Starting off the BIM process by establishing the client’s requirements - and thinking about the final outcome - is key

Adrian Malone

‘Begin at the very beginning’ so says the famous song … ‘its a very good place to start’. In BIM terms, under Level 2 as set out by the core guide to BIM PAS1192-2 this means establishing the Employers Information Requirements (EIR). 

The EIR is an important stage in the BIM process because it sets out the client’s strategic purpose, and the high level requirements for co-ordinated and collaborative working right from the very start. This matters. BIM is not just about new technology, it is also (as the RICS has recognised in its definition) a new way of thinking. I would argue that in the traditional construction process information has typically been more of an output than an input. What this means in practice is that design and other information is subject to repeated cycles of re-working as it is passed through the supply chain team. This is inefficient and prone to introducing error.

With BIM we must ensure that beginning with the end in mind is the norm

Thinking differently requires members of the project supply chain team to work out (together) how to minimise re-work through ensuring outputs from one part of the process can efficiently be used as inputs to the next. Under the process set out by PAS1192 this is the development of the BIM Execution Plan (BEP). This is not a trivial challenge, particularly as some of our current procurement routes and forms of contract (designed pre-BIM) can lead to challenges for project team collaboration. Clarity resulting from a well designed EIR can assist the project team enormously in defining this co-ordination of the information processes which underpin the delivery of the project.

Just as we should begin at the very beginning, we should also begin with the end in mind. This is part of the shift in thinking which is linked to BIM adoption. With BIM we must ensure that beginning with the end in mind is the norm. In the public sector, government Soft Landings will require it for all centrally procured UK government projects by 2016.

Clarity about who the end users and stakeholders are, and their views and needs can help to ensure that the approach adopted for the project as a whole is taken into account as each key decision is made throughout the project. Thinking through the way in which an asset will be operated and maintained from the start should ensure that the right data is built into the model during design and construction to enable the preferred strategy to be effectively implemented post handover. In turn this clarity helps to minimise waste, through avoiding ‘nice to have’ or ‘vanity’ BIM processes being added to the scope. BIM should always be applied where doing so adds value to the process or the outcome, not simply because it is possible to do so. 

None of this is new, for the best projects these principles have been recognised for decades. BIM is an opportunity to embed these principles for all projects.

Adrian Malone is a director at Faithful+Gould with responsibility for BIM, knowledge management and commercial research