Company Spotlight: BIM Bicycle

Credit: BIM Bicycle
Credit: BIM Bicycle

Company Spotlight does exactly what it says on the proverbial tin. Learn all about the history, BIM journey and latest Building Information Modelling developments of some of the industry’s most-recognised names. Much like the last edition, we are headed to Australia today to learn about BIM Bicycle and their online BIM Execution Plan.

“I believe that as humans, we have a real capacity to work together. Unfortunately we often simply just don’t have the right tools at hand, and whilst some of that could be attributed to silo mentality, or perhaps some deep seated cultural behaviour, we think that given a better tools, we could work together better. And no, the answer is not ‘more email’ – more coordination, less email!” – Michael Clothier, BIM Bicycle Founder

Michael Clothier is Director of BIM consulting firm Virtual Built Pty Ltd. Virtual Built provides BIM Management and Coordination services for projects in Australia. As a project BIM Manager Michael kept questioning why it wasn’t easier to manage the BIM project. There weren’t (back then) any tools to help you manage your BIM project – the best you could do to manage a multidisciplinary team was BIM Execution Plan (a clunky PDF) and email. And so, deciding to do something about it, he set about launching BIM Bicycle.

The Problem

Central to any BIM project is a BIM Execution Plan, or Management Plan – typically a document outlining the protocols and requirements of the BIM, the evolution of model(s), and instructions on who’s who, and the how to’s. This document is then an important and useful tool to not only the BIM team, but to the greater project team, an agreement between all project stakeholders how the information model will be developed.

“Professionals and technicians with any degree of experience in BIM projects recognise the need for a BIM Execution/Management Plan,” explained Michael. “Used affectively it can have a real positive affect on project performance and team efficiency. It reminds me of a quote from a structural engineer: ‘the most important decisions that affect getting a decent building, occur in the very preliminary phases of design… it’s a little like almost anything else. If you start off on the right path, it’s not hard to do things right’ – Henry Degenkolb.

“Similarly, with a good BIM plan in place at the beginning of a project, the models, and those utilising them, can really be effective.”

The many complexities of a BIM project cannot be underestimated, and having a plan of attack from the beginning of the project goes a long way toward the success of it. Not only that, a BEP that evolves as the project evolves will also ensure the team adapts where needed, especially as new members of the team come on board.

However, the current means of developing a BEP is to write it in a word document, save it as a PDF, and then attach it in an email to the team. Collaborating on this document as a team isn’t easy, maintaining a ‘Live’ document is very hard. Getting all members of the project team to utilise, and read it (including the newly hired graduate architect!) is extremely difficult.

Elaborating on the aforementioned point, Clothier stated: “When we collaborate we can achieve so much more. Henry Ford once said: ‘if everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.’ In the BIM space it’s exactly the same; BIM projects require everyone to work together. The moment disciplines or teams start pulling the model in different directions, the BIM Process begins to break down.”

The Solution

BIM Bicycle is set to change this. BIM Bicycle is a collaborative online BIM plan that takes that pain out of authoring and distributing a BEP.

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Writing a BEP from scratch is a very time consuming exercise, so BIM Bicycle has templates built in. The first step when authoring a plan is to select a template. BIM Bicycle currently supports the NATSPEC template and the Penn State University BEP, with plans to support many more (and your own) in the near future.

It’s intended that all members of the project team are invited into the project, not just the Model Managers. This provides clarity and certainty to everyone on the team – something that is typically left to the more technical.

BIM Bicycle goes far beyond the standard email out, by automatically notifying all project team members of any changes and comments to different sections of the BIM plan.

BIM Bicycle is more than just a static BIM Management Plan, it’s the collaboration space for your BIM team to share documents, linked resources, manage content and describe recommended workflows. BIM Bicycle can help your team to easily share important information and work together more smoothly.

The project dashboard shows all of the project information in one place whilst the activity feed provides a real-time view of all the recent changes and updates. Our latest development keeps the team on target with status updates, and current milestones and overall percentage complete. We’ve even built a Discussion Items section where you can add just about anything. For example, BIM Bicycle allows you to share download links to clash detection reports, or meeting minutes etc. In this way, BIM Bicycle hopes to be the hub where all project related BIM information can be found.

Because BIM Bicycle is easily updated, the BEP then can source real-time tables and charts. Instead of diluting the BEP down so that it won’t be out of date in a month, BIM Bicycle can contain embedded Google spreadsheets, Excel Online, embedded flowcharts from the many flowchart makers and even embedding a calendar.

What’s the Bicycle thing?

“What’s the bicycle got to do with the price of eggs in China?” Michael says. “One of the things that really separates us from the high primates is that we’re tool builders. Humans are tool builders, we build tools to help us do a job, and a bicycle is just that – a machine of machines, a tool that gets us from A to B efficiently and effectively, and it doesn’t cost us really anything (very little energy). We’re working on a BIM Bicycle to get the project to where it needs to go.”

Michael and the team at BIM Bicycle are excited about the future BIM space and look forward to helping teams work together efficiently, and deliver better projects with tools that actually enable team work and getting things done.

BIM Bicycle is still in Beta and really is just at the beginning of its journey. Michael and his team need users and invite you early adopters to get your project up and running at BIM Bicycle.

For more on BIM Bicycle, find them via their various online channels: BIM Bicycle | BIM Bicycle on Twitter | Michael Clothier on LinkedIn | Michael Clothier on Twitter

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