Start as you mean to go on

We recently received an invitation to tender from a project manager. In many ways the quality of the documentation was what we have come to expect.

It was the usual attempt to make sure they give you everything and then let you decide how to respond accordingly. As part of this process the client was also looking for BIM Level 2, along with mentioning the requirement for PAS 1192-2:2013 and COBie. The fact that these items are being included is great – it’s a sign that clients are coming to the party. However, it is also showing there is a missing link when it comes to advising clients.

 

I know that Rob Charlton has somewhat stuck the knife in with Cost Consultants previously but I think we really need to look closer at the role Project Managers (or those performing this role) play on a BIM Project. Project Managers are often the first person the client goes to, to put together a team for their projects on larger projects. Project Managers have a key role to play in setting up projects and creating a project that will achieve their clients’ aspirations.

 

So if we follow PAS 1192-2 faithfully, Project Managers should be sending out invitations to tender to design team members which include, as a minimum, the Employers Information Requirements (EIR). If a Project Manager doesn’t have the skills to develop what is actually a fairly technical document then they should seek help in preparing these documents. Simply asking for BIM Level 2 and including references to national standards is not enough. Not including the EIRs is almost the project equivalent of asking an architect for a building design without telling him what it is, where it is and roughly what the budget is. This document is crucial in setting out the client’s requirements.

 

The tender documentation should ask for the consultant or contractor teams to respond to the EIR. PAS 1192-2:2013 requires this to be done with a Pre-Contract BIM Execution Plan. The term “Pre-Contract” is a little misleading in my opinion as it sounds like it refers to the main contract but what it means is before anyone enters into contract with the client, including consultants. Alternatively the questions used in PAS 91:2013 could be used (note: these are also now embedded into Constructionline) to find out what a consultants capability is. And of course there is nothing to stop you producing your own questions. Of course there is little point in using any of these questions if you don’t know what answers to expect. It shouldn’t be a box ticking exercise, although I fear it may become this. Again, you may need assistance in reviewing the tenders’ submissions.

 

With the above information the client is likely to benefit in two ways. Firstly, they will put together a team capable of delivering their requirements. The bidding process will allow them to assess the design team’s capability and make a judgement about who is best to help deliver their requirements. Secondly, the design team will be able to provide a better fee and response to these requirements. This allows everyone to be clear about what is and isn’t included.

 

Of course we should not forget that client’s should expect to pay a little more in fees for Asset Information Models (AIM) ie. COBie. Some might argue this should be free, but that’s a whole new opinion piece in itself. My simple argument is if it isn’t worth paying for, it can’t be that useful to anyone. If someone can provide it in their existing fees then so be it. Personally I’m not convinced. However professional fees should not be looked at in isolation. Clients need to realise that with BIM they will start to pay less for construction overall and ultimately less on the running of their projects. Armed with valuable data they should be able to make informed decisions moving forward about their facilities.

 

My advice to clients is therefore to make sure your project manager, who is assisting in assembling the project team, also understands enough about BIM. BIM impacts on a whole host of issues including project programming, tendering and the level of information required at each stage. They will also need to work with the Information Manager (described in the CIC BIM Protocol) where one is employed. The Project Manager is part of the team and therefore should be on the same wavelength as the rest of the project team. A united and fully collaborative project team will help deliver projects smoothly, which can only help benefit clients.

 

 

So as I see it, a great BIM project is only going to be great if it starts well. All too often we end up with someone on the team who doesn’t have the tools and skills, or worse still they have both of these but aren’t prepared to do ‘extra’ as its not included in their fees. Even where ‘BIM’ is agreed there will be detailed disagreements about what is included. We can avoid all of this by being clear about what is required from the very outset.

 

 

 

By Rob Jackson, Bond Bryan Architects

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