Cobie”, “IPD”, “BIMEX” and “PAS-1192”, to name but a few.

 

With this in mind, it is great to see the design approach becoming more fashionable and productive. But with all the talk about introducing BIM, what is often omitted is the emphasis on what is done next.

 

Let us assume you have spent hours researching and attending conferences, and you like the market potential that is on offer. You have expressed your views, explored the benefits and discussed the costs to senior management. Perhaps you have also succeeded obtaining approval to go ahead and embrace BIM.  But you are then faced with an important question: “What is the next step?”

 

This is where I would like to turn the abbreviation BIM into BIMM (Building Information Modelling & Management). Many software marketers express BIM as the use of authoring programmes, when in fact, it is a design approach. In other words, technology should only enhance the methodology.

 

I have endeavoured to keep the BIMM plan simple and I have therefore broken it down into five key phases:

 

Phase One – SWOT Analysis

The purpose of this phase is to identify and explore the reasons and motives behind your plan. Ask yourself questions such as: What do you want BIMM to do for you? As a designer, are you looking to improve the quality of your designs? As a contractor, is reducing errors and improving KPIs your main objective? These questions will provide you with the best starting approach and improve efficiency throughout the projects.  

 

Phase Two – Standards

The next step is to ensure company procedures are merged and fully compliant with BIMM standards. This means researching the BIM Maturity Diagram, PAS 1192-2, plain language questions, digital Plan of Work (dPOW), CIC BIM protocol, employers information requirements (EIRs), model production, delivery table and other appendices. These documents will be the backbone of the company, and the main driving force for enhanced quality, cost and design. It is also critical that each staff member should understand the objectives within these documents.

 

Phase Three – IT

After the theoretical approach to phase one and two, you should now be in a position to assess your IT obligations. This is where initial costs will be needed to improve your facilities. However, technology within the industry is improving and there are benefits to be reaped with the usage of cloud computing systems. Unfortunately for me, when I started BIMM during 2006, cloud computing was only a myth.

 

 

The idea behind cloud computing is the usage of software over the internet. If your firm’s mission is purely to design, your IT options will most likely be to either improve technology or cloud compute. However, as a contractor you may be looking at time-sequencing and clash detection. If this is the case, your IT systems will not need a massive improvement. This is due to the different usage of authoring software, depending on the organisation’s objectives.

  

Phase Four – Authoring Software Training

Let us consider that you know what authoring software your company needs (I won’t go into choosing the right software as that is another post all in itself). You are therefore nearly at the point where you can practice BIMM on projects. The next hurdle to overcome is training your staff. There are many options available on how to get your staff ready, but a reactive approach at this phase is the right one. Having staff trained a year in advance before a project is inefficient. By the time the scheme starts, staff will have forgotten what they have learnt. The reactionary method will always keep knowledge fresh. Each training plan will depend on a project’s size, but a lead-in of one to two months of training before the project starts will give you a fighting chance.

 

 

Phase Five – Projects and Continual Improvement

Once you have arrived at this phase, take some time to adjust and test the skills you have learnt from all the previous four phases. Whether you are modelling, or running clash detections, your best approach is to continually maintain and evolve your workflow process. In my opinion, this is the main objective to any BIMM project.

 

As you begin tumbling down the rabbit hole of BIM, it is important to remember why I suggested that the abbreviation should be changed to BIMM. The process must be managed. Not just this, but it must be done in a structured way and planned efficiently and correctly. Furthermore, the software can allow the management process to be seen, whilst helping automatically to save time and cost.

 

 

This five phase list has been created from my own trial and error experiences, and although it is only a subjective viewpoint and suggestion, I do encourage readers to give it a try in order to see the inevitable and invaluable benefits.

 

If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

 

Written by Chris Van Essen, sub edited by Ross Shapland of shapstick.wordpress.org.

 

Chris Van Essen (@cvedesigns) is an Architectural Designer & BIMM Manager for the multi-disciplined practice Ellis Belk Associates Ltd (www.ellisbelk.com). The company undertakes a full range of professional skills encompassing the traditional roles of Architect and Building Surveyor with members of the professional staff qualified as Architects, Chartered Building Surveyors, Corporate Building Engineers, Architectural Technologists and Code for Sustainable Homes Assessors.  Chris takes a personal interest in the direction of BIMM. He has been working with BIMM since 2006 and is passionate about education and training to equip the future of our industry with valuable and desirable skills.

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