Are we missing something? The case for collaborative BIM measurement

Jason Ruddle, managing director of Elecosoft, says only through collaboration can gaps in our BIM understanding be addressed.

The NBS National BIM report is an invaluable publication which has been monitoring the adoption and awareness of BIM for seven years now.

Just as valuable are other BIM adoption studies and analyses, created variously by associations and interest groups such as BIFM and the CIOB, via the BIM+ survey.

But we still don’t fully understand how BIM is really penetrating the construction industry as a whole. Because of that, we don’t fully understand how the construction industry is transforming for the future, the need for which has become both apparent and urgent.

None of these approaches have a truly industry-wide perspective. In fact, they all disproportionately (though understandably) focus in on a particular set of interested stakeholders. That leaves many, many players in the construction value chain unsurveyed, with their needs poorly identified – or feeling that BIM simply does not apply to them.

Coming from different organisations that are seeking to understand different things about BIM adoption and its perceived challenges, you cannot create any kind of aggregate or comparative view either.

We’re missing real depth of information on what is arguably a most critical phase within every project: the build. Yet if we don’t get this part right, and make BIM work for it, the whole promise of BIM may fail to materialise for the owner, operator and end user – calling the whole transformation into question.

Lastly, we are isolating BIM when BIM itself is only part of the common digital change which is starting to permeate the sector. It is intrinsically linked, for example, to the business process changes around project management, in a sector which is project-centric. Collaboration is central to BIM, yet enabling collaboration in construction businesses is more than BIM and includes how information is shared, and social media deployed, to boost efficiency and working practices.

The most recently published, the RICS study on BIM and project manager, we found hugely valuable because it speaks in part to the state of our core constituent group of planners and project managers – yet it is, again, just one part of the jigsaw.

If BIM is to truly help us transform the construction industry, as it is intended to do, as part of a wider digital transformation that makes both our businesses, and our practices, fit for the smart, sustainable future, we need to embrace its spirit much more.

It’s time we filled in the gaps of our understanding about how BIM and digital change is impacting the whole industry, and every player within it. And the way we can do that is through collaboration.

We call on the industry organisations, associations and specialist groups in construction and engineering to help that collaboration come about.

Incorporate three common questions into every recurring and future BIM survey – enabling comparison between findings for different groups.

Articulate the full list of key stakeholder groups that form part of the construction BIM delivery chain, in a logical structure mapped to the RIBA work stages since this has become an accepted standard. Work to encourage the groups that support them to undertake at least basic BIM surveys that include the core questions.

Encourage the owners of existing recurring studies to broaden questioning to BIM as part of wider digital change, so that we can all learn about and proliferate best practices between and across different professional groups.

As we start to deliver benefits from BIM Level 2, and look towards BIM Level 3, now is the time to become more collegiate. There is a raft of practical and economic drivers for ensuring that BIM delivers, in reality, the benefits that it offers to construction, in theory.

We believe that the insight and value that could be learned through collaborative monitoring of the BIM transformation could itself be transformative.

We recognise that software solution providers like ourselves are not, per se, construction players. Yet, in the world of digital transformation, we play a vital enabling role providing tools to meet emerging and changing needs.

We engage in a constant process of communication with our customers, to drive continuous development, and this is highly effective in meeting the needs of specific users.

However, our ability to support the sector might be significantly enhanced if more complete, cohesive and comparative insight into the needs of different stakeholders were available – and we would not be alone.

We urge industry bodies and interest groups, which have done such sterling work individually, to come together and explore ways that they can work together to try to create this new, more unified perspective which would deliver exponential additional value across the board.  

The most recently published, the RICS study on BIM and project manager, we found hugely valuable because it speaks in part to the state of our core constituent group of planners and project managers – yet it is, again, just one part of the jigsaw.– Jason Ruddle

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  1. Jason,
    I read this with interest because of my particular views. I find the Design/Build process is full of niggles, understanding and clear definition of what is being delivered contributes considerably. General acceptance of BIM process is typically words and not deeds because of the impact of additional work/effort in the initial steps even in practices with a long history. I’m always available to have a detailed chat if youre available.

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