Best BIM Bad BIM: David Light

Best BIM Bad BIM - David Light

Answered from either a personal or industry-viewpoint perspective, Best BIM Bad BIM sees a member of the #GlobalBIMCrew divulge their best and worst BIM experiences and what they have learned from both.

In the spotlight today is David Light, Customer Success Manager at Autodesk. He discusses KISS (‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’, not the Gene Simmons variety) and how that principle is vital for Building Information Modelling success.

What is David’s Best BIM experience and what does he feel the industry is excelling in?

Probably my best BIM experiences have been when I’ve worked with teams or individuals who have not been convinced that BIM is for them; its too hard to do or doesn’t provide any value. Then over time, through small successes they change their opinions to become hardcore advocates of the process and the supporting technologies.

BIM is not about producing a 3D model, it’s about extending the boundaries through the use & reuse of a digital data set. Our industry is going through unbelievable change driven by the technology disruption, new consumer related demands as well as changes in products. Whether it’s a piece of equipment, a train, a whole building or urban revitalization, products are being transformed as the digital and physical worlds become deeply intertwined.

If we look at Moore’s Law in terms of computing power, there is a correlation with the speed of this transformation process and technology evolution. The connected world is making for a more enlightened consumer base. There is an expectation that we can deliver high value, better quality and superior designed projects. BIM is indeed a disruptive process and we are only at the beginning of the art of the possible, yet it requires a tough change management regime which is often hard to manage & implement. People by their very nature don’t like change, especially when their tried and tested processes and old fashioned ways have worked for many years. Connect that with the speed of technology development and it can be very scary. It only seems like yesterday that the only way to collaborate and exchange data was to use fax machine!

However, nobody even consider using a fax machine to send data now. You have to take people on a journey and without doubt the KISS principle (keep it simple, stupid) is crucial. But what I often find is with baby steps and small wins, developments will cascade very quickly. Being able to take people on that journey and encourage them to view things from a different perspective is an exciting challenge. BIM is more about people, than it is about technology.

The BIM industry, specifically the UK‘s, has developed a robust set of world class standards, which sets a framework and language for delivery and building information management. Whilst it has often been a frustrating journey to get complete clarity on what these standards actually mean & how they will be interpreted, I am convinced it is now settling down.

Others around the globe are looking to the UK and taking many of these components to drive their own guidelines forward. I don’t believe we will ever see one recognised global BIM standard, but there are huge overlaps in what different geographies require from BIM.

What I now want to see is a run rate of success stories on Level 2 BIM before businesses jump to adding further numbers to the BIM Level abilities. I want to see BIM just become “this is how we deliver projects”, utilising new ways of thinking with innovation and technology for better design outcomes.

What have been Bad BIM experiences for David? What does he believe are the worst trends in BIM?

Whilst I can’t name the project and it was indeed a number of years ago, my worst BIM experience is when expectations were oversold to the client. There was no execution plan, the clarity of outline design data & survey information was dreadful, deliverables were not well defined, the team were poorly trained, the systems being applied had limitations and the team had little experience of using technologies being implemented.

The management answer was to throw additional resources at the project to fire fight and after selling the BIM vision, they didn’t want to lose face. Nobody much cared about the project, because all those who got involved realised it was toxic. The Project Manager didn’t resource the team correctly and to be honest it was a complete disaster. It scared many on that team and once it went bad, there was no turning back! It was fuel to those that didn’t believe in the concept of BIM.

I would suggest many of your readers will have had similar experiences and I learned a lot from this project. It didn’t dent my enthusiasm for using BIM; more that you can’t take a traditional 2D methodology and think you can use BIM without refining your project delivery processes and ensure you can deliver what you have sold.

What lessons has David learned from both his Best and Bad experiences?

BIM is not perfect; it isn’t a magic solution to address all your project needs in a single step. It’s often over sold. I’ve seen PQQs which ask for Level 5 BIM, what ever that is?!

Its implementation requires a continuous improvement programme and you need to know how to scale it. I’ve said it on many occasions, you can’t buy a box of BIM. I still stand by that statement even now. The process need strong foundations and leadership support within the business to ensure it’s a success. If you are fighting from the trenches without that support to mandate BIM, then you will never see the benefits and the value.

I have learnt you need governance, collaboration & data management systems, support service and a change management programme. You need robust model development data requirements to ensure you can clearly articulate your BIM deliverables. You need to be able to verify and validate your data to ensure its fit for purpose. Finally, you have to be able measure and quantify success however small.

Learn more about David via his LinkedIn and Twitter profiles.

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