Explainers

BIM bytes: A premature end for the BIM Task Group?

7 July 2014 | By Assad Maqbool, partner, Trowers & Hamlins

The success of the BIM initiative has, to a large extent, relied on the government’s backing. The facilitation provided by the BIM Task Group has been invaluable in the implementation of that initiative and so now does not appear to be the right time to disband the organisation.

The government’s stated intention that all centrally-funded projects should be required to use collaborative 3D BIM by 2016 is still in place, and has been the driver for private sector investment in the training and technology to support that ambition. Without that guaranteed pipeline of work, there is not the same business case for private sector organisations to invest, no matter that the efficiency and cost-saving case for BIM is compelling in the long run.

The evidence of benefits is such that it is logical that the private sector (both in terms of employers and providers) will take on the mantle of BIM without the need for governmental backing. However, we are not there yet.– Assad Maqbool

The evidence of benefits is such that it is logical that the private sector (both in terms of employers and providers) will take on the mantle of BIM without the need for governmental backing. However, we are not there yet.

It remains as difficult as ever for public sector construction clients to use dwindling budgets to train and upskill to implement BIM. Equally, it is hard in the context of annualised capital budgets (distinct from revenue and maintenance budgets) to justify the upfront investment in BIM-related activities on projects when overall cost-savings might be gained during the maintenance and use period.

The BIM Task Group, through a small number of dedicated individuals, has been vital in not only supporting public sector organisations in the practical implementation of BIM, but also in providing those justifications. As well as itself creating centralised resources that ensure consistency of implementation, the Task Group has steered the production of technical information and resources by a growing proliferation of focus-specific partner organisations, and has recognised that a key for public sector organisations is a collation of the empirical evidence of the benefits of implementation.

The announcement of a “winding-down” of the BIM Task Group is therefore concerning. What is needed now is confidence in the stability of the programme’s trajectory and that the government’s 2016 ambition will be fulfilled. It is too early to rely on the private sector to take up the mantle in a reliably consistent way and it seems premature to talk of legacy and Level 3, when widespread use of BIM Level 2 remains in its infancy.