BIM bytes: Do clients need their own BIM advisers?

As the BIM mandate’s 4 April deadline passed, the industry could look back with some satisfaction at what had been achieved and be heartened by the renewed commitment in the budget statement to the further progression to BIM Level 3. But does the Level 2 structure really give clients all the guidance they need?

For clients that are central government departments, the BIM Task Group suggested the use of BIM champions who would spread the word among their organisation and be able to explain the benefits of BIM and the steps to procure it. These departments also have staff and resources dedicated to asset management, who are keen to see the benefits of better information about the assets they manage.

But outside central government departments, this process of change is not being managed. Clients and the industry have to find their own way to resources and information. Clients who do not have an in-house resource dealing with procurement and asset management will need to rely on external providers. But there is a limit to what external resources can do.

Given the important link between asset management and the benefits derived from BIM, the client must engage with the process and find the necessary internal information to determine whether BIM will be relevant and, if so, to define its requirements. Many will look to a trusted source of advice.

The RIBA Plan of Work 2013 deals with the inception stage and suggests one of the tasks an architect should consider is whether a project is delivered in BIM. The CIC BIM Protocol assumes that the client will appoint a BIM Manager. There is a draft schedule of services in the form of the “outline scope of services for information management”.

Specifications also assist in providing a basis for defining the information requirements: PAS 1192-3: 2014 and BS 8536-1:2015 provide much of the content for clients to follow who wish to define their information requirements.

But where is the source of the trusted adviser? BIM cuts across disciplines and budgets and asks us to retrieve information and coordinate a broad range of services. Does the industry need a BIM adviser who engages with the client before the traditional construction phase and helps the client decide whether BIM is used and, if so, how?

The existing role of BIM Manager assumes much of this ground has been covered when, in practice, most clients are still unware of BIM and uncertain as to the relevance of BIM to their organisation.

Without providing advice to clients on the relevance and requirements of BIM to their organisation, it is difficult to see how change can be managed and how the benefits of BIM to the client side of the industry will be delivered.

Assad Maqbool is a partner at Trowers & Hamlins specialising in projects and construction.

Does the industry need a BIM adviser who engages with the client before the traditional construction phase and helps the client decide whether BIM is used and, if so, how?– Assad Maqbool, Trowers & Hamlins

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  1. The role of a BIM Manager is not defined within the CIC protocol or the PAS1192-2/3. They refer to other responsibilities such as the Information Manager, Project Delivery Manager, Task Team Manager etc but the omission of a BIM Manager is entirely intentional as it does not form part of a standard methodology for long-term daily working practices.

    Arguably, the role a BIM Manager is exactly that of an advisor or someone who oversees the implementation phases. They should have an understanding of relevant technologies, workflows and standards to assist with structuring a company’s capabilities and demonstrating these benefits to clients. Additionally, it should not be assumed to be a 3D CAD modeller as BIM is so much more than this.

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