Unlocking Goals When You’re Considering and Starting BIM

By Stefan Mordue, Paul Swaddle, David Philp

Part of Building Information Modeling For Dummies Cheat Sheet

At the beginning of your BIM journey, you should set a number of goals. These goals give you a clear sense of direction and indicate key milestones to achieve and that you can use to demonstrate your progress. Here’s a list of things you should know about BIM:

  • What it is: Be clear on what BIM is and what it isn’t. BIM stands for Building Information Modeling and is a process for embedding digital representations of buildings and other built assets with lots of data and useful content for the whole lifecycle of a project’s use. It’s not just about software, hardware, or project management; it’s a combination of all these things and requires a behavioral change above all else.

  • What it can do: Consider what BIM can do for the construction industry, but more importantly, for you and your company. BIM is many things to different people. It can provide savings, certainties, and new efficiencies so various sectors have a lot to gain. From safer construction to better understanding of the built asset and what’s required to run it during its life, you can use BIM to develop clearer insight about the built environment.

  • What the potential return on investment is: BIM doesn’t need to be expensive. Although you’ll have some initial costs, think of BIM as a long-term resource for improving the work you do and the products you deliver. It’s not just about one project either; BIM will continue to deliver cost savings and competitive advantage as you become more skilled in applying the processes involved. You can get started now and develop longer-term strategies for when you need big-ticket items like additional resource, training, or technology infrastructure.

  • What requirements clients and companies have for BIM: The following can help:

    • Key outputs/formats: BIM is about collaboration and cooperating with other users of building information. It relies on you using open standards and formats that everyone can access and read, which may require you to change your processes. BIM is also about regular exchange of data at strategic points along the project timeline so that you can make informed decisions with your team and improve performance.

    • Key documents: BIM can seem quite complicated, but getting your head around the process mainly relies on some key standards and documents that the industry has produced to help you, many of which are free. Sometimes referring to these documents is a requirement for project delivery.

  • How to gear up to deliver BIM: Consider the following:

    • Influencing decision makers: You need to adopt a top-down approach to achieve buy-in from key individuals in your company with the ability to implement the change you want to see.

    • Implementing processes: You need to ensure that office protocols and management structures are in place to implement ideal BIM procedures.

    • Providing hardware: You need to have the technology and data infrastructure to support the BIM workflow and exchange information with clients and project teams.

    • Supplying software: You need appropriate tools and platforms to design, analyze, construct, and operate the built asset, including for the end users to understand the information within BIM.

    • Training people: You need to find out exactly what training requirements each person has for BIM. Some need to learn a new piece of software for modeling work, others may need to improve their strategic project management skills, or you may need training to keep your systems up-to-date. Supporting BIM users day to day can be the difference between BIM success and failure.

  • Where to gain insight from others: Staying in touch with what’s happening in the world of BIM is easy, because it’s a digital community with connections on social media and web forums all over the world. Also, you can attend face-to-face conferences to see demonstrations, case studies, and hands-on applications of BIM, and build your own knowledge. Find out about the future of the construction industry too, because when you can link BIM with sustainable, off-site manufacture and Internet-connected sensors you’ll be creating truly smart cities.