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.
Today’s interviewee is Fiona Moore, BIM Consultant at Cirrus Consultant Services. Fiona is a diversely-skilled and multi-talented professional with the Building Information Modelling community, regularly carrying out strategic BIM consultancy in addition to BIM Training and the management and writing of BIM bid documentation for clients.
What is Fiona’s Best BIM experience and what does she believe the industry is doing best at the moment?
I love my job as a BIM consultant; helping organisations big and small with their BIM journey, be they client or supplier, I aim to play my small part in improving the construction industry, by helping to create not only financial, but also social value.
What encourages me when it comes to suppliers is, that for some, BIM is ceasing to be something provided only when a client is asking for it; what I’m starting to see is some supply chain members realising key benefits themselves, whilst at the same time many are helping clients to better understand what it is they might ask for and the value that verified/validated information can ultimately provide over the whole asset lifecycle.
It’s often hard for people to imagine implementing something that is seemingly so disruptive to their working life when they’re in the thick of projects, deadlines, relentless pressure and the resultant stress. Despite this however, some of my best recent BIM experiences have involved providing BIM Introduction Workshops to those who are at the sharp end of construction, namely design and site managers, and my insight into the increasing adoption of ‘field BIM’.
We know that successful delivery of construction projects involves identifying and mitigating risk; and site operatives who have assurance, via BIM processes, that a design is actually coordinated and buildable, will see the amount of risk on a project reduce, whilst they themselves can deliver increased quality, on programme, rather than having to ‘fire fight’ their way through buildability issues. There is obviously an economic value to these improvements; however, we often overlook the fact that some of the cost savings will be derived from the wellbeing and resultant increased productivity of those who have a better day to day work experience; hence the social value.
What is Fiona’s worst BIM Experience? What does she believe are Bad trends in BIM?
Despite what I’ve said about better design coordination and de-risking, it can’t be stated often enough that the real power of BIM lies in the procurement and then active use of verified/validated information. In order to achieve this we have to start with the end in mind, with clients providing clear Employers Information Requirements (EIR). However, my experience is that many clients are still struggling to do this, despite the publication of ‘PAS1192-3 Specification for information management for the operational phase of assets using building information modelling’ in 2014, which outlines a process by which clients define what information they want by considering their Organisational Information Requirements (OIR) and in turn the Asset Information Requirements (AIR).
Why is this still a problem for many clients? Well one frequent reason is due to the fact that those with operational responsibilities are not engaging with those who are responsible for capital projects, due to separate capital and operational budgets, badly structured incentives and unaligned management hierarchies; and therefore it’s clear to me that in order address this issue, top level management insight, ownership and oversight is required. Personally I don’t see enough high level buy-in to BIM; not just amongst Client organisations, but also when it comes to suppliers too.
What lessons has Fiona learned from both her Best and Bad experiences?
As a BIM consultant I still occasionally come across organisations that believe BIM, in its entirety, is something that can be bought from external experts. It’s true that an expert will be needed to help with strategic implementation, provision of technical/IT solutions, training etc.; however, the best way forward is to embed BIM in everything that we do, in order to gain direct benefits throughout all construction organisations and at all phases of an asset lifecycle. In fact, ultimately the job of the BIM consultant is to make ourselves redundant.
Putting BIM processes at the centre of business improvement, also requires good change management, an understanding of what benefits / value are top of the agenda for that organisation and avoiding the temptation to change too much at once; it’s often best to start with something specific and build on your success, rather than trying to do too much at once and failing.
In the longer term, it appears obvious that the use of digital construction methods and the resulting assured data will be very disruptive to our industry and this will result in those who adopt digital methods in a planned proactive way, being more competitive and successful than others.
It’s really fantastic to see the smile appear on the face of site operatives when the benefits of BIM are explained to them, but what I want to see is the smile on the face of more members of their senior management teams, when they realise that BIM and digital construction will be key to their business’ prosperity and even longevity – well hopefully it will be a smile, that is if that moment of realisation comes soon enough…
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