Why are the majority of QSs reluctant to use BIM? It’s time to get on board before early adopters in the contracting market get too far ahead
The recent RICS survey into the engagement of quantity surveyors and building surveyors with BIM revealed that a vast majority - nine out of 10 - are either not using or are infrequently connected to BIM. David Bucknall, chair of the RICS QS and construction professional group, believes this is a “wake-up call” to its members. The question becomes are the respondents just inherently scared of change or are there more deep-rooted concerns around the impact that BIM will have on this profession?
Through his position as chief construction adviser and chair of the government construction board, Paul Morrell OBE, a proud chartered QS and respected leader across the industry, is mandating the use of BIM on all public sector projects by 2016. So with Egan, Latham and now Morrell driving culture change through the industry, why are QSs the last to come to the collaboration party?
Perhaps it’s the perception that BIM is based around design and design software? This argument misses the point of BIM, which seeks to build virtual models and resolve the majority of issues prior to construction and operation of that asset. Cost and programme are key performance indicators, in addition to quality. With the advent of parametric modelling (which forms a model from a set of bases or parameters that are related, such as area efficiency ratios and cost parameters), the QS can contribute these two fundamental parameters to the modelling process from the outset and add the most value from the earliest stage.
For QSs to be wholly reliant on ‘process’ to demonstrate professional value is a weak and flawed position
The QS can design and set the standards - they just need to think in a different way and work with the other actors in the process. The public sector requires robust and coherent benchmarking and who better to provide this than the QS. Furthermore, the private sector will also demand this commercially advantageous knowledge. The QS will be able to define what “good” is, echoing Morrell’s mantra of “good, is good enough”.
Maybe it’s the threat of Quantity Take-off (QTO) within the model? This means that quantities can be extracted automatically based on the attributes of objects within the model. For QSs to be wholly reliant on “process” to demonstrate professional value is a weak and flawed position. QTO will provide a new and efficient process which will release the true professional QS expertise of determining holistic value and context to design intent and client requirements. Paraphrasing Henry Ford, we will be introducing a whole new method of professional service delivery not just breeding faster ways of measuring.
If the profession does not change and adapt, the early adopters in the contracting market will continue to realise the market opportunity and squeeze out the consultant QS
Finally, the current economic climate is being cited as a good reason not to embrace change, innovation and investment in BIM. I disagree and suspect that this is more symptomatic of the inherent personality of QS professionals. In reality, there is no better time to engage and realise the productivity gains that BIM provides - for consultants, clients and end-users. In a market where “more for less” is the norm and competitive advantage is hard to come by, BIM, and the whole ethos wrapped around it, presents that opportunity for sustainable business growth.
If the profession does not change and adapt, the early adopters in the contracting market will continue to realise the market opportunity and squeeze out the consultant QS. Where is the pride in the training and education that QSs have undertaken, the two to three years of post-graduation experience to then become professionally qualified? QSs have had an identity crisis for the last few decades, ever since the notion of pre-contract cost modelling and estimating entered their skillset. Now is the time to be confident in our ability to inform both the client brief and design concept with the data, information and knowledge that we hold. We can be transparent and share in real-time while leading in an environment where “absolute value” is the highest and most appreciated commodity within the market.
Erland Rendall is head of thought leadership at Davis Langdon, an AECOM Company Twitter: @erlandr