Amid the BIM metaphors and cliches, please let’s remember the client


The BIM world is full of metaphors and cliches. A colleague of mine recently harked back to the term “silver bullet”, which got bandied about when BIM emerged into the mainstream in the UK six or seven years ago. Naive in hindsight perhaps… Or maybe it was desperation in the face of the economic downturn. A lot has happened since, most of it positive, but many are still bemused, lacking confidence and seeking leadership.

Who has the most important role in fulfilling the promise, taking the initiative (forging the bullet as it were), the design team, the contractor, the project manager, the cost consultant, even the CDMC coordinator? All have staked their claim.

I sense we are a long way away from achieving the vision on Level 2 compliance by 2016

The UK has made great progress in setting the worldwide standards for BIM adoption over the last three years and centres of excellence have emerged. But I sense we are a long way away from achieving the vision on Level 2 compliance by 2016, only 18 months away by the time you read this. The UK is recognised as a world leader in best practice in this field and there are some great examples of UK companies exporting innovation and skills across the globe, Australia, Hong Kong, Eastern Europe.

Is it any surprise that clients are often prone to misconception or driven to inertia as they encounter software vendors with an agenda to shift licenses, unfamiliar acronyms and well structured but sometimes arcane guidance documents?

Most end-user clients have an interest in the benefits of BIM during the design and construction stages but see these as a side show, a useful byproduct along the journey to the ultimate prize of effective asset management. They are attracted by the promise of a wealth of structured data but are confused how this will be practically incorporated into their everyday systems. They need proof and the UK industry has been slow to respond to this particular challenge.

Clients will drive BIM. At the moment only a few are in the driving seat, the rest are hailing a cab. A few are staying home until after rush hour… or have slept through the alarm.

Peter Barker is managing director of BIM Academy