Guide to Introducing BIM in AEC Organisations

Most of the AEC industry is very well informed about BIM and its advantages by now, but, adopting them has not been the same for all.

Although it has been some time since the UK government announced its BIM mandate, a large part of the industry is still only just beginning to understand what this transition means to their business.

Many organisations worry that their ability to compete will suffer if they don’t make the transition soon, while some firms are also concerned that adopting BIM will prove difficult and disruptive. As a result, this type of thinking may not only be holding them back but in some cases also leading them to over plan their moves making the transitions more complicated than required.

To start the process of BIM implementation requires a great deal of planning. The following stages provide a basic outline to help understand, implement and accelerate the process and, hopefully, reduce any potential disruption.

Successful BIM implementation depends on team support and getting senior management on board.

Strategic preparation:

The first step involves working out where exactly you are starting. During this stage, you should aim to get an in ­depth understanding of the organisation’s current workflows. Get to know about BIM and learn how BIM will affect the team and workflow.

Assembling the team:

Successful BIM implementation depends on team support and getting senior management on board. Getting a designated team with appointed BIM champions lead by a senior member of staff offers a way for the firm to get focused on strategic planning. Short term risks and costs involved should be looked at and explained adequately to the stakeholders. This will help give a more realistic long­term implementation plan. It is also essential to communicate the upcoming change to all the staff by management so that everybody is on board with new processes.

Acquiring BIM tools:

BIM is, above all, a collaborative process that relies on 3D models and the information contained within them. BIM tools will help in creating such models. Take time to explore available software and decide on the best tools, which work well together for sharing information in an accurate and timely manner. Get views from the project team to determine if there are any issues for introducing or replacing existing tools. Hardware should be checked for sufficient processing power. For cost saving, less powerful equipment may be passed on to team members outside of the design department.

Training:

A high ­level team leader should be seen to introduce or support a change management plan. This document should include a plan on how project information will be exchanged and created, who needs training, and when training will be provided. BIM implementation involves introducing new processes and new tools. Hence supporting the project team is most important so that they can adapt to new ways of working with adequate training support whenever required.

Pilot project:

Selecting and starting a pilot BIM project with a reasonable timescale or a friendly client who wants to explore BIM makes sense to most firms just starting with BIM. It is essential to choose a pilot project that is representative of the work you do rather than the most straightforward project. Choosing an enthusiastic pilot team who are keen to adopt new technology is a good way to move forward. The team will learn from the pilot project pushing software’s limit and capturing lessons learned before starting further projects. A pilot project will help in deciding on additional training and support that maybe needed, or if altogether different processes or tools are required.

Train and transition:

It is crucial to understand when team members need training. After evaluation of the pilot project, start training other team members on a team-­to-­team basis as new projects become available to the organisation. This makes it possible to be able to apply freshly learned knowledge to practice at an early stage and less chance of forgetting what has been learnt in training.

Marketing:

BIM enables new visualisation, coordination and analysis capabilities which can be used for existing clients or potential clients as a new service offering. “Marketing” theseBIM values to the existing/potential clients and getting them on board with BIM processes may often require careful consideration. Consider using any pilot projects as case study examples, to help win over new or existing clients.

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