BIM Doesn’t Come in a Box

by Holly Allison

We need to dispel the myth that by buying a couple of software licenses your firm can do BIM.

It takes guts to change the status quo. Buying some modeling software, some clash detection software, and hiring a recent CM graduate simply isn’t a viable BIM strategy. The true adoption of BIM takes guts because it won’t happen overnight; people will feel threatened, departments won’t want to share data, and the firm will need to map out process change. Is that what you’re ready to sign up for?

The good news is that GCs are stepping up to the plate. According to the recent McGraw-Hill SmartMarket Report, 49% of GCs report doing some sort of BIM in their projects. And we see it with our customers, too. Firms who had gotten their feet wet with modeling and coordination are deciding to “go 5D” and push BIM processes through to their scheduling and estimating departments…even out to the field with production control.

Why would CEO’s want to knowingly inflict process change onto their firm? The answer is simple: BIM wins business. “98% of BIM users say that having BIM capability is having an impact on their companies winning new work.” (page 18, BIM SmartMarket Report: The Business Value of BIM)

We’ve seen it time and time again: all the GCs today can show models in the Owner Presentation, but only a couple dozen can take it to the next level and show the Owner several scenarios and see the impact on schedule and budget. And only a handful can manage the entire project with BIM-based deliverables: a cost-loaded schedule; project risk analysis; resource forecasts for major subcontractors; and updated cash flow forecasts.

We spend a fair amount of time with CEOs and their executive teams once they’ve made that decision to “go 5D” and here is what we’ve found:

  1. It does take executive sponsorship, complete with incentives. The best leaders also provide a way to recover after a major mistake. Without this safety net, the team might not stick their necks out or take a chance. Yes, good people and teams will face challenges with BIM, but recovering will make the team stronger. We can help you establish ground rules and workflow, but you have to provide the leadership.
  2. You’ve got to “talk the talk and walk the walk.” More often than we’d care to admit, the deal is won with BIM gobbledygook, the celebratory toasts are made, and the very next day the paper and Excel creep back into the process and it’s business as usual. Any other software company might not care how you run your business, but we would like to think that you’re not just Hollywood BIM, you’re the real deal. This software company wants you to dig your heels in.
  3. Your team is tired of “winning the game in overtime.” How many times has your operations team performed heroically in order to save a project? And how are you going to keep these key players on your team? We’ve found that BIM can be a rallying point for these key employees and help them dig into project details to make them run as smooth as possible from preconstruction out to the jobsite to turning over keys. Again, it isn’t a magic bullet, but it affords a different way to manage a project for success and your talented players will stick with it.

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