The Role of a BIM Consultant for the BIM Averse

By now just about every contractor has an appreciation of what Building Information Modeling is.

Many of the larger, tech-savvy contractors have engaged with BIM for some time now and are actively championing the adoption of BIM. However a large, though shrinking, number of contractors still only have a fuzzy understanding of BIM.

This sector of the industry is often BIM averse choosing not to bid on projects that even have mention of the dreaded three letter acronym. You may be one of them and choose not to bid on BIM projects because “the process seems daunting”, or “it would be too much of change”.

How a BIM Consultant Could Help

Projects are increasingly stipulating BIM as a requirement. This presents a number of questions, that can be difficult to answer for those not accustom to BIM. What sort of investment is required to complete the project? What kind of outlay is there going to be in technology, and in training? How will adding BIM affect our existing workflow? What about pushback from employees who have been doing a good job for years -the way they have always done it?

One way to answer these questions is to seek the advice of a BIM consultant. A BIM consult can help those with a fuzzy idea of BIM answer these questions, by taking into account existing operations to create tangible workflows, standards and deliverables -that all can adhere too. They are responsible for helping solve people, process, and technological issues.

You may wish to promote internally or hire a BIM-coordinator or BIM-manager to sit in-house. In many cases, though companies may look to the services of external consultants. An external consultant has the advantage of offering specialised skills that might not exist in-house, and for companies just starting out in BIM can act as the go-to person for advice without the expense of hiring somebody full-time.

You may want to look for a BIM consultant with not only experience in consulting but previous experience of delivering BIM in the specific areas of work you are involved in.

Hiring a BIM Consultant

As with most professionals, not all BIM consultants are created equal. So, it’s important to do your homework before you commit. While hiring from an established firm may give you peace of mind, it’s important to recognise that the BIM consulting sector as with other consultancy industries is highly fragmented.

Some of the industry operators are independent consultants, and there are certain things you should keep in mind to ensure you’re getting your money’s worth regardless of the standing of the company you are hiring from. Here are five of the considerations you may want to make:

1. Experience – When it comes to experience you may want to look for a BIM consultant with not only experience in consulting but previous experience of delivering BIM in the specific areas of work you are involved in. Perhaps they have worked in practice, prior to consulting on BIM. While out out-of-the-box thinking has its place, when it comes to a BIM consultant you need to make sure the lead consultant has the necessary experience to both keep a project on track and understand your company’s specific needs.

2. Understanding of BIM standards – Many consultants have BIM related degrees and/or certifications. While these are not essential and should not be considered in isolation, they can help with understanding the background of the consultant and the areas they specialise in. When hiring a BIM consultant, you want somebody who knows the latest and relevant standards inside out and somebody highly vested in industry best practice.

3. Previous work – While data protection and/or non-disclosure agreements may limit the amount of information a BIM consultant can share with you about previous projects, an experienced BIM consultant should be able to provide you with some type of background information on previous work. As with hiring in general, it’s a good idea to ask for references from those who can vouch for the quality of previous work.

4. Requirements – Before you hire a consultant it’s essential that you understand your own company’s needs. While great savings can be made by hiring an external BIM consultant, it can turn out to be an expensive endeavour if your needs for hiring one in the first place are not clear. You need to have clear expectations of your BIM consultant and communicate your standards and procedures so that the consultant knows how you work.

5. Work style – While all of the above or important, something not to be overlooked when it comes to considering an external BIM consultant is their ability to fit the culture of your company and their general communication skills. A BIM consultant should be flexible in their approach to BIM adoption. While adopting BIM may be something new to your company existing workflows should be supported, not disrupted. A good BIM consultant should be able to see where changes are required and be able to communicate and implement change with minimal disruption.