Why do I say this? If you generally ask a design principal “What does BIM look like to your firm and how does it fit in the overall process?” many times they will paint you the ‘BIM in the Center’ picture. The same generally holds true for the construction executive. But if you ask an owner a similar question you will often get a linear diagram. Interesting… right? Why do you think that is?
Now, ask the same principal and executive to explain the process of how each division within their organization pushes and pulls information from the model; most likely it will be a much different picture. More often than not, it takes on a more linear shape with information flowing in one direction and visual interpretation being the source.
So do all roads lead to BIM? My answer is not yet. Will they? Possibly! A traditional process still trumps in most situations and a strong foundation is essential.
Plus is BIM not an enabler to make your conventional process better? If that were the case, then why would it be centralized as the “Hub”? That thought process has gotten many in trouble and is one of the reasons why you see the market in the slide from the Peak of Inflated Expectations into the Trough of Disillusionment I wrote about last month*. Should not a solid communication process be the “Hub”?
I think we all agree holistically, BIM can touch many parts of our business from design to construction to operations and maintenance. So if BIM is to go beyond just a CAD platform on steroids (some would even argue that) should not the information going into it be valid or validated? If you have a terrible traditional process with holes in your story, lack of understanding of the data generation, or waste and inefficiencies, then BIM tools just generate bad information faster. This also sets up the BIM team for failure, especially those communicating to the executives. BIM Managers are some of the smartest people I have met, but absolutely do NOT know everything. If all roads lead to BIM and BIM can fix all your problems, then you my friend are just buying time to failure.
So in good EpicBIM form I will help layout a plan…
- This is a “Must”… Identify your organizational priorities. You can only provide a solution if you understand the problem. BIM may not even be your solution at the time. If you do not understand where the finish line is, you will have a hard time crossing it.
- Get back to basics… Fill the gaps in your process first. BIM will not fill them for you; BIM will only make it worse. For example, if your pre-construction team lacks the ability to quickly produce historical cost data budgets for a client, then how do you plan to apply this process to the BIM? If young modelers are not familiar with your cost estimating methodologies, then are they supposed to just “wing it and hope extracted quantities make sense?”
- Address the overlapping issues first. This is always a nice win for the team. Especially if BIM as a tool plays a role in fixing an issue. You will get greater buy-in from multiple fronts. Try and stay away from addressing a path that only you or a few understand. People will put you in a corner and it can prove hard to get out of. And make sure you complete the objective, never give up until success is achieved. Many times people give up too easy and it negatively affects those around them (including your credibility).
- Quit parading the roadmap around your organization that BIM is the “Hub”, all roads lead to it and swinging the stick that everyone conforms to this way of thinking. Better yet, find your technology champions and put your efforts into growing them, teach them everything you know, they will respond by doing the same for you.
- And finally, another very important step, know where your data is coming from. If your team understands the data being generated and can spend time validating it, they are very likely to move forward. This needs to be adjusted for each organization, each division, and each individual. People are generally afraid to give up control, when you automate something that is exactly what they are doing. Be patient! There is no set mandate or standard that can get them through it. It will only walk them out the door.
My goal is to see Building Information Management succeed in our industry. I believe that is the goal of many. As mentioned, a solid foundation is key to successful implementation of BIM and other emerging technologies. Build this and the pieces can fall into place. And don’t try to boil the ocean!