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Working towards BIM success

Part 2: Building on initial projects

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In the second of a series of articles Liam Southwood, director of BIM services at IT consultant and software developer NittyGritty looks at what happens after your first BIM project is complete.

So, you’ve done it! You delivered a project using some software which has BIM potential. But did you deliver BIM?

Take a look in the mirror

In my experience, the first BIM project is always the most difficult. It can also sink or massively damage an individual’s or their company’s appetite to do it again. I recommend that once a workstage is completed, a wholesale review of the project is undertaken at the earliest opportunity.

It is important that this includes the whole team and that it focuses equally on The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Here’s some examples Nittygritty have come across in early adopter Revit projects:

The Good

Self-taught, creative use of comments as instance parameters to differentiate colours on a facade system. This wasn’t what we would call best practice but it enabled the designers to do their job without resorting to CAD methodologies.

Well-structured accommodation and area schedules on residential schemes. A massive time saver.

Full commitment to extracting meta data for specifications and sheet annotations. No more manual labelling and cross checking of sheets, schedules and specs! 

The Bad

Linework and text in the model. This is the worst of all worlds – Revit is a terrible CAD tool.

Overmodelling or placement of downloaded content in the BIM. File size through the roof just when the team needed to issue.

Inconsistent naming of levels, views and content. This led to duplication and confusion causing the “wrong” information to updated/deleted. 

The Ugly 

Working in CAD until it’s “too late to do BIM”. Except there is a “BIM deliverable” which led to the creation of a loss-making, duplicate, inconsistent and half-hearted model.

11th hour delivery of (outsourced) consultant/subcontractor information which bears no relation to the project. It was too late to send it back.

Doing all the work in CAD and linking this into a Revit file to meet the “BIM deliverable”. No comment!

Metrics

Once you’ve identified some of the areas where things have gone right and wrong on the last project you need to decide how you’re going to track and measure these on the next one. My suggested categories for metrics are: Satisfaction, Speed of delivery and Quality.

Satisfaction

How happy were the team with the process? Did they see any benefit in using these new workflows? Do they think BIM is a good thing or does it just get in the way of them doing their job? Ideally, the answers to these questions will morph over time to: how can we improve on that success in the last project to make the next one even better?

Speed of Delivery

Look at how long different packages took to produce. If staff report frustration with the software or process, try to understand why it took so long. However, you should take care to factor in the front-loaded nature of many BIM workflows – time invested at the beginning to understand what you wish to get out and to structure the data accordingly will pay off many times over later.

Quality

How do the sheets look, from GAs to details? Are you proud of your model? Is it good enough to use for client presentations and visualisations? Is there anything really clever you did with it to deliver your professional service?

All these things matter greatly. If there’s deficiencies, how can they be improved?

Top level view

Beyond your project team’s immediate experience, you’ll need to review whether your model met the commitments made in the BIM Execution Plan. You may decide to avoid agreeing to certain deliverables on the next project, based on the last.

Next, if you’re a senior member of staff, did the BIM process work for the business? Was your reputation enhanced? How would you approach it next time?

Lastly, how collaborative was your interaction with other project stakeholders? Did the exchange of models help or hinder? What would you do differently next time?

Harvest and re-use

All the above processes should give you a good insight into where time was invested in the last project and what might be recycled on the next one. Any tweaks to graphic output, lineweights and styles invested already should be worked back into your template.

If you do this before you embark on the next project you will avoid doing the same work all over again.

Central content libraries need to be updated and maintained for the benefit of all. Only this way will the move to BIM work for the business and all its staff.

Skills

Finally, use the knowledge gained on this first project to make the next one even better. By asking the questions outlined above you should have a clear idea where any skills gaps lie. This isn’t a blame game – targeted training will be for the benefit of all.

Read previous article

First steps to BIM success

Next articles

  • Consolidating and expanding your BIM services
  • The future of Digital Design

Image: Martinmark/Dreamstime

Beyond your project team’s immediate experience, you’ll need to review whether your model met the commitments made in the BIM Execution Plan. You may decide to avoid agreeing to certain deliverables on the next project, based on the last.– Liam Southwood, Nittygritty