Accreditation Stifles Innovation: BIM Accreditation Debate

As the deadline of 2016 draws closer and the pressure mounts for the construction sector to become BIM Level 2 ready, the question beckons as to whether the industry will soon see the introduction of BIM accreditation.

With the development of specifications such as PAS 1192-2 and PAS 1192-3, it is feared that a hype to accredit BIM will flood the market place. With a vision to promote excellence and innovation within the construction sector, Project Five discusses the fundamental reasons as to why BIM should remain unaccredited and why industry bodies should resist the temptation to do so.


In order to understand our view point, there is a need to step back and look again at the definition of BIM;


an integrated digital process providing co-ordinated, reliable information about a project through all phases from design through construction and into operation.”


As the definition suggests, BIM is much more than the creation of 3D models through the use of space-age technologies. BIM stems much deeper; successful adoption requires the aligning of cultural and behavioural factors with consistent processes and systems to bring about a collaborative way of working, allowing the production of reliable information.  With this in mind, Project Five poses their first question; “how would accreditation measure these fundamental cultural and behavioural factors?”  As highly subjective components, at best, measurement of these factors can be challenging.


As firm believers in the improvement agenda, Project Five seeks to enhance levels of innovation in the construction sector. One method of achieving innovation is through the implementation of BIM processes. Contractors and their integrated supply chains can differentiate themselves through their approach to BIM, promoting healthy competition within the market place. It is argued that the introduction of accreditation would stifle innovation and the drive to achieve excellence; promoting mere compliance. Arguably, a “tick box exercise” which clearly BIM isn’t and there can be no “BIM glass ceiling”.


However, rest assured we aren’t totally against the concept of accreditation; we can see both sides of the coin. Accreditation has been of great use for Health and Safety, Quality Management and Environmental Management. But here at Project Five we passionately feel that accreditation isn’t the right route for BIM. On the surface organisations may be displaying the characteristics of being “BIM ready”, however, as highlighted previously, the cultural and behavioural changes required to achieve successful adaptation to BIM practices run much deeper. In order to deliver a BIM Level 2 maturity the project culture must be right; an integrated supply chain working to achieve a common vision to enable a collaborative working environment is key to a well delivered project. After all, ticking a box or simple accreditation doesn’t necessarily mean a well delivered project.


Author Profile:


Dr Andy Ainsworth (on Twitter as @_fiveandya) is an Associate Director for Project Five Consulting Ltd.


Having worked for over 15 years in research and project management within the environmental sector, Andy has been able to work with a range of public and private organisations, large and small. His main area of expertise are sustainability covering topics such as low carbon construction, waste management, and more recently building information modelling (BIM). As industry works towards becoming BIM ready in advance of the 2016 deadline, Andy’s key drive is to aid SME’s in successfully implementing BIM processes to enhance their BIM capabilities.