BDP extends its BIM certification to Scotland and Ireland

International architecture and engineering practice BDP has achieved Level 2 BIM certification for both its Glasgow and Dublin offices under the BRE’s BIM Level 2 Business Systems Certification scheme.

The Scottish and Irish offices follow the London, Manchester and Sheffield offices in becoming certified.

The Bristol and Birmingham offices are due to follow in October, when all of the architect’s UK offices will be certified as BIM Level 2 capable.

Alistair Kell, director of information and technology at BDP, told BIM+ that it was important to offer clients consistency across its regional offices: “We are being engaged in Scotland and Ireland to deliver projects to a Level 2 standard, so it makes sense to be certified. Initially this is being driven by major UK contractors, however, increasingly this is extending to local authorities.

“We also want to ensure that there is a standard level of understanding across the business. The offices in Dublin and Glasgow are working and collaborating with BDP’s other offices in the UK, so it made sense to ensure we are all at the same place,” he continued.

Although there has been some controversy surrounding BIM certification, with some in the industry questioning the merits of the certification schemes being offered by BRE, the Lloyd’s Register and Ocean, Kell believes that the process has been hugely beneficial to the practice – both externally and internally. 

He explains: “In reality the internal reasons are as important, if not more important, than the external ones. We’ve spent the last four years realigning the business to address Level 2 BIM requirements. There’s been a huge amount of investment by the firm and we believe that we are doing well and understanding what is necessary. To have someone external come and say ‘yes you’ve got it – you are really grasping this’, or ‘no, you are misunderstanding elements’ is both an important check and also a considerable risk.

“Certification has validated the progress we have made with BIM. The process has allowed us to understand where we are strong and where we are weaker. This has enabled us to plan and decide on strategy for the next two years. We effectively consider this as [a form of] consultancy – certification says that we are on the right track and what we are doing is fit for purpose.”

However, BDP is surprised not to have seen more companies follow its lead and become certified over the past year, and Kell believes this may be due to a misunderstanding over what certification offers.

He says: “It’s disappointing. I would have expected greater numbers to have progressed to certification by now. I understand people’s concerns, but I think there is a degree of misunderstanding over what the certification offers. The way that the BRE certification was carried out, by an industry expert, meant it went into a lot more detail than I would expect would be available through an ISO 9001 assessment.

“Importantly, our ISO 9001 certification audits how projects are applying our processes, whereas the BRE BIM certification has checked and validated the processes themselves before they reach project teams.

“The certification isn’t at a project level, it’s about having business processes that are fit for purpose and are addressing Level 2 BIM.”

He also suggests that companies may not be applying for certification as the process could pose a risk of revealing where companies are currently going wrong, says Kell.

“Given the effort and investment BDP has made in BIM I was personally nervous that we may have found out our strategy was wrong, that we’d not understood the necessary standards or that we were simply ‘missing the point’. I can completely understand other businesses having this view.

“The other factor may be the cost, given the effort in planning and the overall cost of certification everyone is still cautious about investment and may simply need to prioritise spending in other areas.”

I would have expected greater numbers to have progressed to certification by now. I understand people’s concerns, but I think there is a degree of misunderstanding over what the certification offers– Alistair Kell, director of information and technology at BDP

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  1. It would seem to me that in the current reality BIM is insufficiently evolved for there to be genuine industry wide parameters that could be applied to determine best practice and against which compliance can be effectively measured. Many of the constituent processes which fit together to form a BIM solution however are subject to measurable standards and perhaps it would be best to ensure these are all fit for purpose to that end. The one single accreditation I perceive that providers of BIM solutions should seek to attain in the interim is BS 1100 because collaboration is absolutely central to success for all concerned.

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