Attitude and Perception: Key Factors in Successful BIM Transitioning

by Sherry Whetten

As Director of Technology at an Architecture and Planning firm, I was responsible for developing and maintaining office processes. Initially I was hired as a contractor to help complete one specific project in ArchiCAD. The firm deserves recognition for jumping in feet first! They did what most firms do… buy and go through the 3-day basic training package. They then considered themselves ready to tackle a billable project on their own; quite impressive.

I have seen several firms take the transition as far as training and then ultimately decide that they are not ready to do a project in BIM and so it collects dust in their programs folder. The purpose of this post is to call attention to the response that I noticed from the employees and how their attitudes affected the transition. As a result of walking into a transition mid-way through, losing the majority of the staff associated with the initial transition and then having to start all over with new staff, I have noticed a couple things that might help the next firm transition.

1) Create office standards and processes for BIM and then test them for efficiency BEFORE they are implemented into the general project processes. A majority of these standards should be identified prior to starting the first project. When people are learning something new, frustration comes easy and to give them a broken process only elevates the frustration.

2) Document the processes and create a way for everyone to have access to it. Encouraging staff to use these tutorials is as simple as responding to their ‘how do I…?’ question with ‘What does the office manual say to do?’ This document is a dynamic book and the correct expectation needs to be set in order to limit negativity in the form of comments such as ‘everything is always changing, how do you expect us to accomplish anything?’.

3) Set up a way to have weekly training sessions. Sometimes it is appropriate to have a general Q&A session. This training time CANNOT be sacrificed. Not just because your staff is learning but because this creates the perception on behalf of the staff that senior staff supports them in this effort and wants to help them succeed. No meetings, no clients, not anything should conflict with this reoccurring session.

4) Establish bench marks for your staff to meet and reward them when set benchmarks are met. The most crucial part of a learning process is the student recognizing they are learning or have learned something new. Rewarding them accomplishes this. This eliminates the feeling of ‘spinning your wheels and not getting anywhere’ because the employee has been recognized and awarded for getting somewhere.

5) Finally, seamless communication is necessary from the top down. Create a unified front and a go-to person for this process so that employees aren’t finding themselves getting different direction from different people and becoming frustrated by the question ‘whose advice do we follow?’

The key to a successful transition lies in the attitudes of the staff that are making the transition. It is all about their perception; and if efforts are taken prior to the start of the transition to ensure that their perception is positive then the office will transition quicker and more effectively.

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