A Comprehensive BIM Strategy Document. The Problems with BIM Requirements.

GlossaryMarch 22, 2021

Overview

The increase in BIM popularity has led to many building owners setting BIM requirements in their construction projects. Due to BIM being such a complex process, some parts of BIM are required by a lot of companies and other ones that are barely ever mentioned.

The main purpose of BIM is to present a new level of collaboration that has massive potential for construction projects in all of their different iterations and stages. Understandably so, it’s more common for owners to require only a few parts of BIM and not the entire process to be realistic with the demands and the costs for the job.

However, not all of the owners have in-depth expertise about all of the nuances and pitfalls of BIM. In those cases, it’s recommended to delegate setting up the correct BIM requirements to either an architect, BIM coordinator or main contractor.

To help with the understanding of the possible BIM requirements, we have to go over the basics of BIM as a whole.

BIM requirements

While the correct definition of BIM is Building Information Modelling, however, Building Information Model is also commonly used. BIM is the process and the model that different parties interact with. That way, it’s possible to discern specific BIM requirements for both of these definitions.

Modelling requirements are primarily about the effectiveness of the collaboration process between different parties. This part might include data formats, data exchange processes, levels of detail, topics of clash detection, visualization, design review meetings, issue trackers, and so on. Some additional processes might be included in these requirements, such as the way that specific parties are supposed to communicate with others, and more.

Model requirements, on the other hand, are aimed towards the BIM model itself and making sure that every phase of the project ends with a comprehensive BIM model that is suitable for everyone to work with.

Both of these requirement groups are directly dependent on one other to simplify the implementation and overall BIM process. That being said, developing all of the requirements from the ground-up is a monumental task that few companies can take on.

At the same time, there’s only so far, the requirements from other owners could take you since the range of projects that BIM can work with is incredibly broad. Standardization is needed in this process, in the form of basic templates, best practices, and so on – essentially everything that is applicable to most cases should be standardized in the industry.

Customizing those basic templates or recommendations is the most effective way of forming your own BIM requirements. You’ll have a basis for the list, but the owner would still have to consider a lot of different questions to make the correct requirement list for themselves.

BIM requirements: problems and recommendations

Since the nature of the project in question is capable of heavily influencing a lot of the recommendations, it’s only possible to give the basic advice about defining your own BIM requirements:

  • Incentives and profit-sharing are generally recommended unless both parties completely understand the amount of effort needed to perform the project in question.
  • Both parties should understand the requirements completely; this implies that the owner is honest with the requirements and not trying to fool the contractor with some hidden complicated requirement that would be missed. Collaboration heavily depends on the honesty and transparency of all of the participants.
  • Generating a decent Asset Information Model beforehand is bound to prove itself beneficial in the long run, and it might also be funded thanks to all of the savings that come from rationalizing your BIM process.
  • Keep in mind that the changes are inevitable, and that includes your requirements. The industry is quickly developing, and better solutions are being presented. Both parties should agree to the changes in requirements before including them in the list.

That being said, all of the recommendations are representing a perfect scenario when nothing goes wrong. Unfortunately, the reality is that everyone makes mistakes, and the field of BIM requirements is not an exception. Here are some of the challenges that could be noticed in the modern market in relation to BIM requirements:

  • BIM execution plans are transferred from project to project with no changes whatsoever.
  • Owner push for the project to begin without having a concrete plan for the said project.
  • Owners do not have the correct information about the data that they need, and their solution for that is to ask for everything at once.
  • Project templates are used with little to no adjustments and without adding more project-specific information to them.
  • Owners rarely trust newer processes, asking for more information without adjusting the original requirements and having to do double work due to that.

Speaking of BIM execution plans, they can also be called BIM strategies, and those are essential for any project’s success. This leads us to the topic of building a successful BIM strategy.

BIM strategy steps

BIM strategy is the organized blueprint for everything that concerns BIM in your organization. As with BIM requirements, the nature of BIM strategy might vary heavily depending on the project’s goal, among other things. That being said, it is possible to discern three main steps that should be included in any BIM strategy document:

  1. Assessment: This includes the organization’s evaluation, both internal and external. Internal evaluation determines the status of the company, and external evaluation is looking at the company’s performance on the market. The goal of the evaluation process is to determine which areas can be improved by using new technologies or processes such as BIM. Additionally, individual facilities within the organization can have their own missions to do their job while aiming to enhance their performance through those new technologies or processes.
  2. Goals and planning: This step begins right after the assessment and is supposed to determine various BIM-related objectives and goals within the organization, as well as the desired level of maturity for each of the planning elements. Establishing goals is important from the organizational standpoint since that way; it’s easier to specify the fields that need to be improved using BIM as the means of improvement. While goals are created for the purpose of completing the mission of the organization, objectives are needed to achieve each one of the goals. Basically, each goal can be split into several different steps that lead to its achievement, and each of these steps is an objective.
  3. Advancement and implementation: The implementation process is the final part of forming a proper BIM strategy, and it may differ greatly depending on a number of parameters, from the organization’s size to their expertise with BIM. Advancement strategy is also a part of this process, helping the company determine the correct approach to implementing the plan in question without cost escalations, broken deadlines, and such. Additionally, it’s also possible for an organization to benefit from forming a roadmap of the process to be able to visualize the key components of the plan and the order of their integration.

Following a comprehensive planning procedure that includes the steps discussed above, a project manager can create a BIM strategy document that details the organization’s BIM integration process.

Conclusion

Both BIM requirements and BIM strategy are incredibly important for any organization that works with projects in the construction field. The understanding of BIM requirements is necessary for both parties to understand all of the nuances of the project, and a BIM strategy is important for the proper integration of various BIM processes into the regular life of an organization in question.

About the author

James Ocean

BIM/VDC Specialist. James Ocean is Head of BIMspiration at Revizto and keeps everything moving onwards and upwards. From supporting and teaching our internal team as well as our clients, James shows us the ins-and-outs and how to best leverage Revizto to maximize workflows, cut costs, and get all types of projects through the finish line.

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