Many project managers have yet to grasp the implications and opportunities BIM presents - it’s time to get informed
The use of BIM for 4D scheduling of construction programmes is increasingly being adopted on larger and more complex projects.
However, this is still far from common practice. Simulating construction sequences in a virtual model can provide many benefits which include support for risk management, design reviews, and to monitor progress and cost (when coupled with 5D) against the plan.
The use of 4D modelling to visualise the construction sequence is one example of how BIM can provide a powerful tool to support the project manager. But BIM is about much more than software tools. BIM is fundamentally about process - and process is at the heart of the project manager’s role.
A project manager who understands the BIM process can play a key role in creating the project conditions which are a pre-requisite for successful use of BIM
Many project managers have yet to grasp the implications and opportunities BIM presents. Perhaps this is understandable. When BIM first gained common currency in the UK, following the publication of the UK government’s construction strategy in 2011, the focus was almost exclusively on the use of BIM for design. Project managers can be forgiven perhaps for assuming that BIM did little more than replace CAD drawings with 3D models. Times have changed.
Following the publication of PAS1192-2 just less than a year ago there can be no doubt that BIM is about process. Furthermore, the PAS makes clear the importance of defining the client’s project and BIM requirements from the very start by creating the EIR (the Employers Information Requirements document). During procurement, tenderers respond to the EIR with a pre-contract BIM Execution Plan (BEP) through which they demonstrate “the supplier’s proposed approach, capability, capacity and competence to meet the EIR” (BSI: PAS1192-2). This process has little, if anything, to do with 3D models or the use of BIM software, but is fundamental in setting up a BIM project to succeed.
We hear much about the “informed client”, but what is the role of an “informed project manager” in the context of BIM? A project manager, whether directly employed or appointed by client has an important role to play in advising the client organisation about the benefits of BIM. This advice should not be evangelical, rather it is about identifying how and where BIM can help achieve the outcomes in the context of the project’s business case and strategic outcomes. The project manager can then play an important role in ensuring that these requirements are specified and tested through procurement. A project manager who understands the BIM process can play a key role in creating the project conditions which are a pre-requisite for successful use of BIM: clarity about outcomes; alignment of working methods, exchange requirements and standards across the project team; and crucially an environment in which collaborative and co-ordinated working can thrive.
BIM is not just about software, it is also about information and process. Project managers have a place at the heart of BIM, and a key role to play in ensuring the potential of BIM is realised.
Adrian Malone is a director at Faithful+Gould with responsibility for BIM, knowledge management and commercial research