How you Manage to fill the BIM Gap

In a previous post I talked about the BIM Gap. The main issue I pointed out was that people saw BIM as being separate from their core job function. In this post I'd like to suggest that one way to start filling that BIM gap is by educating your managers about what BIM people do.

It is my general observation that non-BIM people in the industry that have more than 5 years experience are the most likely to fall into the GAP. They have too much experience using non-BIM processes to easily incorporate the new tools BIM brings to the table. However, these are the same people that will be managing a BIM person on their project. This is where the BIM Gap starts.

The person managing the whole project still thinks of the process in the traditional way while managing a person that is supposed to be making the process work in a new way. BIM seems very mysterious to these managers so they are more than happy to let the BIM guy do their thing while they go about their business. Then as long as they see 3D models being created, they are pretty sure that everything is running the way it is supposed to. This will, more likely than not, lead to doing things the old fashioned way with some BIM models to show at presentations about the project. And that’s fine if that is the goal of your company. If it's not the goal of your company then you need to fix this issue through Education, Education, Education.

The Managers need to be educated in two things to start closing the BIM Gap:

1. There is no part of the construction process that is not affected by BIM.
The manager either needs to be brought totally up to speed or they need to seek out the BIM guys input on all processes so that nothing is missed. Option one is the better choice, but option two is much more likely. It would be nice if everyone could easily be converted to total understanding of how BIM tools can be incorporated. If it was that easy, this post would not be written.

The second option is one that requires some effort. Managers are going to have to stop keeping the BIM person at arm's length. This will be hard for managers that have spent a lifetime learning the process of construction only to be told that there are big sections of it they no longer understand. In an industry where small flaws in the plan lead to major catastrophes, it is difficult to accept that some "IT guy" is going to place "black boxes" in the construction process that is going to make it better. But if, as a manager, you are not going to learn what those "black boxes" do, then you will need to pick the right guy that you can trust to handle it for you.

2. BIM is not about Modeling, BIM is about the process.
The same process that we have always used to build, with new tools that enhance it. It does involve the creation of models. But the more important part of BIM is understanding how those models change communication and how they can be leveraged to streamline the processes we already have in place. This means that as a manager, when you have to pick a "BIM guy" you should not just pick the one that is most able to use computers. You should pick the one that is going to dig into those "black boxes", understand how they fit into the process, and communicate that to team members. A good "BIM guy" should be spending more time on the phone talking then in front of a computer modeling. Because at the end of the day a BIM person is supposed to be enhancing your processes and that takes a lot of communication, planning, and alignment of the involved parties.< This information is not all a Manager needs to know about BIM by a long shot. But it is some of the most crucial information they will need to start closing the BIM Gap.

6 Comments

  1. Alexander, unless I am wrong this was an attempt to direct people to sign a petition. Those posts don't belong here.

  2. I think there is a need to educate people about BIM. They will understand if they know the process.
    FischerDesignGroup.com

  3. Marc Howell

    I agree. As I have written in some of my previous postings;

    The most effective solution is a highly integrated and open process where we combine; I.P.D. (as the “process”), B.I.M. (as the “tool”), and LEAN (as a “philosophy”). The biggest challenge that we face on a daily basis is not the process itself, but an individual’s or organization’s reluctance to change.

    These “terms” are not exclusive. They are not “either or” and they are not “all or nothing”. They are most effective when the appropriate “parts and pieces” are combined together to meet the needs of the specific project. And even though “only people get things done”, this is accomplished as a team not as individuals.

  4. I don't want the thought to be that the model is unimportant. It is important and it is certainly necessary to the BIM process.

    You are right that the process does not need BIM to be successful. That would just mean that you are not using the BIM process.

    I think BIM does not start with the development of modeling requirements. It starts with your plan for the job. The first question when planning any work should be are we using a BIM process or not. Because if you choose to use a BIM process you need to ask yourself what you want to achieve with it. Only then can you decided how to develop your models. If you don't follow these steps ease of model creation and the models effectiveness diminish with time.

    Even deciding how to develop your model is a collaboration effort, not a modeling effort. It is an act of planning the work. The actual creation of the model is based on a plan that is supposed to achieve a desired result. It is coordinating all involved parties to that desired result through the use of a model that I consider the BIM process. And the actual creation of the model is the easiest part. If the plan is good all the modeler has to do is follow directions.

    The real point is that the initial goal and the final result are the same if you use the BIM process or not.

  5. Marc Howell

    Whoa! Hold on there cowboy.

    While I agree with your overall premise, I am not sure that I completely agree with your bullet point #2. In my opinion, BIM is about the model(s). It all starts with the development of the modeling requirements. But it is not just about the model(s).

    BIM is a tool to be utilized to provide the most value to the project / client. The “process” should be about integration and collaboration, which does not necessarily require BIM tools to be successful.

    That is how I see it anyway…

  6. No one can say we don't try to give solutions to the problems we post. I couldn't have said it better especially since I said tag you are it to post. Great conversation starter.

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