Both the project team and management need to be fully sold if the benefits of BIM are to be realised
Realising the many benefits of BIM across a construction organisation needs the support and contribution of many parties. While progress may be accelerated if there is a policy or directive from the very top, success throughout the business depends ultimately on the project delivery team(s) having the understanding of what BIM can contribute to the project benefits, how it can help meet client objectives and how it is best delivered.
Unless it has their buy-in and engagement, becoming an integral part of what they do, with the resources committed, having the skills and competencies to deliver, the benefits will be few and achievements unremarkable.
I have seen and heard of projects where the project team believes BIM is something done “in the corner” by the design manager. Others teams perceive BIM is something the “designers do” and does not impact on business as usual on site. Some believe BIM is all about clash detection. As important as that is, clash detection is only one of 60+ potential uses for BIM on a project.
In my experience the company leadership can set a policy and determine ambition but the bulk of the work and attention needs to be delivered through engaging with a number of levels to a wide spectrum of stakeholders.
Engagement is not an overnight exercise. It requires a plan executed with patience, tenacity and persistency
Operations and project directors may ask “How do I implement it, how much will it cost? Where are my resources and how disruptive will it be for my teams. Has it been budgeted for? Does my team have time for training?” Team members may enquire how their role may differ in a BIM enabled project. “What training and support is available to me? Who do I call for help?”
All are valid questions. All need an answer if traction is to be achieved. Until all have been answered to the satisfaction of the team, progress will be slow and without clarity of purpose or support, scepticism and non commitment will remain in place.
While delivering to PAS1192:2 might not be simple and straightforward, in my experience it is not the lack of protocols, guidelines or data management expertise which is the stumbling block to success. It is the transformational skills needed to be adopted by all in the team to see, understand and do things a little differently which is the hardest part of the journey towards BIM integration and levering the potential benefits for all.
It has been said many times that BIM is more about “integration and collaboration”. That is absolutely true. Without engaging with the right people in the process and helping them with the changes they have to make (some subtle, some more substantial) the benefits and objectives will not be fully realised.
How to affect that engagement process is not an overnight exercise. It requires a plan executed with patience, tenacity and persistency. Case studies, testimonials, statistics showing benefits, cost and time savings, knowing the cost of training and having specialist help available is all a vital part of the engagement strategy. The question, “Why should I do this?” (Including the acceptance of making changes to the way they work) is best answered with a clear demonstration of how the use of the digital toolset can be a benefit to their role; help their project outcomes and ultimate add value to their customers.
Having written all of the above, if you have not got leadership support, management interest and some clear accountability you will not transform your outcomes.
Peter Trebilcock chairs Balfour Beatty’s UK-wide design community of practice and its UK BIM Steering Group