Can We Execute the BIM Execution Plan?

BIM Project Execution Plans (PxP's) have been a major pain point for me recently. I have spent too much time sitting around with pre-made tables that when filled out and then related back to a narrative are supposed to tell me how a project is supposed to work with BIM. BIM PxP's are starting to remind me of those career tests you take in high school. You spend a ton of time filling them out only
to get some vague output that does not do much to help you understand what your next step really should be.

I have never seen a functioning BIM Project Execution Plan. There might be one out there that works but I have never seen it. I know this statement might take some people by surprise. There are a lot of individuals who have spent a lot of time and effort trying to make functioning BIM PXP's. But the problem to date is that they all take the same approach.

An empty template is created that is supposed to be flexible enough to fit any situation and when it is completed it is supposed to be a tool that helps direct all audiences involved in BIM. The final product ends up being a bit of a conundrum. You can examine any part of the execution plan and the individual parts look good, but as a whole it does not work. Kind of like sports teams that look good on paper but just can't seem to perform. The worst problem is that most execution plans fail in providing what is needed most: an obvious statement of exactly what is needed and when it should be delivered.

The idea of an empty template is where these things always go wrong in the construction industry. The number of variables is not able to be accounted for in any narrative or chart. I have a sincere belief that we need to get past this idea of open flexibility and start to understand the only way you will create a functioning plan is by controlling the information that is going to be applied to the project. By being a little proactive you can seriously limit what needs to accounted for in the PxP. I know this is not always achievable but it should be put in place when it is possible.

I am sure this post will result in a lot of people telling me stories of their perfect execution plans and how they were used flawlessly by everyone on such and such project. And that might be true. I have had jobs that the execution plan does help with. I would much rather prefer to have one than not. The point that I am trying to make is that the original conception of the BIM PxP was flawed and it is time for it to change. We need a true "living" document that can demonstrate to a modeler how to proceed through the coordination process just as easily as it conveys to an owner what BIM is going to achieve for them on their project. It needs to be a document that is picked up and used for guidance on a jobsite. Not something that is filled out at the start of a job and put on a shelf only to be taken out for contract disputes.

17 Comments

  1. I have seen that other people have given their opinion about BIM modeling Services. It is true that BIM really help you for constructing the building with new design and style.You have written some major banefits of BIM Technology.A person, when visiting your blog site and read the content, he can easily understood everything.

  2. BIM has many more benefits and it is the future of construction industry. Thanks for sharing an awesome knowledge with readers. Keep Sharing

  3. I believe the problem with most PXPS is their underlying assumptions that are based on fallacies. The fallacies are:
    – The client will (must) control BIM on the project.
    – The BIM model is a single unified database (not a number of interacting databases).
    – All projects will use IPD.
    The reason I call them fallacies is not because they are never true, but because they are rarely true. Which is why most PXPs are not useful.
    I've fleshed this out in my blog: http://practicalbim.blogspot.com.au

  4. I can understand your interpretation about it being a people issue. But its not. The best people have little reason to use any BIM PxP for guidance. And the average user how even less reason. I'm sure your PxP's are working good enough for you. But I doubt I would find them to be acceptable. The typical workflows you mention I find to be unacceptable. The whole point of the post was to get everyone to rethink how PxP's have been applied because I don't think its good enough.

    • I want to clarify this statement a little. I think blaming the users is the easy way out. It is easy to say "if only everyone was as good as I am at BIM then there wouldn't be any issues". This type of elitism is what has made BIM hard to implement with the general user.

      The truth is the BIM people need to come up with a tool that works for everyone. We are only doing our job correctly when we make everyone around us better at what they already do. The expectation that everyone else in the industry needs to change to fit the "new" way is arrogant and incorrect. The BIM PxP's should be made for the general user not the BIM experts.

  5. Connor, my comment inspired a post: http://www.therevitcoach.com/2012/09/bim-management-lods-pxps-and-changing.html
    I agree somewhat with Aaron, if its an exercise of paper pushing which I have seen a lot of as a Business Consultant then its not being used as intended.

    I found that if your not having challenges with the PxP process, your not using it correctly. In my opinion the PxP is intended to stretch you and make you think through the process of planning things out. The model matrix outlines that you have found logic but the critical step is how you communicate and lead this throughout a project. I won't say it's perfect but it is a very good start.

    Good provocative play on words Conner.

    J

  6. I wont get in to a lengthy debate here, because Opinions are Opinions, and not statements of Fact. But, it sounds to me like you have more of a People problem, than a BIM-E problem.

    We have one, it gets fitted for every job, and edited for every job. Everyone (consultants included) review it and talk about it before a project starts. It has as much to do with mitigating and having realistic expectations, than it does legal-who-gives-a-damn-jargon.

    If they arent working for you, perhaps the team should stop considering it a paper pushing exercise, and start considering it as a road map to navigate all of the troubles you have on jobs. Give everyone an 8 hour gripe session, and take notes. "What makes my job hard?" There is the start of a good functioning BIM-E.

  7. John Evans

    BEPs have a place. The key thing about a BEP is to ensure it acts as a flexible yet dynamic dashboard that helps project manage a project at all levels.

    BIM is a very complex subject and when applied across the whole construction asset lifecycle (i.e. Design, Construction and FM/operations) is an enormous logistical undertaking.

    A well written BEP can be a catalyst in bringing the huge array of disparate parties together to ensure that information is provided in the right place at the right time and in a fit state for intelligent (and profitable) use by different parties throughout the lifecycle. In other words the key of a BEP is to ensure that upstream information is fit for downstream use and that information is delivered in the most efficient and productive manner and thereby reduce waste, rework, claims and litigation. Good BEPs help achieve this.

    The problem currently is that the construction industry (worldwide) does not fully comprehend the true benefits to be gained from BIM. It's early days, and BIM, BEPs and IPD are all in a state of flux with many organisations and people jockeying for a position. This is most evident by the number of organisations now offering BIM consultancy services on top of their core business. There is also a lot of hype surrounding BIM and most people still think of BIM in terms of software rather than process. BIM is a process, BEPs merely manage that process and roadmap successful project delivery and the software is simply a set of toolkits to deliver information.

    What we need to be more concerned about is information overload and incorrect information classification – a BEP can manage that risk.

    BEPs can be very loose, they don't need forms or spreadsheets or complex 'black box' diagrams – a project programme is a BEP. The difference is that a BEP should be a programme for the whole asset lifecycle not just something for a design team or a contractor. Owner employer's have as much to gain from a BEP as anyone else.

    Moreover, when you think about it, we humans have been constructing buildings for tens of thousands of years, so in fact we have been doing BIM and using BEPs in all that time – without realising it perhaps.

    The difference now is we have stacks of technology to facilitate construction and all that the likes of NBIMS, NATSPEC, BS/EN/ISO, Penn State Uni, Dept of Veteran Affairs and others are saying is 'for God's sake industry, stop reinventing the wheel and do things in a consistent and collaborative way to reduce waste and the burden on the poor tax payer'.

    I work for a very large UK based multi-disciplinary consultancy organisation. We cover all parts of the asset lifecycle from conception to refurb/demolition/site reclamation and everything in between, except we don't lay bricks (i.e. we are not a contractor). We are a very diverse organisation with many sectors/disciplines/contracts/clients all built around their own silos. Our BEP is fundamental to breaking down those silos (and the vested interests therein) as the business morphs into a holistic entity, offering clients 'cradle to grave' solutions with a loose fit 'pick and mix' approach facilitating any kind of project we choose to bid for.

    The BEP brings everything together under a single dashboard. The benefits of this are tangible in our SWOT analyses, ROI, KPI targets and the bottom line profitability improvements, and in the current worldwide recession that's saying something.

    If you have had bad experiences of BEPs, perhaps that's because you haven't used a good BEP or perhaps it's in your vested interests to maintain the adversarial construction environment that is directly responsible for all the waste the industry generates. After all, for some, waste equals money too.

    • John I think you cover it pretty good except for the VA with their instructions on how to use the instructions. One of the biggest problems with PxPs as I see it as it is sold asa living document but because of lawyers few want to really treat it that way. As you said its about money and lawyers love money. Where I work we developed our own after looking at a lot of the sources you maded and drawing from what we liked and didn't like we disregarded. With that being said it still is tough to get everyone to use it from cradel to grave as you say and I think it comes down to people are the biggest problem not the concept of the PxP.

    • John, I would very much like to know what types of clients you are typically dealing with when you are employing your BEP's successfully.

      I agree with you wholeheartedly when you say that “BIM is a very complex subject and when applied across the whole construction asset lifecycle (i.e. Design, Construction and FM/operations) is an enormous logistical undertaking.”

      A continuing obstacle that I see comes from the fact that each party still tends to define “lifecycle” differently.

      I have been involved from an owners perspective now in trying to implement BIM in our organization and after talking with what seems to be countless A/E's, Contractors, BIM consultants, and other Owners, I feel I can confidently say that almost none of them truly have a grasp on what is required from a large complex organizations facilities standpoint.

      Without a common understanding by all participants on what each part actually means, the executing a BEP is in deep trouble from the start.

      From a facilities standpoint, I am much more interested in FIM than BIM. BIM is only a part of my overall process, but its successful implementation on a project could make life much simpler as we operate that facility for the next 50 to 75 years.

  8. Static BIM Implementation Plans that become attachments to static legal agreements almost always fail. Occasionally, a stellar A Team can overcome the series of defective legal instruments and attachments – including check the box BIM Implementation Plans – their lawyers foist on them, but it's rare. The key to successfully adopting, adapting, deploying and executing IPD, BIM and lean processes is the use of collaborative workshops to craft, negotiate, execute and maintain flexible integrated agreements. Such agreements need incentivize and reward the collaborative, cooperative and ACCOUNTABLE behavior necessary to the success of an integrated team operating in an IPD environment. When those things happen a good integrated team has a fighting chance to achieve IPD and deliver BIM enabled facilities and infrastructure while utilizing effective lean processes. Sans integrated / collaborative agreements the various stakeholders simply thrash around at the bottom of their own silo, bound by incredibly bad legal agreements their lawyers and insurance carriers tell them are necessary. It's sad really.

  9. Now you are asking for trouble. The problem is that this is just scratching the surface of both aspects of BIM planning that have been discussed at this blog. BxP and LOD topics require the serious overhaul and I need a solid chunk of time to address both. They are flawed in one big way and that is that they both represent a bureaucratic solution to a technology problem. Transposing an ideal case solution that has been concatenated in a semi academic environment and applying its rigidity to a process were variability is the modus operandi defies the logic.
    Both will stay within the reach of a practical solution as long as the content creating platforms and the standards at which they operate are not capable of restricting the uncertainty of deliverables. More to come….

    • Well said. This is without a doubt the source of many BIM issues right now. Realizing this gives us the ability to start to search for something better. I'm sure you're already working on it Tomislav.

  10. Anonymous

    Perhaps a part of the problem is that BIM PxPs aren't used properly. As you said, they get put on a shelf and pulled out for contract disputes more than they are truly used as originally intended. I'm thinking a big flaw is in the application by the personnel, not necessarily the plans themselves. Anything can look good on paper but when it comes right down to it, how the process is applied is what really counts.

  11. Finaly, a guy willing to tell the truth. Thank you for the fresh air. I would be very interested in talking with you about what is reasonable and not reasonable in a bim execution plan. Our discussion should lead to improvements in public agency requirements, and the US NBIMS. bill.east@us.army.mil

    • Bill, I would be glad to give you my opinions anytime and I would be glad to contribute to NBIMS as well.

    • If we are lucky Connor will be the new Vice-Chair

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